Project Management Tools

Delivering a project amidst competing priorities and organizational chaos requires experience, skills, and a sound toolkit.  An effective project manager recognizes when a given tool is needed, and applies the tool effectively for the project’s benefit.  Knowing the tools at your disposal will help you move your project forward and organize the chaos around you.

Very few people are excellent project managers, because project management is an increasingly complex discipline.  For this reason, successful project managers are in high demand globally, and financial rewards and prestige go hand in hand with successful project management.

This site explains the various tools used in project management and provides links to some of the best working documents ( templates, forms, guides, etc.) on the web.

Tools

Charter – The Project Charter is typically a one page document that provides a snapshot of the project, including goals, business benefits, schedule, and required resources.  The Project Charter is commonly used as an approval document, giving a project manager authority to launch the project.  Also see our project charter template page for an Excel® template and instructions.

phases of project management

Critical Path Method -The critical path method organizes project activities and links them together based on their dependencies to one another.  The end result is a complete project timeline and list of the vital few activities that determine that timeline.

Gantt Chart – A Gantt Chart is a visual project scheduling tool that uses a horizontal bar chart to show major project activities, planned vs. actual start and finish dates, and in some cases dependent activities (i.e. one activity cannot start before another is completed).  See the Gantt Chart Excel page for a template and instructions.

Project Closing Report – The project closing report summarizes project results and lessons learned, and can also serve as the formal project close-out when presented in a final meeting with project stakeholders.

Project Milestone Checklist – The milestone checklist shows the major milestones in a project, their priority, and current status.  Other columns can be added as well, such as planned/actual completion dates.

Project Management Plan – A project management plan is a comprehensive document that includes such things as the charter, major deliverables, schedule, project budget, risk assessments, and roles and responsibilities.

Request for Proposal (RFP) – Projects often outsource some or all of the actual work that will deliver the end result.  In these cases, a Request for Proposal will ensure that outside contractors provide a consistent proposal/quotation package.

Responsibility Matrix – A responsibility matrix, also known as a RACI chart (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed), is a great tool for documenting roles and responsibilities for cross-functional teams.

Risk Management Plan – The Risk Management Plan lists project risks, their potential impact, and associated countermeasures.