Project monitoring tools – help me write my thesis

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5 Best Project Management Tools

You have heard it from us countless times: use project management tools! They’ll make your projects more efficient. You’ll increase efficiencies. They’ll automate the busywork and give you time to devote on more important matters. It’s all true.

But there are a lot of project management tools out there. From project tracker software to products that boast that they’re the only online PM software you’ll ever need, it can get a bit confusing.

We feel your pain. Choice is good, but too much choice is worse than no choice at all. It can be paralyzing. Therefore, it’s good to have a roadmap to help you get from wanting project tools to getting the right one for you, your team and the project.

So, what are the best project management tools? That… depends on your particular needs. But for most projects, teams (and really any methodology), these five are going to prove invaluable. Make sure that whatever project management software you’re considering for your team has these core tools.

Dashboards

The dashboard might be the most important tool in your project management toolkit. From this one screen, you have a bird’s eye view of every aspect of the project, rendered in easy-to-read graphs and charts. When this tool is part of an online PM software, then you’re getting that data in real-time, which allows you the time to make the right decisions based on the most accurate information.

ProjectManager.com dashboards are always updating in real-time, making this tool the most essential in your Project toolbag.

Better still, those graphs and charts can be shared with a simple keystroke. When you want to share data with your stakeholders, sponsors or team members, there’s no wasted time creating colorful and clear presentations, the dashboard tool does it for you. But each audience requires a different focus. Stakeholders and sponsors don’t require the depth of detail your team will need, which is why the dashboard allows you to filter your reports to get just the data you want.

Online Gantt Chart

Gantt charts get a bad name. They’re thought to be hard to use and complicated, but that’s only true if you’re still using a static Excel spreadsheet to create them. But using an online Gantt chart streamlines the creation of Gantt charts, and offers you so much more. It’s easy to add tasks and due dates, or upload your spreadsheet with this information, and then the tasks and their durations populate your online Gantt chart instantly, giving you a visual timeline of the project schedule.

Now you can assign tasks to your team and monitor their progress, as their updates are reflected on the chart in real time. This leads to a more collaborative work environment, as well, as team members can dialogue and share files, documents and photos right at the task level. As people add to that discussion, all involved are notified, keeping the conversation moving forward.

Another aspect of the online Gantt chart that lends itself to project scheduling is the way you can just click and create a milestone, which marks a major phase or event of the project. The other unique feature of online Gantt charts vs. Excel timelines are that you can create task dependencies. Tasks are often dependent on other tasks to get completed before you can start them. These task dependencies can be linked on the Gantt chart, which helps to avoid leaving team members blocked or idle. And when you must change a task’s deadline, no problem: just drag-and-drop to schedule the work.

Project Scheduling

There’s more to project scheduling than online Gantt charts, of course, so you want an online PM software that can do things like give you visibility into every part of the project, as well as bringing your team into the process by creating project schedules online.

Project scheduling allows you to create task lists for your team that can be updated anywhere and at any time, because you’re online. These tasks can then be viewed as a personal task list for you or an individual team member, on the dashboard and online Gantt chart, of course, but also on calendars, so there’s no reasons for anyone to be out of the loop.

The calendar is a great tool to manage team schedules, but even better is the ability to manage team workload. With workload or resource management capabilities, you can schedule your team’s working days, see when they’re available, manage their hourly rates and even reallocate work when necessary. The workload calendar is color-coded to make it easier to see who is working, available, on vacation and over- or under-allocated. Also, look for a tool that can integrate your other calendars so they’re all in one place.

Project Reporting

Reporting doesn’t have to be complicated, not when your project reporting can monitor project, task and team status by generating reports with one click. Your online PM software can create a report based on almost any aspect of your project, from tasks and timesheets to workload and expenses. They can be customized to get the data you need by filtering the project and data columns. But you can also drill down into greater detail if required.

Reporting software gives you the ability to calculate your planned versus actual progress, whether that’s overall on a project or portfolio of projects or an individual team member or even task. Then when you want to run a report, you have options: print, export or share online, either as a PDF, Excel or CSV file. Now everyone can stay updated. Plus, sharing reports fosters team collaboration, as they’re notified of a new missive by the system or email. Any comments and emails around that report are saved in the system, so they can be viewed in one place.

Project & Task Tracking

Tracking the tasks in your project will help you manage your project deadlines and monitor your team’s productivity. write your own book With this tool, you’re never caught unaware of when a task is due, either on your personal task list or across every project you’re managing. By filtering the task lists by due date or owner or project or whatever you need, with this project tracking software, you’re able to focus in on what you want to monitor.

By sharing the tasks with your team, you can help cultivate collaboration. Tasks can be shared by URL with anyone. Now your team can see the tasks and update them as they progress through their work. Again, because this is part of an online PM software, they’re notified by emails to make sure no task deadline is overlooked. And, being online, you can manage those tasks anywhere and at any time, whether on your desktop, laptop or mobile device.

Project monitoring tools

Broaden your knowledge of monitoring & evaluations tools for development interventions, international procurement procedures and reporting techniques and content.

Developing and managing monitoring systems in development projects

With the MSM Project Monitoring Tools program you will broaden your knowledge of monitoring & evaluations tools for development interventions, international procurement procedures and reporting techniques and content. You will get access to all the resources necessary to develop and manage monitoring systems and throughout the course you will build a Monitoring & Evaluation system for a real project.

The development industry is becoming more and more demanding. Companies and NGOs are pressured by donor agencies to show evidence of their capacity. Development professionals face increasingly higher barriers to join the industry. Experience is a requirement but can only be gained through the understanding of how the industry works.

The evaluation of development interventions is nowadays a requirement of all donor agencies. In a context of limited resources and with an emerging new paradigm in the development industry it is crucial to master project monitoring tools in all its dimensions: procurement procedures, reporting, monitoring and evaluation tools and techniques. The Project Monitoring Tools course will enable you to acquire the monitoring skills highly demanded in the development industry.

Did you know that you can combine this course with the Project Design Tools course which will run the week before? Combining these two courses will save you up to a maximum of €500,-

Project monitoring tools

There are many methods and tools that can be used for monitoring. In choosing and using these, it is important to ensure the information produced is of good quality, useful for the monitoring purpose and consistent over time. These requirements should govern the way you collect and manage your data.

To access the guidance note scroll down or download the entire guidance note here

Key messages

  • There are many different monitoring methods that can be used.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel, and think about what other people can do for you.
  • Indicator selection should reflect the monitoring purpose and how the information will be used.
  • Don’t get bogged down in detail or feel you need to measure everything.
  • Data management needs to ensure data is consistent, of high quality, easy to collect and record, and suitable for analysis.

The requirement to monitor is prescribed by section 35 RMA. In addition, national regulations may be set under section 360, that specify particular indicators, standards, methods or requirements applying to monitoring, which may differ depending on what is being monitored.

Monitoring tools

  • A wide range of methods and tools can be used for monitoring. Some methods or tools may be prescribed by regulation (s.360). While the focus is often placed on quantitative measurement, there are also other ways to monitor whether you are achieving your resource management objectives. Tools could include:
    • perception or satisfaction surveys
    • sequential visual analysis by comparing photos over time
    • participative monitoring and evaluation
    • model building and scenario testing – monitoring in close situations where the system of environmental actors, causal chains and results may be readily understood (used for forecasting).
  • Start small. Pilot schemes can be a good way to build capacity on a small budget. Try techniques and learn from the results in limited situations. Proving capability in this way may help attract more resources and cooperation. The key is never to do more than what you can learn from, and never to promise more than you can achieve.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel; explore opportunities to use monitoring carried out by other organisations, or to work with other councils to develop methods for monitoring similar issues.
  • Think creatively about getting local experts or community groups involved.
  • In deciding whether a particular method is appropriate, you should consider the following questions:
    • Does it provide a means of measuring what is happening?
    • Is it repeatable (ie, will the results hold across samples)?
    • Will it provide information related to management (ie, will a change in the way the resource is managed have any effect on the results of monitoring?)
    • Will it provide information in the timeframes that you need it?
    • Is it efficient, or will fewer or less complex measures do?
  • Develop an understanding of the systemic context of particular issues and indicators (what are the resources, natural and human induced changes in the environment, role of the indicators in understanding these changes), so that the analysis of monitoring results can be accurately analysed and interpreted.
  • Consider using ‘one-off’ research to supplement ongoing monitoring where you want to fill in specific information gaps or explore an aspect of an issue at a particular time. This can be more cost-effective (and more achievable) than trying to cover everything in your ongoing monitoring programme.
  • Be wary of systems that include collective ranking across various types of impacts, with a cumulative score of significance. These may not be repeatable from one situation to another because the underlying scales of measurement are unique to each type of impact and are not compatible with other scales. Such scores should be acknowledged to be qualitative, and will need to be described so that people other than the person who decided the score can identify assumptions and make their own findings of significance.

Perceptions and making decisions based on uncertainty

  • Councils have to deal with a number of uncertainties and manage issues for which there may be no right or wrong answers – but a number of qualitative or perceptive judgements may exist eg, for water quality, amenity issues, etc.
  • There are times when asking people about their perceptions and views (via qualitative social science research) may assist more quantitative and technical monitoring (eg, is the water perceived to be clean? Or is rural amenity satisfactory?).
  • It is important to have high-quality social science research (including survey design) if this sort of perception research is to be used to substantiate monitoring and reporting.
  • There have been many perception surveys carried out in New Zealand. Most of these are satisfaction surveys carried out at a local scale and assessing localised environmental issues.

Participative monitoring and evaluation

  • Participative monitoring and evaluation recognises that public authorities depend on people in the community to implement their policies and strategies and reproduce it in a myriad of applications. The community is not a passive recipient, but a group of actors.
  • Monitoring indicators and reporting formats tend to be about the officers who design them and what they want to know, and less about people in the community and what they want to learn.
  • Participative monitoring and evaluation is explicit about who the project is targeting so we can distinguish their various experiences and who is producing the outputs so we can assist their different needs.
  • This approach develops indicators and questions that make sense to stakeholders so they can identify significant change in their environment and learn how to improve environmental behaviours or practice. online project planning Facilitated reflection is always an element, to make the most of the chance to learn.

Selecting and using indicators

  • Indicators are an ‘indication’ – they provide a snapshot of meaning that people can easily absorb. The trends revealed by the indicators will need to be explained by further research.

Data, information and indicators figure

  • Before selecting indicators, consider:
    • What is the purpose of your monitoring (eg, to assess the state of the environment, to assess plan effectiveness, to identify compliance issues)?
    • What sort of reporting will you be doing (and who will the audience be)?
    • How will the monitoring feed into review of policy and/or management?

Indicator development should be based on the answers to these questions, rather than on current data collection activity – ie, “why are we doing this?” not “what data do we have?” (Developing a monitoring strategy is a useful way of setting this framework.)

  • Some useful questions to assist in selecting indicators include:
    • What are the systemic features of the issue that you seek to understand?
    • What is the outcome you want to monitor?
    • What are the pressures/causal factors that affect this outcome?
    • What sources of information are available to tell you about these?
    • What information will tell you what effects (if any) your policies and management are having?
  • Be prepared to reassess your data collection activities in light of the results of your indicator selection process. A stocktake of current data collected in your organisation will help you identify what relevant information you already collect and what data collection activities you might need to modify.
  • It is important not to commit yourself to more indicators than you have the resources to collect data for, consistently over time. Instead, identify your key priorities and start with these.
  • Consider the links between the different types of monitoring your organisation undertakes (eg, state of the environment, policy/plan effectiveness, consent/compliance/complaints and community outcomes monitoring). Are there indicators that will be useful for more than one of these purposes?
  • A wide range of environmental indicators have been developed by various organisations – look at the possibility of adopting some of these rather than reinventing the wheel.
  • Review indicators periodically to determine whether they are providing the information you need to understand pressures, states and responses.

Project Management, project planning, templates and advice

Project Management monitoring and control techniques

Monitoring and control techniques can be split in to three areas: project plan monitoring, project budget monitoring, monitoring through regular status and/or stage reporting and monitoring carried at different levels by the project team. This guide gives an overview of each area and describes key project monitoring techniques.

Monitoring and control techniques are defined in the Project Initiation Document (PID). Read an overview of the PID, guidance on completion of the monitoring section of the PID.

Project plan monitoring

Project Milestones

Monitoring the project milestones involves Identifying the Critical Path activities and other major stages or decision points on the project and measuring progress against them. Milestones can be monitored using a table, features on a Gantt chart or by producing a milestone slip chart. Figure 1 is Gantt chart view in MS Project showing the project milestones.

Project Tolerances

Monitoring of the schedule against pre-set limits or tolerances enables the level of corrective action to be appropriate to the extent of the deviation from the plan. It also provides a trigger to escalate slippage to the next level of authority within the project team. Tolerances can also be set for cost, scope and quality.

Pareto Principle

ABC or Pareto analysis is based on the work of a 19th century economist, Vilfredo Pareto. Pareto noticed that in inventory control 20% of stocks were responsible for 80% of total inventory costs.

How does the Pareto Principle apply to Projects?

Project budget monitoring and control

The S curve shows trends in and the difference between the budget, actual and predicted spend. Figure 3 shows an ‘S curve’ graph for a project to film 5 hours of footage with 5 days filming and 1 day for editing.

Figure 3 – S curve graph

The graph shows that on day 3 the actual spend is lower than planned and it looks like the project will come in under budget. However, what the S – curve does not show is the causes of the difference.

Earned Value Analysis (EVA)

Earned Value Analysis attempts to bridge the gap by answering the question ‘looking at the project progress are we getting value for money?’ Earned value uses the following equations:

Planned Value (PV) or Budget Cost of Work Scheduled (BCWS)

Actual Value (AV) or Actual Cost of Work Planned (ACWP)

Value above 1.0 = above par performance

The further away the ratio is from 1.0 the more urgent need to investigate.

6 days needed to film. 1 hour per day plus 1 day editing.

The EVA analysis shows that although actual spend is less than planned the project is behind schedule and likely to cost considerably more than planned. The SPI shows that performance in the last two days seems to have taken a major down turn, which will result in higher costs and the ETC indicates that completion will be delayed by at least one day. The project manager would want to investigate what is happening at the filming locations. Are the film crew getting the footage they need? Has there been enough preparation? How is time being spent?

Project Status and/or stage reporting

Project team reports

Reporting by the project team including the suppliers and the specialist teams will often give a good indication of any problem areas, provided reports give quality data and there is a culture of openness and honesty about project progress. Reports can be formal and informal from phone calls and chats in the office to written reports. The Project Manager should watch for reports that give no measured indication of progress or give favourable impressions without any back up. publishing your own book For example: reports of “we are 80% complete” could indicate that the team has hit a problematic 20% of the project that will take up 80% of the schedule (see Pareto Principle above).

Project Planning and Monitoring Tool

Use this Excel-based tool to monitor your progress and communicate it to the entire project team.

Every project manager understands the importance of organized planning and monitoring for each individual project. Once the project begins, real-time progress needs to be tracked and the project monitored against the set baselines to ensure goals are met on schedule.

This Excel-based tool assists in organizing and monitoring project progress. By using the task-planning section, project milestones and tasks can be planned more accurately. Depending on the security environment in your organization, select the “Macro” version of the tool for enhanced functionality.

Project monitoring tools

MSIS 488: Systems Analysis & Design

Problems arise in every organization. Such problems as what products/systems to develop, should capacity be expanded, or should a computer be purchased are just a few of an endless number of continuing problems about which management must concern itself if the firm is to survive. These problems and their alternative solutions establish some elements of change around which the organization must adapt. Projects are generally established to carry out these changes and someone is always responsible for each project’s successful completion. [ 11 ]

Every project is unique in terms of the problems that arise, the priorities and resources assigned it, the environment in which it operates, and the project manager’s attitude and style used to guide and control project activities. Therefore, the organizational structure for the project must be designed to fit within that project’s operating constraints. The organizational structure implemented may not be the same structure used throughout the life cycle of the project due to changes in priorities, available resource, project personnel, laws, and other contingencies. Regardless of the project management structure chosen, management must realize that a dynamic state of equilibrium between limited personnel and financial resources and the objectives of the project will be necessary if project management is to be successful in their particular organization.[ 11 ] Before touching on the major tools and techniques of project management, let’s get to the bottom of what project management truly is. Later, I will list the benefits that the tools and techniques of project management bring to the systems analysis process.

Nearly every activity within an organization could be labeled as a project possessing unique characteristics and varying levels of importance to the organization. A project is defined as a planned undertaking of related activities to reach an objective that has a beginning and an end.[ 16 ] All projects solve some type of problem, but projects may also be established simply to determine and define feasible alternative solutions to problems. Seven primary characteristics of a project include:[ 11 ]

  1. Objective: Each has a specific goal to reach.
  2. Schedule: Point in time in which they must be accomplished.
  3. Complexity: Does the technology exist to achieve the project objectives?
  4. Size and Nature of Task: Step-by-step plan of action.
  5. Resources: Labor, personnel, equipment, materials, facilities, etc.
  6. Organizational Structure: The ‘meshing’ of project requirements into the existing organization.
  7. Information and Control Systems: These must be structured to handle problems through the typical lines of authority (Prin. of Project Mgmt).

In the past, a company typically decided to undertake a project effort, assigned the project and the “necessary” resources to a carefully selected individual and assumed they were using some form of project management. Organizational implications were of little importance. Although the basic concepts of project management are simple, applying these concepts to an existing organization is not. Richard P. Olsen, in his article “Can Project Management Be Defined?” defined project management as “…the application of a collection of tools and techniques…to direct the use of diverse resources toward the accomplishment of a unique, complex, one-time task within time, cost, and quality constraints. Each task requires a particular mix of these tools and techniques structured to fit the task environment and life cycle (from conception to completion) of the task.” [ 11 ]

Employing project management technologies minimizes the disruption of routine business activities in many cases by placing under a single command all of the skills, technologies, and resources needed to realize the project. The skills required depend on each specific project and the resources available at that time. The greater the amount of adjustments a parent organization must make to fulfill project objectives, the greater chance exists for project failure. The form of project management will be unique for every project endeavor and will change throughout the project.[ 11 ]

The project management process typically includes four key phases: initiating the project, planning the project, executing the project, and closing the project. An outline of each phase is provided below.

Initiating the Project

The project management techniques related to the project initiation phase include: [ 16 ]

  1. Establishing the project initiation team. This involves organizing team members to assist in carrying out the project initiation activities.
  2. Establishing a relationship with the customer. The understanding of your customer’s organization will foster a stronger relationship between the two of you.
  3. Establishing the project initiation plan. Defines the activities required to organize the team while working to define the goals and scope of the project.
  4. Establishing management procedures. Concerned with developing team communication and reporting procedures, job assignments and roles, project change procedure, and how project funding and billing will be handled.
  5. Establishing the project management environment and workbook. Focuses on the collection and organization of the tools that you will use while managing the project.

Planning the Project

The project management techniques related to the project planning phase include:[ 16 ]

  1. Describing project scope, alternatives, and feasibility. The understanding of the content and complexity of the project. Some relevant questions that should be answered include:
    • What problem/opportunity does the project address?
    • What results are to be achieved?
    • What needs to be done?
    • How will success be measured?
    • How will we know when we are finished?
  2. Divide the project into tasks. This technique is also known as the work breakdown structure. This step is done to ensure an easy progression between tasks.
  3. Estimating resources and creating a resource plan. This helps to gather and arrange resources in the most effective manner.
  4. Developing a preliminary schedule. In this step, you are to assign time estimates to each activity in the work breakdown structure. From here, you will be able to create the target start and end dates for the project.
  5. Developing a communication plan. The idea here is to outline the communication procedures between management, team members, and the customer.
  6. Determining project standards and procedures. The specification of how various deliverables are produced and tested by the project team.
  7. Identifying and assessing risk. The goal here is to identify potential sources of risk and the consequences of those risks.
  8. Creating a preliminary budget. The budget should summarize the planned expenses and revenues related to the project.
  9. Developing a statement of work. This document will list the work to be done and the expected outcome of the project.
  10. Setting a baseline project plan. This should provide an estimate of the project’s tasks and resource requirements.

Executing the Project

The project management techniques related to the project execution phase include:[ 16 ]

  1. Executing the baseline project plan. The job of the project manager is to initiate the execution of project activities, acquire and assign resources, orient and train new team members, keep the project on schedule, and assure the quality of project deliverables.
  2. Monitoring project progress against the baseline project plan. Using Gantt and PERT charts, which will be discussed in detail further on in this paper, can assist the project manager in doing this.
  3. Managing changes to the baseline project plan.
  4. Maintaining the project workbook. Maintaining complete records of all project events is necessary. The project workbook is the primary source of information for producing all project reports.
  5. Communicating the project status. This means that the entire project plan should be shard with the entire project team and any revisions to the plan should be communicated to all interested parties so that everyone understands how the plan is evolving.

Closing Down the Project

The project management techniques related to the project closedown phase include:[ 16 ]

  1. Closing down the project. In this stage, it is important to notify all interested parties of the completion of the project. Also, all project documentation and records should be finalized so that the final review of the project can be conducted.
  2. Conducting post project reviews. This is done to determine the strengths and weaknesses of project deliverables, the processes used to create them, and the project management process.
  3. Closing the customer contract. The final activity is to ensure that all contractual terms of the project have been met.

The techniques listed above in the four key phases of project management enable a project team to:[ 3 ]

  • Link project goals and objectives to stakeholder needs.
  • Focus on customer needs.
  • Build high-performance project teams.
  • Work across functional boundaries.
  • Develop work breakdown structures.
  • Estimate project costs and schedules.
  • Meet time constraints.
  • Calculate risks.
  • Establish a dependable project control and monitoring system.

Project management is a challenging task with many complex responsibilities. Fortunately, there are many tools available to assist with accomplishing the tasks and executing the responsibilities. Some require a computer with supporting software, while others can be used manually. Project managers should choose a project management tool that best suits their management style. No one tool addresses all project management needs. Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) and Gantt Charts are two of the most commonly used project management tools and are described below. Both of these project management tools can be produced manually or with commercially available project management software.[ 4 ]

PERT is a planning and control tool used for defining and controlling the tasks necessary to complete a project. PERT charts and Critical Path Method (CPM) charts are often used interchangeably; the only difference is how task times are computed. Both charts display the total project with all scheduled tasks shown in sequence. The displayed tasks show which ones are in parallel, those tasks that can be performed at the same time.[ 3 ] A graphic representation called a “Project Network” or “CPM Diagram” is used to portray graphically the interrelationships of the elements of a project and to show the order in which the activities must be performed.[ 2 ]

PERT planning involves the following steps:[ 7 ]

  1. Identify the specific activities and milestones. The activities are the tasks of the project. The milestones are the events that mark the beginning and the end of one or more activities.
  2. Determine the proper sequence of activities. This step may be combined with #1 above since the activity sequence is evident for some tasks. Other tasks may require some analysis to determine the exact order in which they should be performed.
  3. Construct a network diagram. Using the activity sequence information, a network diagram can be drawn showing the sequence of the successive and parallel activities. Arrowed lines represent the activities and circles or “bubbles” represent milestones.
  4. Estimate the time required for each activity. Weeks are a commonly used unit of time for activity completion, but any consistent unit of time can be used. A distinguishing feature of PERT is it’s ability to deal with uncertainty in activity completion times. For each activity, the model usually includes three time estimates:
    • Optimistic time – the shortest time in which the activity can be completed.
    • Most likely time – the completion time having the highest probability.
    • Pessimistic time – the longest time that an activity may take.

From this, the expected time for each activity can be calculated using the following weighted average:

Expected Time = (Optimistic + 4 x Most Likely + Pessimistic) / 6

This helps to bias time estimates away from the unrealistically short timescales normally assumed.

  • Determine the critical path. The critical path is determined by adding the times for the activities in each sequence and determining the longest path in the project. The critical path determines the total calendar time required for the project. The amount of time that a non-critical path activity can be delayed without delaying the project is referred to as slack time.

    If the critical path is not immediately obvious, it may be helpful to determine the following four times for each activity:

    • ES – Earliest Start time
    • EF – Earliest Finish time
    • LS – Latest Start time
    • LF – Latest Finish time

    These times are calculated using the expected time for the relevant activities. The earliest start and finish times of each activity are determined by working forward through the network and determining the earliest time at which an activity can start and finish considering its predecessor activities. The latest start and finish times are the latest times that an activity can start and finish without delaying the project. LS and LF are found by working backward through the network. The difference in the latest and earliest finish of each activity is that activity’s slack. The critical path then is the path through the network in which none of the activities have slack.

    The variance in the project completion time can be calculated by summing the variances in the completion times of the activities in the critical path. Given this variance, one can calculate the probability that the project will be completed by a certain date assuming a normal probability distribution for the critical path. The normal distribution assumption holds if the number of activities in the path is large enough for the central limit theorem to be applied.

  • Update the PERT chart as the project progresses. As the project unfolds, the estimated times can be replaced with actual times. In cases where there are delays, additional resources may be needed to stay on schedule and the PERT chart may be modified to reflect the new situation. An example of a PERT chart is provided below:
  • Benefits to using a PERT chart or the Critical Path Method include:[ 6 ],[ 7 ]

    • Improved planning and scheduling of activities.
    • Improved forecasting of resource requirements.
    • Identification of repetitive planning patterns which can be followed in other projects, thus simplifying the planning process.
    • Ability to see and thus reschedule activities to reflect interproject dependencies and resource limitations following know priority rules.
    • It also provides the following: expected project completion time, probability of completion before a specified date, the critical path activities that impact completion time, the activities that have slack time and that can lend resources to critical path activities, and activity start and end dates.

    Gantt charts are used to show calendar time task assignments in days, weeks or months. The tool uses graphic representations to show start, elapsed, and completion times of each task within a project. Gantt charts are ideal for tracking progress. The number of days actually required to complete a task that reaches a milestone can be compared with the planned or estimated number. The actual workdays, from actual start to actual finish, are plotted below the scheduled days. This information helps target potential timeline slippage or failure points. These charts serve as a valuable budgeting tool and can show dollars allocated versus dollars spent.[ 4 ]

    To draw up a Gantt chart, follow these steps:[ 1 ]

    1. List all activities in the plan. For each task, show the earliest start date, estimated length of time it will take, and whether it is parallel or sequential. If tasks are sequential, show which stages they depend on.
    2. Head up graph paper with the days or weeks through completion.
    3. Plot tasks onto graph paper. Show each task starting on the earliest possible date. Draw it as a bar, with the length of the bar being the length of the task. Above the task bars, mark the time taken to complete them.
    4. Schedule activities. Schedule them in such a way that sequential actions are carried out in the required sequence. Ensure that dependent activities do not start until the activities they depend on have been completed. Where possible, schedule parallel tasks so that they do not interfere with sequential actions on the critical path. While scheduling, ensure that you make best use of the resources you have available, and do not over-commit resources. Also, allow some slack time in the schedule for holdups, overruns, failures, etc.
    5. Presenting the analysis. In the final version of your Gantt chart, combine your draft analysis (#3 above) with your scheduling and analysis of resources (#4 above). This chart will show when you anticipate that jobs should start and finish. An example of a Gantt chart is provided below:

    Benefits of using a Gantt chart include:[ 8 ]

    • Gives an easy to understand visual display of the scheduled time of a task or activity.
    • Makes it easy to develop “what if” scenarios.
    • Enables better project control by promoting clearer communication.
    • Becomes a tool for negotiations.
    • Shows the actual progress against the planned schedule.
    • Can report results at appropriate levels.
    • Allows comparison of multiple projects to determine risk or resource allocation.
    • Rewards the project manager with more visibility and control over the project.

    Project management tools have evolved from simple spreadsheet products to sophisticated, Web-based project information portals. project management sites The obvious trend in project management software, as with almost everything in information technology, is a move toward Web-based systems. Most project management tools can be accessed via browsers and those that do not currently have this capability are moving in that direction.[ 17 ] One product that allows users to take non-Web-based project management tools and to then bring the data to a Web browser is mesaVista from Mesa Systems Guild, Warwick, R.I. The product acts as a portal development tool that allows firms to view information from products such as Microsoft Project over the Web. These project management portals are becoming more common as the collaboration capabilities of project management tools improve.[ 9 ]

    Another trend is the move toward hosted project management applications. For example, users can outsource project management to product/service offerings such as onProject.com from onProject.com Inc., Morristown, N.J., or WorkLenz from Metier Ltd., Washington D.C. onProject.com is an Internet workspace that allows users to share and mange information associated with projects and their related tasks. WorkLenz is a software application that serves as a virtual project manager with intelligent agent features. Offered via the ASP model, WorkLenz manages a customer’s project and provides real-time alerts of issues, inefficiencies and problems, and even recommends solutions.[ 9 ]

    Project management tools continue to evolve in terms of capabilities and user interface. The general direction is toward more integrated process and knowledge management systems, and user interfaces with a “Web” look.[ 17 ] Project management tools are gradually becoming integrated project information portals with capabilities far beyond simple project tracking and reporting.[ 9 ]

    As the sophistication of these products continues to grow, however, so too does their complexity. print your own book It is important for project management software vendors to keep things simple and easy to use. Project management tools should not become the focus of a project manager’s life or add time to project activities. If a project manager has to spend too much time learning a product’s features, their ability to actively manage the project process diminishes, totally defeating the purpose of the tool.[ 9 ]

    A collection of twenty essential project management skills, methods, tools and competencies needed for success.

    Work Breakdown Structure 101

    The Work Breakdown Structure is a tool project managers use to break projects down into manageable pieces. Here’s why you need one and how to create your own.

    The 8-Step Guide to Creating a Quality Project Schedule

    Successful projects start with a good, quality project schedule. After reading this article, you will have a sound approach to creating schedules.

    BOSCARD (Terms of Reference)

    The BOSCARD is a strategic planning tool used to gain approval for new projects. It is believed to have originated with consulting company Cap Gemini.

    Creating a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

    If the Six Sigma project you are implementing is huge how can you get it done in a reasonable timeframe? A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) can help and here’s how.

    Estimating Project Costs

    Many techniques, books and software packages exist to help with estimating project costs. A few simple rules will also help ensure you create an accurate and realistic estimate.

    Writing a Funding Proposal

    If you are already familiar with the ubiquitous project brief and would like to try something new, here’s an idea. Why not try writing a funding proposal.

    How to Create a Gantt Chart Using Microsoft Excel

    A Gantt chart is a popular project management bar chart. This video presentation is a simple guide to creating a Gantt chart using Microsoft Excel.

    Project Management Tools

    A Gantt chart, Logic Network, PERT chart, Product Breakdown Structure and Work Breakdown Structure are standard tools used in project planning.

    Project Planning a Step by Step Guide

    The key to a successful project is in the planning. This project planning article provides a step-by-step approach to creating a simple project plan at the beginning of a project.

    Progress Reporting

    Progress reporting is an essential activity of project management. The project manager issues regular reports on progress against budget, schedule and scope.

    A RAID log is one of the easiest and most effective tools you can create for your project. RAID stands for risks, assumptions, issues and dependencies.

    Requirements Gathering 101

    Requirements gathering is an essential part of any project and a key project management skill. Read ten rules for successful requirements gathering.

    Delphi Technique a Step-by-Step Guide

    The Delphi Technique is a method used to estimate the likelihood and outcome of future events. For projects, it can predict future risks and opportunities.

    MoSCoW Method

    What is the best method for creating a prioritised list of customer requirements? The MoSCoW method can help. MoSCoW stands for must, should, could and would.

    Pareto Analysis Step by Step

    Pareto Analysis or the 80/20 rule enables you to see what 20 percent of cases are causing 80 percent of the problems on a project.

    PEST Analysis

    PEST is a strategic planning tool used to evaluate the impact political, economic, social, and technological factors might have on a project. It involves an organisation considering the external environment before starting a project.

    RACI Matrix

    Delegation is an essential part of a project manager’s role, so identifying roles and responsibilities is important. Applying the RACI model can help.

    SMART Goals

    When you run a project are your goals SMART goals? The acronym SMART has several slightly different variations, which can be used to provide a more comprehensive definition for goal setting.

    SWOT Analysis

    SWOT is a strategic planning tool that involves specifying the objective of a project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favourable and unfavourable to achieving that objective.

    Using Feedback as a Tool

    Using feedback as a tool can help to motivate people, help with a persons development, uncover risks and issues and solve problems.

    Project Health Check

    Will your project be a success? Find out in five minutes.

    PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

    WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what’s happening in the world of project management.

    Project Monitoring Tools

    About the course

    With the MSM Project Monitoring Tools program you will broaden your knowledge of monitoring & evaluations tools for development interventions, international procurement procedures and reporting techniques and content. You will get access to all the resources necessary to develop and manage monitoring systems and throughout the course you will build a Monitoring & Evaluation system for a real project.

    The development industry is becoming more and more demanding. Companies and NGOs are pressured by donor agencies to show evidence of their capacity. Development professionals face increasingly higher barriers to join the industry. Experience is a requirement but can only be gained through the understanding of how the industry works.

    The evaluation of development interventions is nowadays a requirement of all donor agencies. In a context of limited resources and with an emerging new paradigm in the development industry it is crucial to master project monitoring tools in all its dimensions: procurement procedures, reporting, monitoring and evaluation tools and techniques. The Project Monitoring Tools course will enable you to acquire the monitoring skills highly demanded in the development industry.

    Who should attend

    • Project managers at international and local NGOs
    • Free-lance consultants willing to expand market opportunities
    • Professionals working in donor agencies looking for specialized training in M&E systems
    • Future trainers on development related subjects willing to expand the scope of their training activities
    • Professionals working in consultancy firms operating in the development industry

    Learning outcomes

    After finalizing the course, you will be familiar with international procurement procedures to implement contracts of goods and services. You will have learned the main characteristics of a Monitoring and evaluation system, how to design and manage it by making use of appropriate tools. The course will assist you in the design of an M&E system and will give you insights on data collection methods, data analysis and interpretation, reporting and how to design evaluation questions.

    Please note that instructors are subject to change and not all instructors teach in each session of the program.

    Rui Miguel Santos

    Rui Santos has extensive experience of EC projects in countries around the world (including Estonia, Moldova, China / Macau, Cameroon, Gabon, and Senegal). He is a Portuguese national and lectures at various institutions including:

    – The three most prestigious Portuguese universities (Technical University, New University and Catholic University)

    – The Netherlands (Maastricht School of Management)

    – Angola (Ministry of Planning),

    – Rwanda (Rwanda Institute of Administration and Management)

    – Moldova (Academy of Public Administration).

    Throughout his career, Rui has delivered training courses to students from more than 30 countries and is familiar with diverse, multicultural audiences.

    Mirjana Stanisic

    Mirjana Stanisic has extensive experience in donor-funded projects in emerging and countries in transition (Egypt, Romania, Bangladesh, Serbia and Montenegro). She worked previously as a national expert in Serbia and Montenegro and has several years of experience in international cooperation with relevant international bodies for environment and climate change. Mirjana published more than ten articles in the field of environment and participated in various project and programs funded by UNEP, UNECE, World Bank, IUFRO). Currently she is working as a consultant and lecturer at Maastricht School of Management, conducting training sessions in project management, proposal writing, sustainable development and soft skills. Besides project management and consultancy experience, she provides mentoring and coaching of participants in their individual action plans.

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