Project plans should include activities grouped into deliverables. Learning how to use a work breakdown structure, WBS, a Gantt chart, a network diagram, and the critical path are important techniques for leading cross functional projects. Organizing project work is a key competency for the project leader.
- As you resolve to your course of action, they're some great tools that can help you manage your project plan and these tools are built right into all of the popular project management software packages. In this movie, we'll learn how to use three of the most common tools: the work breakdown structure, the Gantt chart and the network diagram. First, there's the work breakdown structure. A work breakdown structure or WBS provides an easy way to see step by step all of the work that needs to be done for a project.
A WBS is a numbered list of your activities and deliverables. You'll usually see it organized as a vertical list like an outline, but you might also see it laid out as a diagram that resembles an organizational chart. While the WBS shows a logical structure for the work, it's not very helpful in showing which activities are occurring at a particular time. You can show this with a horizontal time chart called a Gantt chart.
The Gantt chart is just a vertical WBS with a horizontal timeline next to it. Each activity and deliverable is represented by a bar so you can see when it begins and when it ends and you can see all of the activities that are occurring at any given time. Now what if you need an easy way to see the sequence in which activities will occur? Well for that you want to use another tool called a network diagram. A network diagram shows each of the activities as either a box or as an arrow between the boxes.
Here we're showing one where the activities are boxes called an activity on node network diagram. The important thing that you can learn from a network diagram is which activities are contributing to the total time required to complete your project. The series of activities, the ones that will combine, take the longest to complete, is called the critical path. Identifying the critical path is very useful for managing the project because a delay of any of the tasks on the critical path will delay the entire project.
Creating and editing these project management tools by hand is time consuming. This is where project management software becomes really useful. Once you enter the information about your activities and deliverables into the software, you can just click a button and create any of these tools in an instant. And when you update or make a change to an activity, the software will recalculate everything for you. This is really important for example so that you can keep track of whether schedule changes for a particular activity will affect the critical path for the rest of the project.
You can learn about these tools in more detail in Bonnie Biafore's course on project management fundamentals on this site. The project leader needs to know what needs to happen, when, and how the activities and deliverables are related to one another. Looking at your project plan as a work breakdown structure, as a Gantt chart, or as a network diagram can provide useful insights and help your team manage their progress effectively.
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- Describe the responsibilities of a project leader by using the DIRECT framework.
- Explain the role of Root Cause Analysis.
- Identify the common elements of a Project Charter.
- Describe the contents of a SWOT Analysis.
- Explain the difference between a weak project manager and a strong project manager.
- Explain the difference between qualitative metrics and quantitative metrics.List several tools that can be used for managing a project.
- Describe several techniques that can be used when managing the change created by a project.
- Explain the difference between a change and a transition.
- Explain the importance of capturing lessons learned from a project.