Managing projects: basics and tools

By May 28, 2021 June 4th, 2021 Tips & tricks
Desk with mac and project in the background

La project management is one of the key elements in the success of a business. Every entrepreneur must deal with the challenges that the market places before him or her every day, and a good knowledge of management techniques can make all the difference. The project management is the set of techniques and activities aimed at planning, managing and achieving the objectives of a project.

What is a project?

A project is a set of actions that are carried out over time by a group of people to achieve a goal. Each project can be divided into five main phases:

  • The first phase is the inception phase, in which project requirements and objectives are defined;
  • The next phase is the planning phase, in which one begins to plan the activities that must be carried out to achieve the objectives. Among the various activities, it is appropriate to define what resources are to be employed and their responsibilities, the costs to be incurred, the potential risks to be faced, and the duration of the individual activities themselves;
  • The third phase is the execution phase, in which the activities planned in the previous phase are put into practice;
  • The fourth phase is the monitoring and control phase, which cannot be classified as an independent phase because it invests all the previous ones. The purpose is to check the progress of the project and to highlight any deviations from the operational plan in order to take timely countermeasures to bring it back on track.
  • The last stage is the closing stage, where all activities have been completed and the product or service is delivered to the customer.

Who is in charge of project management?

It is precisely the figure of the project manager to devote himself to the planning, check e monitoring Of the various activities to be performed to achieve the set goals.

He/she will be primarily responsible for the project and will have the additional task of validating corrective actions to be applied when a problem is encountered during project execution.

Waterfall or Agile methodology?

There are two main methodologies for project management: Waterfall and Agile. The waterfall methodology, or also referred to as traditional, takes its name from the fact that it involves carrying out the activities of the different phases in a linear and sequential manner and especially, making the phases independent of each other. This methodology is based on the assumption of completing the project within the time, cost, objectives and quality. However, despite the ability to meet the above specifications the results very often are not satisfactory to the client. This is because by following this methodology, we dwell on what we think the client wants, but not on the actual needs. Moreover, the client's wishes are never taken into consideration except at the planning and delivery stage. Taking into account the rigidity and lack of customer approach, the traditional methodology is hardly a good starting point anymore.

In this regard, the Agile methodology, an incremental and iterative approach that fully involves the end client during the implementation of the different phases of work. One of the main advantages is to deliver work packages to the client that they can test and validate from time to time, resulting in the achievement of the optimal goal and continuous improvement of the project team.

There is one main difference between Agile and Waterfall: in the traditional methodology, the goal is to complete the product following the requirements set during the initial planning. In Agile, on the other hand, at each iteration the customer is given the opportunity to check the progress of the project and provide feedback by analyzing the package released to him from time to time.

What documents can a project manager draft?

Usually when it comes to project management, the characteristic documents that are considered are:

  • the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), a list with the main activities to be carried out to complete the project;
  • l'Organization Breakdown Structure (OBS), an official document with the organizational structure of the project;
  • the Responsibility Matrix, in which the responsibilities of all resources actively participating in the project are included;
  • the Gantt Chart, a representation used to assess the duration of activities and the critical path of the whole project, usually used in traditional methodology.

What management tools can a project manager use?

Nowadays, other digital tools intervene to support the project manager in his work. There are, in fact, several software by project management which are used by most of the world's companies. Among them: Asana, Click-up and Jira.

Asana

Created in 2008 by Moskovitz and Rosenstein, Asana is an instrument of task management widely used for enterprise project management. It is a freemium platform, with the option to purchase a paid package with additional features, and allows through an email login, to share a virtual space in which to organize and design tasks to accomplish a project's goals. In each space it is possible to assign tasks, insert tags and change their display in different ways: board with corresponding columns, calendar or task list.

Click-up

Created March 2017, Click-up has a structure very similar to that of Asana. In fact, the U.S.-based platform provides the option of subscribing to a freemium subscription or purchasing a paid package with additional features. Again, users are given the opportunity to share a virtual space with related tasks, assign them to resources, and view them in different ways. In the basic version, however, it provides a list of pre-filled templates that can be used immediately and has a number of additional innovative features compared to industry competitors.

Jira

Created in 2002, Jira is a group application software used for monitoring and tracking bugs and tickets and for project management in Agile. Several innovative boards including scrum and kanban can be selected on the platform.

April saw the release of Jira Work Management JWK, a management tool that enables work planning and tracking across project teams. Among other benefits, JWM enables Agile-like management, the creation and management of standardized work processes, and the generation of customized workflows.

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