“How to organize such a large event? Where to start and rely on the team I work with? It was interesting how the group contained all the knowledge, yet had no way to assemble it before this session.”
– Project team participant, Fairbanks Courthouse Move, State of Alaska Court System
A project management template organizes the chaos
At the beginning of a large-scale project the work ahead most often appears overwhelming and chaotic. A project management template is needed to bring order and direction. “Where do we begin?” and “how do we organize all the component parts so that the project can be completed on time and on budget?” are common questions that can feel unanswerable. (To learn about the methodology behind creating the chart, click here.)
What is needed is a project management template that provides a clear picture of the work to be done that is easy to use and follow and modify. When we talk about a template, we mean a pictorial or graphic display of the work to be done. (See an example here).
The key pieces
There are four key pieces any solid project management template should have to keep the project on track, on time and on budget. Whether you use PGS’ Dynamic Planning® template or your own tool, make sure to include:
- Separate tracks of activity for each major area of work for the project. Does the project include IT needs, a finance arm, personnel changes, travel arrangements, advertising? It is likely each of these “tracks” of activities will be coordinated by a different team or individual. The team will operate more smoothly with their tasks called out and organized in its own section of the template.
- A clear timeline. What is the start and finish date for the project? That timeline hinges on the start and finish time for each individual task. The longest timeline for a group of tasks is referred to as the critical path, and calling that timing out on your template is essential.
- Accountability. Who is the go-to person for each track of activity as well as each individual task? Identify the key people responsible on your template so that at a quick glance any member of the project team can determine who they need to talk to in order to get a question answered.
- Inter-relationships. Are there tasks in finance that must be completed before the tasks in construction can start? How about advertising? Do they need to finish certain tasks before production can begin its track of activity or vice versa? These are key pieces of coordination between tracks that are essential to a smoothly run project, and they should be clearly indicated on your project template.
How to coordinate it all
How do you get the four key elements into one easy to use graphic. We chose a form of PERT chart to do the job. A PERT chart is essentially a type of flowcharting that emphasizes the timeline and constraints between groups of tasks. The picture allows to see each task individually, including the accountability and due date assigned, as well as the major tracks of activity that make up the project. When needed, team members can create task definitions that detail the work to complete a specific task on the chart, bringing a deeper level of clarity to the project.
Overall, the theory is fairly simple. What is needed is picture that is easy to understand and use for tracking progress on your project. We have created our Dynamic Planning® chart to do just that, but there are certainly other ways to organize the information. What is key is that you include the four elements listed above to assure a complete picture of the work.
Will the Dynamic Planning® Chart fit your project?