Project management tools for researchers

The project management tools that you should use will have to be ideal for the job, otherwise, you will spend more time managing the project that actually working on it. The simple management tools that you will need should be able to actively:

These simple tools and instructions should help you start and manage a successful project.

The Essential Toolkit for Project Management

Risk analysis
This is ignored by some project managers but it is very vital. It is very helpful whenever you split your risk into two parts: probability and consequence. Probability is the likelihood of something happening, the consequence is how serious things are if it does happen. It is important that you manage each of them very well. If for example, the risk is losing a key member of your team, then you should be able to reduce the probability of that happening by trying to make their job secure and make them feel valued.

You effectively manage the consequence by making sure that the work of your team members is properly documented so that other people trained in that area can easily take to.

Microsoft OneNote
This is another powerful project management tool. When running multiple projects, listing tasks against time can help you to identify peak load problems. Whilst managing the project and you notice that your to-do list is getting long, you can use some effective organizational tool like Microsoft OneNote to make it easier. It is a very important tool that is able to integrate well with other Microsoft Office suite tools.

Simple diagrams
What we don’t know is that simplicity is the best. A table that will lay out what needed to be done, by whom it should be done and when it is due can be very effective and valuable. If the table is shared amongst the members of the team, then the result will be positive from the onset.

In the table, important milestones should be highlighted and known by all members of the team. There should also be a column that indicates the current state of the task so that the progress can be known. As a project manager, don’t ever underestimate the power of visual information in explaining to people your project plan and project management structure.

Gantt charts
Another common and useful project management tool is the Gantt chart. This chart has 'tasks' down the vertical axis and 'time' across the horizontal. The duration of a task is shown by the length of a horizontal bar, and the timing of the task by its position on the chart.

The Gantt chart can be replicated in a word table or an excel sheet. It can also be generated by another powerful software such as Microsoft Project. The advantage of the Microsoft Project over the others is that it enables you to link tasks, for example, task ‘y' cannot start until task ‘x' is complete. Defining each task and linking them together can be very helpful in ensuring that your project goes smoothly without much stress. Microsoft Project will help you see the different possibilities during the planning stage of the project and this can be very helpful for you. It also generates a visual presentation of the project that helps at the bidding stage.

The Gantt chart will also be able to identify tasks that are time critical. These are tasks that lateness to complete them will mean the whole project will be late and that isn’t good. It is helpful to identify these at the outset because these are the tasks that you will need to manage especially carefully.
If you are handling bigger and more complex projects, it is recommended that you use techniques like PERT (Programme Evaluation and Review Technique), which is also available within Microsoft Project.

Certified Lean Project Manager® / CLPM
If you are handling large complex projects, then there are project management certifications like the IBQMI Certified Lean Project Manager® which are designed specifically for that. You may require initial training and support to become familiar and confident with this methodology and it is a good idea to ensure at least one other person in your team is also able to use it.

These tools and techniques are all designed to make your projects even easier. If you are handling small projects, then it is advised that you use Simple diagrams, Microsoft OneNote while for more complex projects, CLPM and PERT (Programme Evaluation and Review Technique) are advised.

Would you like to learn more? Enroll in the Certified Lean Project Manager®

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