Project management charts are graphical representations of project-related data. These charts contain a wide variety of project information including tasks, task dependencies, milestones, deadlines, and available resources.
Project managers can use these charts to make data-driven decisions about active projects. Project management charts are highly versatile project management tools that are most commonly used to optimize task management, team collaboration, resource management, and progress tracking.
According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), 11% of project investments are wasted due to poor project performance. By organizing and increasing the transparency of project management processes, project management chart development can help businesses develop successful project strategies.
In this article, we will cover why companies should create project management charts and how to create a project management chart customized for your department or organization. We will also explore how to create various types of customized project management charts using MindManager®.
Why businesses and organizations should create project management charts
No matter the size or complexity of a project, project management charts help keep teams on track. By leveraging a graphical representation of project data, your team will be able to track and make changes to your project plan to optimize operations.
Here are a few of the most obvious benefits your company will gain from creating and using project charts to manage project initiatives:
Enhanced team productivity. One of the most common factors associated with project failure is an unclear statement of requirements. It’s crucial for team members to understand what the requirements of a project are and how those needs will be met for them to perform optimally.
Project management charts enable project managers to assign specific tasks to members of their team and track their progress over the duration of the project. This helps project managers ensure that every member fully understands how they contribute to the overall project objective. When a team collectively understands the impact their efforts have on the success of a project, they tend to perform better, increasing team productivity and morale.
Increased project transparency and accountability. Stakeholder communication is a crucial component of any company initiative. By using project charts, project managers will be able to share an in-depth understanding of project activities with key stakeholders. This includes any leads or delays in the progress of the project, which provides stakeholders with a transparent look at the overall health of the project.
When project stakeholders have the ability to access metrics regarding the progression of a given project, it also instills a sense of accountability among project team members. Utilizing a visual project plan format enables team members to easily check their progress via a collectively shared document, enabling them to better support each other over the duration of a project.
Improved resource planning. Poor resource planning can be the downfall of an otherwise well-planned project initiative. Without proper resource planning, your business may not have the materials, labor, equipment, money, space, time, or services needed to successfully reach project goals.
Thankfully, there are a few types of project management charts that are specifically designed to help project managers assess the availability of project resources and how they should be allocated. Notably, Gantt charts are used by project managers to aid decision-making processes that involve assignment, redistribution, and withdrawal of project resources. By using project management charts for resource planning, organizations can save revenue by reducing the amount of wasted resources.
Enhanced data visualization. Project management as a practice is extremely data rich. Project managers are constantly capturing, analyzing, and communicating various project data points such as labor estimates, risk profiles, operational expenses, and performance metrics to their teams. However, communicating these metrics to project stakeholders and team members can prove difficult when using lengthy, text-based documentation.
Project management charts empower project managers to share a visual representation of key metrics with their team and other stakeholders to ensure that everyone involved in the project is on the same page. These charts can be consumed by stakeholders in a much shorter amount of time than traditional forms of data communication. With project management charts, project managers can deliver information to any authorized persons in a manner that is most convenient to them.
How to create a project management chart specific to your department or organization
Now that we have discussed what project management charts are and the benefits they can offer your organization, let’s look at how to create a project management chart for your department or organization.
Follow these five steps to create a dependable project management chart:
1. Identify project objectives and constraints.
Consider the overall goal of the project at hand. What short-term milestones must be completed to reach this goal? These short-term achievements are referred to as project objectives.
To identify project constraints, list and describe all the potential risks and limitations that may need to be addressed to ensure project success. In project management, there are three primary constraints that managers should be concerned with: time, scope, and cost.
Typically, each of these three constraints affect one another. According to the theory of constraints, there will always be one project constraint that can potentially put the project at risk. For instance, if the scope of your project begins to widen (often by the addition of a new product feature), it is likely that your project budget and timeline will be affected.
On your project management chart, clearly state the determined project objectives and constraints for that project initiative. This will help you communicate project needs to your team and enable you to make necessary adjustments to your plan over the duration of a project to ensure the project progresses smoothly.
2. Describe all project tasks and task dependencies in detail.
Consider what activities need to take place over the duration of your project to produce both tangible and intangible project deliverables. In project management, these activities are referred to as project tasks.
Be sure to describe all project tasks in detail, breaking larger tasks into smaller subtasks when necessary. Don’t worry about categorizing your task list or assigning tasks to team members just yet.
Next, identify task dependencies. Task dependencies represent the order in which tasks should be performed. You can identify dependencies by considering the impact that each task has on other project tasks. Can you start a specific task without the prior task being finished first? If you answer no to this question, then the prior task is considered a task dependency.
On project management charts, task dependencies are often represented by an arrow, line, or other symbols that depict the direction activities within a project flow.
3. Assign task resources.
There are various types of resources that may be needed to achieve project goals. This may include material, financial, human, and technological resources. Resource allocation is one of the most important aspects of project management because it can impact all of three project constraints: time, scope, and cost.
To assign resources to your project tasks, simply review your task list and determine which available resources are needed to complete each activity. On your project management chart, make sure each task description details the resources necessary for completion.
4. Determine project deadlines and milestones.
Use data-driven estimations drawn from project post-mortems to determine project deadlines and milestones for your project. Predict how long it will take to complete each activity on your project task list. These estimations should be somewhat generous to account for unforeseen problems or risk factors that may delay task completion.
Once you have set project deadlines and milestones, add this information to your project management chart. This helps your team visualize the timeline of the project and what they need to accomplish during each timeframe.
5. Input project data into a project management chart template.
Now that you have gathered all the necessary project information, you can begin to create your project management chart using data visualization software. Simply choose a template that represents the project information in the way that works best for your team.
Remember that project management charts can be quite simple or very complex, it all depends on the amount and type of information you need to communicate to others. Be sure to choose a project management template that optimizes the project management process and enables you to provide your team with a greater understanding of what is required to reach set project goals.
How to use MindManager to develop various types of project management charts
Project management charts come in various shapes and forms, but they all enable project managers to better communicate their project plans and manage project operations. Here are a few types of project management chart templates included in MindManager:
Flowcharts are visual representations of an existing company process. Flowcharts in general come in many shapes and forms that prove valuable when used for project management purposes.
To track and manage projects, teams typically use flowcharts such as PERT charts, which are used to detail task dependencies, or workflow diagrams that specifically depict the flow of a project, step-by-step. Flowcharts are best used for smaller projects to outline task relationships, or to explain the flow of subtasks within a complex project activity.
Project managers can use a flowchart template to quickly assemble project flowcharts to inform their team members of the sequence that tasks should be completed in. MindManager’s easy-to-use drag-and-drop functionalities enable project managers to facilitate this process much more quickly than they would be able to if they created a flowchart from scratch.
Example flowchart made with MindManager.
Gantt charts are data-driven bar charts that track a project’s progress over time. Time increments, usually in the form of weeks or months, are placed on the x-axis. Project elements such as tasks and deliverables are placed on the y-axis.
These charts are typically used by project managers to establish project deadlines, assign roles and responsibilities to team members, and estimate a project’s timeline.
Use MindManager’s digital Gantt chart templates to efficiently add task constraints, manage project resources, and share project activities with your team. Use the “Show Gantt Pro” button located on the “View” tab in your MindManager app to show your project in Gantt chart format as depicted below.
Example Gantt chart made with MindManager.
This type of project management chart chronologically depicts a series of events, otherwise known as a timeline. Timeline charts or graphs help teams understand the various deadlines and milestones that make up the duration of a project.
Project managers use timeline charts to manage complex tasks and ensure that all project tasks commence on time. This makes it easier for managers to allocate resources to project activities at the most optimal times.
To make a timeline chart using MindManager, simply outline the various events and processes involved in your project workflow. Identify a project start and end date. Next, determine project milestones and deadlines and add them to the timeline.
With MindManager’s coediting capabilities, your team will be able to efficiently add and alter your project’s workflow diagram no matter their physical location.
Example project timeline made with MindManager.
Work breakdown structure (WBS)
Work breakdown structures (WBSs) are hierarchical diagrams that break projects into discrete tasks. At the top of the diagram is the purpose of the project, otherwise known as the end-product or deliverable.
The subsequent levels of the diagram divide the project into tasks that must be completed to produce the project deliverable. To create a WBS, project managers usually start at the designated project end date or desired launch date and list tasks backwards until they determine a project start date.
These types of diagrams should be used to get a sense of what departments within the business need to be involved in the project. Creating a WBS is a great way to begin scheduling complex projects that may seem daunting. However, work breakdown structures do not show dependencies, project timelines, or the order of tasks. So, project managers should use WBSs to relay a bird’s eye view of an upcoming project to their team and key project stakeholders.
Utilize MindManager’s tree diagram templates to effectively create and distribute a WBS that meets your needs as a project manager. Simply import your project deliverables and work backwards through the project timeline, listing tasks until you reach the project start date.
Example work breakdown structure made with MindManager.
Use MindManager to create customized project management charts
With MindManager, there is no need to worry about the technical capabilities of your project team. MindManager’s user-friendly dashboard makes it easy for your team to access and edit project management charts regardless of their technical training.
Mind Manager also features drag-and-drop capabilities that enable users to efficiently create and alter project management charts. Simply select the object you would like to add to your chart and place it where it needs to be. Teams can also utilize MindManager’s co-editing features to collaborate on project management charts regardless of their physical location, making MindManager an ideal solution for remote organizations.