Project management is a concept that can sound very confusing or even scary for many people. But in our every day life we're facing problems that sometimes needs a plan in order to be solved. That means we have a project waiting to be done and looking for some ways to manage it. Wouldn't be useful in such circumstances to have some well known methods capable to help us to solve our problems? Of course it will be and the good news is that they really exists. But we have to be very carefull, because they will not solve the problem on our behalf, they will only help us. It's our duty to use it properly in order to get the best results because they won't guarantee the project's success.
The first step in solving one problem is to realize that we have it. Trying to solve that problem leads us to the need of achieving some results. Breaking down the result into smaller pieces is the best thing we can do in this incipient stage. In the specialized literature the smaller pieces are called deliverables and the structure that will result is called the work breakdown structure. Work breakdown structure help us to create, keep together and gradually decompose the deliverables to a grade at which they can be assimilated with actions.
So far so good. Now we can think to a duration and a deployment in time for our actions. More than that we can see already different types of relations and interactions between our actions, begin to take shape. In the speciality literature the tool which allows this view is called the Gantt table. Using a project management software for this, like RationalPlan, will ease our work significantly, We can estimate now the materials, human resources and equipments that we will need to accomplish our project.
Materials are usually measured in quantities, meters or capita while the necessity human resources and equipments are estimated as hours of work, because that's what we will pay. Based on the calendar we will attach to each resource we may end up with different rates for resources throughout the duration of the project. For example if we have a resource which have the normal working hours from 8 AM to 12 AM, and our project calendar is from 8 AM to 4 PM it is most likely that that resource will accumulate overtime hours from 12 AM to 4 AM.
Now we can go to a higher degree of clarification for our project. More precisely we can assign resources to tasks. In RationalPlan this operation is straightforward and natural. More than this, with this software, we don't have to worry about the overallocation issues because they will be handled in the next phase - the resource leveling.
Overallocation situations occurs when a particular task or many simultaneous tasks requires more resources than allocated. In RationalPlan those resources will appear in red, in the leveling view.
A supplementary step in our project management can be the defining of additional costs for tasks (excepting those with the assigned resources). Although these cost can occur, they are not mandatory. In RationalPlan the view associated with this step will show also the total and task distributed costs for all tasks in the project.
Last phase of our project management is the tracking of the evolution of the project. In RationalPlan the view associated with this phase provides a way to monitor the project evolution while updating the schedule with the information about the tasks completion. The completed part of a task will be marked in the Gantt chart with a strike-through, darker color.