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How Can Project Management Tools Speed Up Your Project Process

April 27 2010

How can project management tools speed up your project’s process?  Projects – planned and unplanned – need to be properly managed with the right tools.  If they aren’t, they will produce useless results or none at all, after a waste of resources and time.

It can become impossible to manage the data in a systematic way that facilitates pragmatic analysis as desired by the project goals.  On the Administrative side, pressures like time from management and project cost overruns can help things grow out of hand.

One collection of project management tools is the Six Sigma tool set.  Six Sigma defines three distinct groups, broadly categorized as per their utility and nature.  These are Statistical tools, Software tools, and Judgmental tools.

Statistical Tools

Critical Path Method (CPM) is not a dedicated Six Sigma tool, but its ability to contribute to project management earns it a place with other tools.  A timetable is vital when working under pressure and concurrently running several projects.  You can predict the key dates you cross each hurdle and the completion date by numbering the defined critical events on the path.  Key events are typically ‘break-down structures’ of projects. CPM is basically a planning tool.

The next set of tools can be sub-grouped as analytical tools which aid decision making. For example, the FMEA, Failure Modes and Effects Analysis, helps anticipate problems through analytical interpretations.

Translate vague remarks by customer into measurable functional requirements toning up the ability of the team to design and deliver results that satisfy customers. VOC Requirements Translation and Kano Analysis suffice here. There are tools in this segment to deal with customer data like Customer Segmentation and VOC Data Collection etc.

Software Tools

Software tools do not just speed up things, but also eliminate errors from the analytical stage. Most popular ones in the category are available as Spreadsheet applications. However, notable ones are 1. The RapAnalyst which simplifies DOE and many predictive modeling activities in data mining. 2. There are total packages like MiniTab, SixNet Intelligence for enterprise-wide deployment. 3. The simplest hand tool is the Six Sigma calculator.

Even though software tools are based on statistics, there is not much difference between them and statistical tools in Six Sigma as they just differ in they way they are made use of. The third one, the judgmental tools, are entirely distinct from the other two, and draw significance by way of aiding decision-making throughout the project phases.

Judgmental Tools

The Ishikawa Root Cause Analysis Diagram (Fishbone diagram,) is handy to look at reasons for initial problems at a Six Sigma initiative, identify data collection areas and more importantly, to answer why projects are off track and not producing results.

There are several other tools falling into this category, such as the Thought Map Regulation Diagram, Brainstorming & Affinity Group Tool etc. For more complex and non-linear problems, it is not advisable to depend on the Cause and Effect Fishbone Diagram, which is more suited for linear complications. Then there is the Thought Map Relations Diagram for handling complex non-linear issues.

But by far, Brainstorming is still the more dependable ‘final’ tool for analyzing the data.