Module Seven: Using Project Management Techniques

Using Project Management Techniques

Project management is the art and science of planning, organizing, and managing resources to ensure that a project is completed successfully. Although project management tools are often used for major endeavors, we can scale down some of them and use them in our day to day work. This module will give you an introduction to key project management techniques and ideas and show you how to use them to become more productive. 

The Triple Constraint  

The Triple Constraint illustrates the balance of the project’s scope, schedule (time), quality, and cost. During the planning phase of a project, the project management team defines the project scope, time, cost, and quality of a project. As the process continues, the project managers discover that there may be changes or adjustments to be made in one of these areas. When this happens, the other factors of the triple constraint are likely to be affected as well.  


For example, if the cost increases, it is logical to assume that the scope and time will increase as well. The same thing happens if the cost decreases; the scope and time will decrease too.  

It is the job of the project manager, and sometimes the project team, to identify how a change to a single element will change the other elements. 


Creating the Schedule  

The next task is to build the schedule. A good schedule will allow you to will grow and change while you’re working on your task or project. Keep it up to date to make sure that you will meet your deadlines.  

There are many scheduling tools out there. For personal task management, we prefer a simple, table-style format. 

The first column lists the tasks that need to be performed. This list is typically organized in the order in which the tasks will be accomplished chronologically. If it’s a large project, think of how it might be broken up into phases, to help subdivide tasks that will be performed.  

The second column specifies the duration time of each task listed. This duration might be listed in terms of days, weeks, or hours, depending on the project.  

If you are relying on other people or machines to help you complete your task, make a list of restrictions and availabilities. 

Let’s look at Joe and Sue. They want to paint their guest room this weekend. Here is a summary of their availabilities: 

 Friday Saturday 
Joe 5 p.m.-10 p.m. 9 a.m.-10 a.m. 

1 p.m.-5 p.m. 

Sue 5 p.m.-10 p.m. 10 a.m.-noon 

1 p.m.-5 p.m. 


Here is an example schedule for our room-painting project. 


Task Calculated Time People Required Start Time and Date End Time and Date 
  1. Get paint samples 
1 hour Sue, Joe 5 p.m. Friday 6 p.m. Friday 
     2. Choose a paint color 2 hours Sue, Joe 6 p.m. Friday 8 p.m. Friday 
     3. Remove all furniture 1 hour Joe 8 p.m. Friday 9 p.m. Friday 
     4. Take off trim ½ hour Joe 9 p.m. Friday 10 p.m. Friday 
       5. Paint trim 1 hour Sue or Joe 9 a.m. Saturday  10 a.m. Saturday 
      6. Apply first coat 2 hours Sue or Joe 10 .am. Saturday  Noon Saturday 
      7. Apply second coat 2 hours Sue or Joe 1 p.m. Saturday  3 p.m. Saturday 
     8. Put trim back in ½ hour Joe 3 p.m. Saturday 3:30 p.m. Saturday 
   9. Put all furniture back   in 1 hour Joe 3:30 p.m. Saturday 4:30 p.m. Saturday 


Here are some tips to make your schedule efficient, accurate, and useful. 

  • Look for places where resources can perform activities simultaneously. 
  • Indicate milestones in your schedule. Milestones are identifiable points in your project that require no resources or time. They are simply a key point in time. They can also help you group your project into phases. Milestones in this project might be: 
  • Have paint color chosen 
  • Have room cleaned out 
  • Get painting complete 
  • Have room put back together 
  • If you are delivering a business project, try to include deliverables with the milestones. This way, sponsors and stakeholders have tangible results at various stages in the project, and are more likely to stay interested and committed. 
  • Make sure to include lag and lead time in your tasks. In the painting project, for example, there is little to no time allotted for the paint to dry between coats. The project will definitely fall behind schedule. 


Using a RACI Chart 

A RACI chart is an excellent way to outline who is responsible for what during a project or task. To start, create a chart with tasks listed on the left hand side, and resources listed across the top. Now, put the appropriate letter in each cell: 

  • R: Responsible for execution 
  • A: Approver 
  • C: Consult 
  • I: Keep informed 


 Sue Bob Joe Jane 
Build widget plan A R I I 
Build widget R A C I 
Ship widget to customers I I I R 
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