Project management techniques that will help you master your studies
Techniques for managing projects help in planning and managing projects more efficiently. They can be used for any project regardless of sector or industry. In conjunction using project management tools, they aid in helping in reducing time and expenses.
But such techniques are not only important for staff in project teams or for project managers, students can also benefit from these techniques to master their studies.
There are numerous opportunities to master projects that cross your path during your studies. Do you have to write a paper, work on a business case with your fellow students or programme an app? Here are five techniques that every project manager needs to know and that all students should know as well in order to successfully complete small and large academic projects.
1. Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
The work breakdown structure is a graphical representation of the individual tasks within the project. At the top of the page is the project, with a line running down the page leading to one or more boxes representing the sub-projects that lead to the finished project. The sub-projects are later joined by lines that are attached to and connect the smaller tasks, the work packages. For example, if your project is writing your thesis, the sub-projects might include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Preliminary work
- Literature research and title finalisation
- Field research
- Writing the thesis
- Proofreading and finalising
- Presentation of the thesis
2. Gantt Chart
Gantt charts can not only help with planning and scheduling tasks for multiple projects. It is also possible to organise and plan whole projects, divide them into milestones and then compare the planned schedule with the actual schedule for your project.
You ask how a Gantt chart can look like in the case of a thesis? Let's stay with the above examples: How much time would you plan for the preliminary work? This includes, for example, finding a supervisor, roughly choosing a topic and familiarising yourself with formatting requirements, etc. Can you start the literature research before the preliminary work is completed? Probably not, so these two-time streams cannot overlap. Estimating the duration is therefore important for you to plan your overall "thesis" project.
During your studies you probably don't spend money directly like in a project in the working world, but if your project exceeds the time frame and you therefore spend longer studying, for one thing you have to pay tuition fees for a longer time and you start earning money later. So, it is important to keep an eye on the time even if you are working on a project during your studies.
PERT is able to manage probabilities using a number of simple statistical techniques. PERT breaks down a task into more specific tasks using the work breakdown structure described above. It then inserts these activities into the Gantt chart to identify the tasks that are interdependent. With this information, you can create an illustrated diagram of the activity network with their interdependencies.
4. Critical Path Method (CPM)
Using this information, it is possible to calculate the longest path from planned tasks to their completion, as well as the latest and earliest dates they can start and finish without affecting the project's schedule. You now know which tasks are crucial to the project and which can be postponed without extending the project's schedule.
Based on this, you can determine the most efficient time to complete the project. This is particularly interesting when it comes to specifying a submission date for the exemplary thesis.
This method is actually an algorithm that helps with decision-making. It is based on the analysis of dates (start time, duration, end time) and determines which tasks are most important or crucial for the success of the project.
The expert you selected for your interview falls ill and the interview date has to be postponed or you may have to find another expert altogether? That's not pleasant, but unforeseen events can happen in any task. For this, the method offers what is called fast tracking. In this process, several tasks along the critical path are executed simultaneously. The result is a reduction in the overall time of the project. It only works in situations on which the project is not dependent. However, it requires additional resources and can affect quality. What exactly does this mean? Pretty sure you now have to spend more time catching up on the postponed interview or finding a new interviewee, and if you don't interview your personal favourite but the second-most interesting candidate instead, the quality will probably suffer a little. If this work package is not on the critical path, then the submission deadline is not in danger either. However, you can learn a valuable lesson from such situations: Not everything can be planned completely. In projects, you have to react quickly at one point or another and improvise if necessary.
Kanban can be used as a project management method to help monitor and manage projects by focusing on continuous delivery without overburdening the project team. Kanban can help the project team to work together more efficiently.
This method of project management creates an environment of continuous collaboration and allows teams to experiment and improve workflow. Kanban is ideal for agile projects, but can be used for any type of project and is appreciated by visual people.
Even if you are primarily solely responsible for the project when working on your thesis, other people are involved at one point or another: Your instructor, your supervisor, possibly the staff of a copy shop, survey participants or people who help you proofread your work. Do not assume that these people have infinite capacities - visualise this insight on your Kanban board as well.
Rachel has made significant progress from the time she wrote her first piece at Write MYPAPER4ME . A determined researcher and skilled author, subsequently, Rachel has found enormous satisfaction in sharing her expertise and experience with other individuals at StudyBounty. The position she holds as an assistant lets her stay in contact with students, always willing to help or listen. Today, Rachel has become one of the authors of StudyCrumb, willing to expand her reach and offer tips to a larger population on the internet.