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7 Project Management Techniques to Try in 2024

  • Written By: Cheyenne Kolosky
7 Project Management Techniques to Try in 2024

The modern work environment thrives on speed and efficiency. Projects need to be completed quickly, within budget, and with exceptional results. This is where project management techniques come in – powerful tools that can elevate your projects and bring structure to the chaos.

No matter the project type, there’s a technique that streamlines workflows, clarifies communication, minimizes roadblocks, and, ultimately, experiences better project outcomes. We’ll discuss diverse project management techniques, each with its own strengths and ideal applications, and explore a range of methodologies – from the structured Waterfall approach to the adaptable Kanban system. 

And the best part? Many of these techniques can be seamlessly integrated with no-code app builders like Knack. These user-friendly platforms allow you to create custom project management software tailored to your specific workflow.

Key Takeaways

  • Embrace a Diverse Toolkit: There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to project management. 
  • Boost Efficiency and Productivity: Implementing effective project management techniques can streamline workflows, minimize roadblocks, and keep your team focused. 
  • Improve Communication and Collaboration: Effective project management techniques keep everyone aligned, informed, and working towards a common goal.

1. Critical Path Method (CPM)

The Critical Path Method (CPM) is a powerful technique for scheduling, monitoring, and optimizing projects. It helps you identify the most important sequence of tasks that directly impact your project deadline – the critical path.

Network Diagrams and Work Breakdown Structures (WBS) are the cornerstones of CPM.

  • Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): This is essentially a detailed outline that breaks down your project into smaller, manageable tasks. A WBS can be created using no-code project management software. By listing each step required to complete your project, you can visually see how tasks relate to each other and identify any dependencies.
  • Network Diagrams: Once you have your WBS, you can use it to build a network diagram. This is a visual representation of the project schedule, where tasks are connected by arrows to show their dependencies. No-code tools can be helpful for creating network diagrams as well. 

Critical vs. Non-Critical Tasks:

Through CPM, you can differentiate between critical and non-critical tasks. Critical tasks are those that fall on the critical path and have minimal slack (float) – any delay in these tasks will directly push back the project deadline. Non-critical tasks have more slack and can be delayed to a certain extent without impacting the overall timeline.

2. Cost-Benefit Analysis

Before diving into a project, weigh the potential benefits against the associated costs first with a Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA)

How a Cost-Benefit Analysis Works:

  1. Identify Costs and Benefits: Start by listing all the anticipated costs associated with the project. This includes direct costs like labor and materials, as well as indirect costs such as training or software licenses. On the flip side, identify the expected benefits of the project. These could be financial gains like increased revenue or cost savings or intangible benefits like improved customer satisfaction or brand reputation.
  2. Quantify Whenever Possible: While some benefits may be qualitative and difficult to assign a dollar value, try to quantify as many costs and benefits as possible. This allows for a more objective comparison. For example, you might estimate increased revenue based on projected sales figures.
  3. Compare Costs and Benefits: Once you have a comprehensive list of quantified costs and benefits, compare them to determine the project’s overall value proposition. There are various methods to do this, such as calculating the net present value (NPV) or the benefit-cost ratio.

CBA in Project Decision-Making:

A well-conducted Cost-Benefit Analysis provides valuable insights to help you:

  • Prioritize Investments: By comparing the potential returns of different projects, CBA can guide you toward allocating resources to projects with the highest return on investment (ROI).
  • Identify Potential Issues: Analyzing costs can reveal potential hidden expenses, allowing you to mitigate risks proactively and ensure the project remains financially sound.
  • Improve Project Scope: CBA can help you define a realistic project scope by ensuring the expected benefits outweigh the costs. If the analysis reveals a negative return, it might be necessary to adjust the project scope or explore alternative approaches.

3. Earned Value Management (EVM)

Keeping your project on track requires constant monitoring of progress. Earned Value Management (EVM) is a methodology that provides a comprehensive picture of project performance by integrating three key aspects: schedule, cost, and scope.

EVM revolves around a core concept—Earned Value (EV). Imagine this as the budgeted cost of work actually completed. By comparing EV to other key metrics, EVM helps identify potential problems early on and allows for course correction.

Here’s how EVM integrates the three project pillars:

  • Schedule: EVM considers the planned timeline for the project, often visualized as a schedule baseline.
  • Cost: It considers the authorized budget for the project, including planned costs for each project phase.
  • Scope: EVM ensures all planned work is accounted for and facilitates tracking progress against that scope.

Building an EVM Monitoring Application:

The beauty of EVM lies in its applicability across various project management software. No-code platforms can be a great fit for building a custom application to monitor EVM.

An EVM application built with no-code software can:

  • Streamline Data Collection: Record planned schedule, budget, and scope information within the application. Team members can easily log progress updates, feeding into the EV calculations.
  • Automate Calculations: No-code tools can automate the calculation of Earned Value and other key metrics, minimizing manual effort and ensuring accuracy.
    Visualize Performance: Create clear dashboards that present EVM data in an easily digestible format. Track trends over time and identify areas requiring attention.

4. Stakeholder Mapping

Stakeholder Mapping is a powerful technique that helps you identify, categorize, and understand the various individuals and groups with a stake in your project’s outcome.

Benefits of Stakeholder Mapping:

  • Improved Communication: By understanding stakeholder needs and interests, you can tailor communication strategies to ensure everyone receives relevant information in the preferred format.
  • Stronger Relationships: Stakeholder mapping fosters proactive relationship building, allowing you to address concerns early on and build trust with key players.
  • Effective Risk Management: Identifying stakeholders with potential influence over the project helps you anticipate and mitigate potential risks.

Mapping Stakeholders with No-Code Tools:

No-code platforms can be instrumental in creating a dynamic stakeholder map. These tools allow you to:

  • Centralize Stakeholder Information: Consolidate stakeholder details like names, roles, interests, and preferred communication methods within a centralized database.
  • Visualize Relationships: Utilize features like mind maps or visual charts to depict stakeholder relationships and identify potential areas of influence or conflict.

Keeping Stakeholders Informed with Custom Apps:

Communication is key to maintaining positive stakeholder relationships. With no-code tools, you can build custom applications to keep them informed:

  • Gantt Charts and Project Dashboards: Provide stakeholders with a clear view of project progress through interactive Gantt charts and real-time dashboards.
  • Automated Updates: Set up automated notifications to keep stakeholders updated on project milestones, deadlines, and any critical changes.
  • Centralized Discussion Forums: Create a dedicated forum within the application where stakeholders can ask questions, share ideas, and collaborate effectively.

5. Feasibility Study

By conducting a feasibility study, you gain a clear understanding of the project’s potential and can make informed decisions that set the stage for a successful outcome.

Why Conduct a Feasibility Study?

Think of a feasibility study as a thorough risk assessment that helps you identify potential roadblocks and opportunities before significant resources are committed. By conducting a thorough analysis, you gain valuable insights that can:

  • Improve Decision-Making: The study’s findings can inform your decision on whether to proceed with the project, potentially saving time, money, and effort if the project is deemed impractical.
  • Identify Risks and Challenges: The analysis process helps uncover potential hurdles you might encounter during project execution. Develop mitigation strategies and ensure the project is well-equipped to handle them.
  • Optimize Project Scope: A feasibility study can reveal if the project scope aligns with your resources and capabilities.

What Does a Feasibility Study Typically Cover?

A well-rounded feasibility study considers various factors, often categorized as technical, economic, financial, and operational feasibility.

  • Technical Feasibility: This assesses if the project is achievable with your current technology and resources. Does the expertise exist to complete the project?
  • Economic Feasibility: This analyzes the project’s market potential. Is there a demand for the project’s outcome? What are the potential financial returns?
  • Financial Feasibility: This evaluates the financial viability of the project. Can you secure the necessary funding to complete the project? Will the project generate a positive return on investment (ROI)?
  • Operational Feasibility: This assesses if your organization has the infrastructure and processes in place to support the project. Can your team handle the additional workload? Do you have the necessary procedures to manage the project effectively?

6. Project Pipeline Management

Organizations often manage a multitude of projects simultaneously. Project Pipeline Management (PPM) provides a structured approach for overseeing and prioritizing this complex portfolio.

Benefits of Project Pipeline Management:

  • Improved Resource Allocation: By clearly visualizing project flow, you can identify resource bottlenecks and allocate your team’s expertise where it’s needed most.
  • Prioritization and Decision-Making: PPM helps you prioritize projects based on strategic alignment, potential impact, and resource availability.
  • Risk Identification and Mitigation: Proactive pipeline management allows you to identify potential roadblocks early on and take steps to mitigate risks before they impact project delivery.

Building Project Pipeline Management Tools with No-Code Software:

With the help of user-friendly, no-code tools, you can build a centralized hub to create custom applications that streamline your project pipeline management:

  • Project Portfolio Roadmaps: Visualize your entire project portfolio on a roadmap, providing a high-level overview of project timelines and dependencies.
  • Interactive Dashboards: Develop interactive dashboards that display key performance indicators (KPIs) for each project in the pipeline. Track metrics like budget, progress, and resource allocation at a glance.

7. Usage of Project Management Software

Overseeing multiple tasks and keeping teams aligned can be a challenge – this is where project management software shines. 

Benefits of Project Management Software:

  • Centralized Organization: Consolidate tasks, files, communication, and deadlines within a single platform.
  • Improved Collaboration: Project management software provides features like built-in chat, task delegation tools, and discussion forums.
  • Enhanced Efficiency: Automate repetitive tasks and streamline workflows with features like automated notifications, task dependencies, and progress tracking. 
  • Increased Visibility: Gain real-time insights into project progress, resource allocation, and potential roadblocks. Project dashboards provide a clear view of the overall project health, allowing for proactive decision-making.

Knack: Building Custom Project Management Solutions

While there are numerous project management software options available, Knack offers a unique advantage—customizability. Knack’s project management template provides a solid foundation, but its true power lies in its ability to create bespoke project management software tailored to your specific needs.

Imagine having a platform that perfectly reflects your chosen project management techniques, like Critical Path Method (CPM) or Earned Value Management (EVM). With Knack, you can design custom fields to capture data relevant to your CPM network diagram or build functionalities to automate EVM calculations.

Implementing Techniques with Knack:

Knack goes beyond pre-built templates and seamlessly integrates with your chosen techniques:

  • Critical Path Method (CPM): Use Knack’s views to create custom fields to define task dependencies and build visual representations of your project schedule.
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: Design forms to capture project costs and benefits and leverage Knack’s formulas to perform automated calculations and generate insightful reports.
  • Earned Value Management (EVM): Set up custom fields to track planned budget, schedule, and actual progress. Knack automations can then calculate Earned Value (EV) and other key metrics, providing real-time performance insights.
  • Stakeholder Mapping: Build a dedicated database within Knack to house stakeholder information, categorize their roles, and establish communication preferences.
  • Project Pipeline Management: Design interactive roadmaps to visualize your project portfolio, with features like color coding to represent project stages and timelines.

How to Choose the Right Project Management Techniques for You

With seven valuable techniques, you might be wondering: which one is right for my project? Let’s compare them side by side:

1. Critical Path Method (CPM) vs. Earned Value Management (EVM):

  • Focus: Both CPM and EVM excel at scheduling and monitoring project progress. However, their approaches differ.
  • When to Choose CPM: Ideal for projects with clearly defined tasks and dependencies from the outset. CPM helps identify the critical path – the sequence of tasks directly impacting the project deadline. 
  • When to Choose EVM: Well-suited for ongoing projects with established budgets and timelines. EVM tracks actual progress against the planned schedule and budget (earned value) to identify deviations early on.

2. Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) vs. Feasibility Study:

  • Purpose: Both CBA and Feasibility Studies assess a project’s viability, but from different perspectives.
  • When to Choose CBA: Ideal for projects with significant financial implications. CBA helps prioritize projects based on their potential return on investment (ROI). By comparing costs and benefits, you can make informed decisions about resource allocation and project selection.
  • When to Choose a Feasibility Study: Best suited for new or complex projects where potential risks and challenges are unclear. A Feasibility Study evaluates the project’s practicality across various aspects – technical, financial, operational, legal, and scheduling. 

3. Stakeholder Mapping vs. Project Pipeline Management (PPM):

  • Target: While both techniques focus on organization, they address different project management aspects.
  • When to Choose Stakeholder Mapping: Essential for projects with diverse stakeholders who can influence the project’s outcome, stakeholder mapping helps identify key players, understand their interests, and develop effective communication strategies. 
  • When to Choose PPM: Invaluable for organizations managing multiple projects simultaneously. PPM provides a framework for prioritizing projects based on strategic goals, allocating resources effectively, and ensuring all projects move toward completion within the portfolio’s capacity.

4. Project Management Software vs. Other Techniques:

  • Unique Value: Project management software isn’t a single technique but rather a platform that integrates various methodologies.
  • Why Choose Project Management Software: Provides a centralized hub for consolidating tasks, files, communication, and deadlines. It streamlines collaboration, automates workflows, and offers various functionalities depending on the chosen software. 

Choosing the Right Combination:

Remember, the most successful approach often involves a combination of techniques tailored to your project’s unique needs:

  • Project Complexity: For intricate projects with well-defined tasks, CPM can be powerful alongside EVM for ongoing monitoring. For simpler projects, opt for Stakeholder Mapping.
  • Project Scope: If financial considerations are paramount, a CBA is crucial. Feasibility studies are valuable for complex projects or those with uncertain scopes.
  • Project Resources: Consider the time and resources available for upfront planning (Feasibility Study) versus ongoing monitoring (EVM).

Solution Overviews

It’s best to embrace a diverse toolkit to address various project management problems:

Problem: Unclear project scope and potential risks.

  • Solution: Conduct a Feasibility Study. A comprehensive feasibility study analyzes your project’s technical, financial, operational, legal, and scheduling aspects. Identify potential roadblocks early on, allowing you to refine the project scope, mitigate risks, and increase the chances of success.

Problem: Difficulty meeting deadlines and staying within budget.

  • Solution: Implement Critical Path Method (CPM). By creating a network diagram that visually maps your project tasks and their dependencies, CPM helps you identify the critical path – the sequence of tasks directly impacting the project deadline. Prioritize critical tasks, allocate resources effectively, and proactively address any delays that might arise.

Problem: Difficulty justifying project investment to stakeholders.

  • Solution: Perform a Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA). This structured approach helps you assess the project’s financial viability by comparing the anticipated costs with the potential benefits. By quantifying these factors and calculating the return on investment (ROI), you can create a compelling case for project approval and secure stakeholder buy-in.

Problem: Ineffective communication and misalignment amongst stakeholders.

  • Solution: Utilize Stakeholder Mapping. By identifying key stakeholders and understanding their interests and communication preferences, stakeholder mapping allows you to develop targeted communication strategies. Keep everyone informed and mitigates potential issues arising from stakeholder misunderstandings.

Problem: Difficulty managing multiple projects with limited resources.

  • Solution: Implement Project Pipeline Management (PPM). PPM provides a framework for visualizing your entire project portfolio. Prioritize projects based on strategic goals, allocate resources effectively across projects, and ensure all projects progress smoothly within the portfolio’s capacity.

Problem: Lack of visibility into project progress and potential roadblocks.

  • Solution: Implement Earned Value Management (EVM). This technique tracks project performance by comparing actual progress (earned value) against the planned schedule and budget. Identify deviations early on, pinpoint potential problems, and take corrective actions to get the project back on track.

Project Manager Tips and Trips

1. Critical Path Method (CPM):

  • Refine as you go: Don’t treat your CPM network diagram as static. Regularly review and update it as the project progresses to reflect changes in task durations or dependencies.
  • Factor in resource constraints: While CPM identifies the critical path, consider your available resources. Don’t overload your critical path with tasks, as this can lead to bottlenecks.

2. Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA):

  • Involve stakeholders: Don’t conduct a CBA in isolation. Include relevant stakeholders in the process to gain a well-rounded perspective on project costs and benefits. This fosters a sense of ownership and increases buy-in.
  • Consider intangible benefits: While quantifying costs is essential, don’t neglect potential intangible benefits like improved customer satisfaction or brand reputation. Try to estimate these benefits qualitatively to provide a more comprehensive picture.

3. Earned Value Management (EVM):

  • Set realistic baselines: The success of EVM hinges on accurate baselines for schedule and budget. Involve your team in creating baselines to ensure they are achievable and reflect actual project conditions.
  • Use EVM for forecasting: Don’t just track past performance. Leverage EVM data to forecast potential project completion dates and costs. This allows you to proactively address deviations and make informed decisions.

4. Stakeholder Mapping:

  • Maintain a dynamic stakeholder list: As your project evolves, your stakeholder landscape might change. Regularly update your stakeholder list to ensure you’re communicating with the right people.
  • Segment your communication: Don’t blast the same message to all stakeholders. Tailor your communication based on stakeholder interests and preferred communication methods.

5. Project Pipeline Management (PPM):

  • Conduct portfolio reviews: Don’t set your project priorities in stone. Regularly conduct portfolio reviews to assess the performance of ongoing projects and adjust priorities as needed. This ensures your portfolio remains aligned with your strategic goals.
  • Balance workload and capacity: When prioritizing projects, consider your team’s capacity. Don’t overload them, as this can lead to burnout and decreased quality.

6. Project Management Software:

  • Leverage automation: Most project management software offers automation features. Utilize them to streamline workflows by automating repetitive tasks like sending notifications or updating task statuses.
  • Integrate with other tools: Many project management platforms integrate with other software you might use, like communication tools or file-sharing services. Utilize these integrations to create a centralized hub for all your project needs

By understanding the strengths and applications of each method, from Critical Path Method (CPM) to Stakeholder Mapping, you’re now empowered to make informed decisions and choose the right tools for the job.

Remember, effective project management isn’t about following a rigid script; it’s about adaptability and strategic application. By learning, analyzing, and applying these techniques, you can:

  • Optimize your workflows: Streamline processes, minimize delays, and maximize efficiency.
  • Ensure stakeholder satisfaction: Keep stakeholders informed, engaged, and aligned with project goals.
  • Lead your teams to success: Foster collaboration, build trust, and empower your team to deliver exceptional results.

Start Building with Knack Today

Forget the limitations of pre-built software – Knack allows you to design a project management system that reflects your specific needs. 

Here are a few applications that can serve as a springboard for building your custom project management solution:

  • Project Management App Template: This foundational template provides a solid structure for managing tasks, deadlines, and project communication. Leverage it to build upon and integrate the specific techniques you want to prioritize, such as Cost-Benefit Analysis forms or Stakeholder communication dashboards.
  • Client Relationship Management (CRM) Template: Managing client relationships is crucial for project success. Knack’s CRM template allows you to centralize client information, track communication history, and ensure all project stakeholders are kept informed.
  • Work Request Management App Template: This template ensures streamlined task delegation and efficient workflow. Assign tasks to team members, track progress, and receive updates—all within Knack. 
  • Inventory Management Template: Easily track current inventory, shipments, and ordering. This template allows you to monitor inventory levels, manage shipments, and set reorder alerts, ensuring timely and accurate inventory management.
  • Volunteer Management & Database Template: This template allows for efficient management of events and volunteers, including a check-in portal to track job coverage on event days. Admins can create events and jobs that volunteers can sign up for, all through the portal.

Ready to get started?Sign up for free with Knack and discover the power of building your own project management app.