Project planning 101 – planning tools, templates, methodologies explained
As you know, Bitrix24 is among the top 3 free online project management solutions, used by millions of companies and individuals worldwide. But before you manage your project, you need to plan it out first, right? Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it is and it isn’t at the same time. So, let’s talk about project planning templates, tools and approaches. BTW, lucky for you, these are all available to you free of charge inside Bitrix24, should you need them.
1. Project planning calendar
Project calendar templates are exactly what they sound like. If you go into any Bitrix24 project or workgroup, you’ll see the Calendar tab what gives you access to the project calendar. You can change the calendar grid from monthly to weekly to daily view, but for most of the projects, the monthly calendar grid is the default view. Each project has its own calendar or calendars, if necessary. Project calendars are very popular among marketers because they make marketing campaign planning much easier. Another popular use case – editorial calendars. If you know how to use online calendars, you know how to use project calendars. They are really that simple.
2. Project planning timeline
Project timeline templates are also called Gantt charts and they’ve been in use for about 100 years (you can read about the history of Gantt charts here). Project timelines may or may not have dependencies, depending on (no pun intended) how complex the project is. As you can see, project timelines are displayed on a calendar grid as well, but they are quite different from regular project calendars. First, the dependencies establish the order in which each particular task has to be completed. For example, a foundation has to be completed, before walls are built, and the walls have to be ready before you can construct a roof.
Second, when you use the project timeline view, all dependent tasks move automatically, should you reschedule a parent task. If you’ve never seen a Gantt chart in action, here’s a short one minute video that explains the whole process of using project timeline templates.
3. Project planning board (aka Kanban project planning)
Kanban boards have been increasingly growing in popularity over the past few years and the board view is now the default view for many online project management solutions, Bitrix24 being no exception. Kanban methodology came from Japan and was originally used by manufacturers for just-in-time deliveries. Kanban planning quickly caught on with the software developer crowd and is now used very widely even by individuals for quite mundane things such as wedding planning.
Here’s what’s special about Kanban project planning boards. At any moment you can see what’s done and what’s not in real time. Changing a task status is done by simply dragging a task card to another column. Watch Bitrix24 Kanban project planner in action (another one-minute video) and you’ll fall in love with project planning boards.
4. Project resource planning
Project resource planning templates sit at the top of project planning tools. Oftentimes, Gantt charts are used in conjunction with resource planning. Remember the foundation-walls-roof example? Each of these tasks requires having special equipment. For example, you need to have an excavator or a backhoe for six hours to dig the foundation. Then you’ll need a concrete mixer for some time as well. Scheduling and booking equipment or worker time is called ‘resource planning.’ Bitrix24 has both traditional resource management (aka workload management) and well as resource booking in CRM.
5. Project todo list
Project management todo checklists are probably the most basic type of project planning there is. But for some projects that’s all you need. Consider planning a corporate Christmas party. You need to book a venue, find a caterer, hire a DJ and arrange transportation. Todo list is probably sufficient for this type of project, since it’ doesn’t really matter if you find your DJ before the caterer or the other way around.
So, there you go. There really isn’t anything too complex about project planning, though if you’ve never worked with Gantt charts or project management resource planning software, it does take a bit getting used to. There important thing is this – there isn’t one right way to plan a project. Depending on what the project is about, a calendar might work better than a timeline view or the other way around. Also, most project management software allows you to choose the visual representation of your project and switch between Kanban board, Gantt or List views.