How to Make & Maintain a Project List in Project Management
At the foundation of any project is the project list. Project managers and teams make use of project lists to execute their projects.
Planning, executing, and delivering your project can be tough without a project list. You can have big tasks in your projects that are difficult to estimate. The natural inclination is to break down these big tasks into manageable bits, but if you make them too small, you end up micromanaging it. You can also create a project list for multiple projects.
In this article, you will learn about the proper way to make and maintain project lists to improve your productivity and not hinder it.
Let’s dive in.
What is a Project List?
A project list is simply a list of all key elements, areas, or parts of your project. When comprehensively composed, a project list is a list of the entire phases, deadlines, resources, teams, equipment, tools, and contractors, among others, involved with a project.
Another name for project list is “project task list” or “task list”, which is somewhat of a to-do list where only tasks required for the completion of a project over a period are represented. Task lists are either simple checklists for small projects or comprehensive task and resource timelines for more complex ones.
The definition does not stop there, however. A project list is also used to refer to a list of past project works overseen by a project manager in a case where he or she is job searching. This type of project list is usually composed similarly to how task lists are composed but rather than tasks, entire projects are described.
Why Make a Project List?
There are numerous reasons why making a project list is essential for the execution and completion of your project.
1. Keep You Organized
Managing projects and all the elements related to them proves challenging, especially in the case of complex or large projects. There is a lot to handle and just going head first into the whole exercise leaves you open to a lot of unexpected developments.
Creating a list of all your tasks, resources, team members, and tools, among other key project elements, gives you an edge in properly organizing your workflow.
With indications as to the processes to be followed, project lists present you with a summarized but effective framework to work with towards achieving project success.
Project lists are open to flexible updates, meaning you keep your activities and resources organized all the way through the project.
2. Task Prioritization
Project lists serve as a medium to prioritize your tasks or any other key element before heading into it. Prioritizations are done by how much effect different elements have on the outcome of the project or project objectives set by stakeholders.
Through a summarized and carefully curated list, you easily know what is important and ensure that the most crucial aspects of the project are taken care of first.
3. Easy Project Tracking
When tasks are completed, deadlines met, resources used, or contractors done with, they are crossed out from the list and you have a view of all project elements you have to work with or work towards.
Project lists are not comprehensive lists detailed with a lot of advanced metrics for project tracking. Nonetheless, they simply contain summarized listings of your key project management elements, with these elements open to updates and updated listings serving as a point of reference for quick project checkups.
How Do I Make a Project List?
A project list contains all key elements of your project. This means creating a list for your project requires you to first recognize these different key elements to be summarily documented down in it.
In doing this, there are careful steps to be followed, with each helping you to recognize your resources, deliverables, project phases, and tasks, among others.
1. Establishing Your Project Scope
Project scope is a detailed compilation of what your project entails and what it does not. Majorly considering the risks to be faced while pursuing the project as well as the project objectives, establishing your project scope sets out your project’s boundaries. It helps you determine or identify your deliverables, constraints, milestones, and acceptance criteria, among other key elements.
Establishing a project scope also involves close interactions with the project stakeholders in determining how exactly the project boundaries are to be defined for processes to be satisfactory. Determining your project scope then gives you a boost for the next step.
2. Creating a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
A work breakdown structure is a detailed representation of all the work to be performed by the different team members involved in the project.
Also called a project breakdown structure or a project statement of work, you split your project into phases which in turn helps you identify the specific deliverables in completing these phases. Splitting your project into phases also sets you up for the next step.
3. Identify Your Tasks
Specific tasks involved in each phase of the project are established and listed. Each task is accompanied by attributes, such as who is responsible for it, the number of resources set aside for it, its duration, and the number of dependencies on the task.
All these then help you to prioritize the tasks based on dependencies, how difficult they are to accomplish, and how much effect they have on the project’s completion.
4. Creating A Project Timeline
A project timeline is where you interrelate all elements of your project and organize them into an efficient project framework to refer back to. This is where the project management software comes in handy, especially one that equips you with a comprehensively featured Gantt chart.
Gantt chart software for project management helps you organize your tasks alongside their dependencies, deadlines, responsible team members, and resources. A timeline view of these related elements then helps you track them to their completion or exhaustion.
However, these software programs are not just useful for this. They could be implemented from the first step in creating your project list as they come with effective templates that make the whole process easier and quicker.
How to Maintain and Prioritize a Project List?
Maintaining your project list requires constant monitoring, updating, and optimization of it in relation to your project management workflow and progress. In doing this, the most important measure you need to take is to use project management software.
Your project list management is another area of project management where a software program becomes extremely important.
Simple project management software presents you with intuitive features for this very important project tracking and list optimization process. They help you easily implement the required steps to properly take care of your project lists and keep them effectively optimized. So what are these steps?
1. Use Comprehensive Timeline And Gantt Views
Web-based project management software equips you with multiple visualization options to view your whole project. These visualization options allow you to visualize your whole project workflow and everything going on with other individuals working on it.
Alongside timeline views, one very useful visualization option for your project list management is a Gantt chart. Gantt charts serve as chronological charts that provide you with a complete overview of your tasks and with which you track your task progress, dependencies, and responsible team members on a single hub.
They do not just allow you to view your workflow but you also get to make changes to key project elements and dependencies from that same hub.
Prioritizing your project tasks helps you keep your project workflow organized, more effective, and with mitigated risks. With a project list containing tasks organized according to their determined priority, you perform the most important first and leave the less important for later.
Now, this prioritization remains important in maintaining your project list where you refer back to it or optimize it as project goals or requirements change.
Where resources become scarce, you know which listed items you could do away with and where project requirements change, you optimize your task priorities according to how crucial they are to the new goal.
3. Resource Tracking
Engaging in resource management is another measure you take in ensuring that your project list remains as effectively composed for reference as you need it to be. Resource management involves tracking resource usage across the whole project, per team members, per task, or per project phase and optimizing the allocation of available resources as the project goes on.
Optimizing your resource allocation and reflecting progress on your project list, means you always have updated and reliable information about your available resources any time you go back to your project list for reference. Project management software seamlessly facilitates this whole resource tracking and allocation.
Giving you control over your schedules and costs, resource management software presents you with information about your team members’ availability and allows you to manage workload amongst them.
Effectively managing your time, equipment, human, and financial resources, among others, keeps your workflow more productive and increases your project’s chances for success.
Another important step in maintaining your project task list is maintaining efficient collaborations among team members and other key stakeholders on the project. Information and the communication of it keep your project, which is split across different individuals interconnected.
Project management software helps with this. Through timely notifications, centralized chatting hubs, and file-sharing options, among others, you have easy and quick access to the information you need to make the right updates to your lists.
Rather than having to jump from platform to platform in search of the right information to implement, you have centralized access to it. Where requirements are changed by stakeholders, you quickly make immediate changes to your project list due to the quick dissemination of information. Your lists remain updated at all times.
Collaboration options could also allow these stakeholders to make changes to the centralized project workflow themselves.