We all have tasks and projects, whether it's a Fortune 500 company, a 5 person student group, or even your startup we all have projects and a way of tracking them.
It's helpful to have a visual way of tracking projects because you easily see what's going on and stay up-to-date. It can also make it more visually appealing to update and monitor!
In this post I'll discuss four ways you can manage and track your projects visually.
1. Using A Spreadsheet To Track Projects
Everyone is familiar with spreadsheets, so what better way to track your team's projects! You can create columns to line up tasks, and keep up-to-date with what's going on. Using color coding and blocking you can create dependencies for your project as well.
A spreadsheet will also let you filter tasks, so you can search by team member, due date, or other variables. Staying in sync is easy particularly when using a web based spreadsheet (like Google Docs) so you can access your project from anywhere!
2. Using Burn Down Charts To Track Projects
A burn down chart is a graphical representation of the work left in a project versus the time elapsed. Burn down charts are most frequently used by software development teams practicing agile development techniques, but they can also be useful where projects have measurable progress.
A chart with progress can often be the best way of seeing at a glance what's going on in your project. Furthermore by including an 'ideal work line' and an 'actual work line', team members can easily check progress.
3. Using A Gantt Chart To Track Projects
Ah, the Gantt chart, named after Henry Gantt the American engineer that created it. A Gantt chart uses colored bars to shows progress. It makes it easy to see what your due dates, and dependencies are. It's also an extremely commonly used project illustration making it easy to share with others.
Gantt charts also make it easy to keep your entire project on one page, and allow you to figure out what percentage of your team's tasks are still outstanding.
4. Using A Task List To Track Projects
Task lists are great for any size team or organization. They are intuitive, and used by almost everyone intentionally or unintentionally. What's particularly unique about task lists is they can be created anywhere: a whiteboard, a piece of paper, or even a piece of software like Siasto that let's you assign tasks and add dates.
Task lists are great for noting down ideas quickly, without the need for a formula or calculation, and are particularly good for collaborative projects where many people are involved. Task list's are also very easy to glance over and understand, and can be modified making projects easy to manage.
Other considerations are Edward Tufte's blog, where he discusses improving Gantt charts to accomodate computer screens. And Ronald Mascitelli's chapter 4 in Mastering Lean Product Development, a more detailed exploration of several project management techniques.
Visual methods of tracking projects can be far easier to digest when you are collaborating with your team, so choose wisely!