Project Management: Critical Factor for Success - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1784 Words
Date:  2023-01-23


Project management is a crucial entity of every industry. The process requires a grasp of various topics, which include; strategy, number crunching, people management, communications, and information technology. Proper management planning increases the chances of a project to succeed while poor planning results in failure (Zwikael and Globerson, 2004). Planning is a critical factor of success in a project. It refers to the process of establishing formal plans that are required to accomplish the objects of a project (Dvir et al., 2003). The obligation to conduct this role lies with the project manager who needs to ensure diligence in the task such that it captures the requirements of the relevant stakeholders. Project management and planning tools assist people involved in the project to organize work effectively and manage tasks and projects. The impact of these tools on a project depends on the quality of application such that poor utilization would affect the outcome of the project while proper usage facilitates smooth progress and subsequent success of the project.

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Some of the tools used in project management and planning are; Gantt chart, Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), Network Diagram, program evaluation and review technique (PERT), and critical path method (CPM) (Reiss, 2013). These are the tools used during planning in project management. There exists software such as Microsoft Project that allows project managers to create and use these tools. The positive impacts of the management tools include; enabling managers to monitor costs, generate customized reports, and track resources. On the other hand, adverse effects include; challenges in managing project tasks, cost, and schedule due to uncertainty in estimates, risk linked to stakeholders and steps in the project (Milosevic, 2003). Therefore, planning tools can have either negative or positive effects on a project. As a result, project managers need to ensure the tools benefit the project under management while striving to reduce the uncertainties that arise during the project (Dvir et al., 2003).

The two tools that will be discussed in this paper are the Work Breakdown Structure and the Gantt chart. These tools segment a project into simple deliverables that elucidate on the interdependence of activities to contribute to the overall objective of the project. Also, the two highlight on time and task specification, which are critical factors in managing a project. Each contains strengths that contribute to the success of a project, and also limitations that managers to learn about and how to minimize them. Additionally, these tools can be used to complement each other like in the case where a WBS creates a project plan for use in developing a Gantt chart.

Work Breakdown Structure

A WBS is a deliverable-oriented decomposition of a project into smaller sections. This tool is critical to a project because it organizes work into manageable components. Norman et al. (2018) quote PMBOK that defines WBS as "a deliverable-oriented hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team to accomplish project objects and create the required deliverables." WBS generates smaller and manageable activities for the project team. Additionally, WBS organizes and defines the overall scope of a project. It forms a tree structure that demonstrates the division of effort needed to attain the goals of a project (Norman et al., 2010). The tool breaks down a project into levels with each level representing a detailed description of the project work. At the bottommost level of the WBS lies the work packages where schedule and cost can be reliably approximated. For instance, the figure below shows a task, level 0, being broken down into traceable and actionable deliverables.

(Muller, 2018)

Gantt ChartA Gantt chart is a project management tool that illustrates the schedule of a project in the form of a bar chart. According to information from the Gantt website (2019), a project plan is required before setting up a Gantt chart. This plan entails a series of interdependent activities that are performed in a particular order. In this chart, the tasks to be undertaken are listed in a vertical order while the time required to complete the activities is listed in a horizontal axis. The horizontal width of the bars shows the duration of each task. The primary purpose of a Gantt chart is to indicate the start and finish dates of activities within a project plan (, 2019). The Gantt chart is relevant as a project management tool since it organizes the tasks according to their start and end dates, thus creating a schedule for the project. Besides showing the start and end dates for tasks, the charts have also advanced to illustrate dependencies between activities (Reiss, 2013).

There are two kinds of Gantt Charts used to represent different information in a project. These are Progress Gantt Charts and Linked Gantt Charts (Milosevic, 2003). The Progress Gantt Charts shade the bars according to the section of the task that has been completed. For instance, if 70 percent of activity has been completed, 70 percent of the bar will be shaded. The Linked Gantt Charts, on the other hand, contain lines that indicate the dependencies between activities. Although the Linked Charts become complicated easily, they are preferred over the visually superior critical path diagrams since they are easier to interpret without training. Applications used to develop Gantt charts provide ways to link these dependencies (, 2019).

Analysis and Critique


Work Breakdown Structure

Segmenting the tasks helps in reduction, management, and identification of scope ambiguity and uncertainty. It provides an overview of the whole project while enabling a manager to assemble and define the project. As a tool, the WBS also facilitates project management by monitoring, allocating resources, assigning responsibilities, among other tasks (Reddy, 2016). A well-formulated Work Breakdown Structure boosts productivity since it aids in the identification of skills required to complete a project successfully. Another benefit of this tool is that it provides a detail of the steps. This clarity enables team members to perceive the specification of tasks required to complete the project (Kinsey, 2019).

Besides boosting productivity, a WBS also promotes transparency and accountability. It provides an understanding of level details that make it easy for the project manager to hold team members responsible for completion of tasks. A well-defined WBS enables members to have an idea of the expectations, thus transparency of the activities. Also, a work breakdown structure makes it easier to develop time and cost estimates (Reddy, 2016). This applies to projects that have specific work packages. The WBS also facilitates risk identification. It identifies all potential risks and challenges, thus enabling management to devise ways to mitigate these problems.

Gantt ChartGantt Charts have several benefits that make them ideal as a tool for project management. These benefits include; schedules tasks efficiently, easily understandable, and clear and graphical representation of time frames. Additionally, it enables the creative depiction of project plans through easy addition of predecessors and dependencies (, 2018). The visual representation of tasks helps to create a picture of complexity. Since the width of the bars in a Gantt chart determines the time required to complete an activity, functions that have thicker widths indicate that they need more time thus more complexity. Also, a Gantt Chart helps the project team to develop realistic time frames since it details durations for each task involved in the project. Finally, a Gantt Chart presents the tasks in a project. By identifying the time required to complete each task and the dependencies, it provides a clear flow of activities for the project team and management (Milosevic, 2003).


Work Breakdown Structure

It can be under- or over-decomposed. Having excessive details of the project might cause confusion that derails the project without necessarily adding value. Conversely, under-decomposing a project might lead to unfulfilled projects and cause dissatisfaction of stakeholders. Another limitation is that it requires a companion tool, the WBS dictionary, to aid in the interpretation of information (Reddy, 2016). Therefore, WBS cannot sufficiently communicate information, especially because it is written in nominal phrases. Further, the process of developing a comprehensive WBS is tedious and time-consuming, especially for big projects. This complexity results from the depth of details required to sufficiently represent all the information necessary for the project (Reddy, 2016).

Gantt Charts

This tool also has its limitations that entail; being complex to prepare, and it cannot represent every task in a single chart. An analysis of Gantt Charts' weaknesses by Project-Management (2018), establishes that creating charts for large projects could be extremely complex. Another limitation is that the bars only indicate the amount of time required to complete a task but does not tell the resources required. Also, it is difficult to present the Gantt Chart in print since it might span several sheets of paper which might create confusion to the audience. This limitation causes incomplete task visibility, which affects the effectiveness of the tool (, 2018).


Both the WBS and Gantt Charts work by subdividing tasks that are involved in a project (Olutunde, 2017). A work breakdown structure organizes its information in a hierarchical structure that shows the logical flow of activities in a project. When comparing the two, the WBS is a tool for planning the scope of a project while a Gantt Chart plans the duration of a project. A WBS shows how the work in a project is organized and uses the functional decomposition principle to breakdown higher level activities into simpler tasks. A Gantt Chart, however, shows the sequential organization of functions and how they are scheduled to be completed. Additionally, a Gantt Chart shows dependence among activities that should be completed in a sequence (, 2019).


In conclusion, project planning is a crucial step in the process of developing a project. Gantt Charts and WBS are critical tools in project management since they organize tasks in a manner that provides clarity of the project. Also, these tools demonstrate a proper understanding of a project by the project management team. The process of evaluating these tools has helped to realize the importance of stakeholder involvement during a project and the value of ensuring the satisfaction of those involved. Therefore, project managers should strive to develop competence in using planning tools to ensure the effectiveness of the process. One way to ensure this is by learning the limitation of every tool in consideration, then working to minimize the impact on the project.


Dvir, D., Raz, T. & Shenhar, A. (2003). An Empirical Analysis of the Relationship between Project Planning and Project Success. International Journal of Project Management, Volume 21, pp. 89-95. (2019). Creating Gantt Charts. [Online] Available at:[Accessed July 1, 2019].

Kinsey, A. (2019). What Are the Benefits of Using Project Management Tools?. [Online] Available at: [Accessed July 1, 2019].

Milosevic, D. Z. (2003). Project Management ToolBox: Tools and Techniques for the Practicing Project Manager. 4th ed. Abingdon-on-Thames:...

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Project Management: Critical Factor for Success - Essay Sample. (2023, Jan 23). Retrieved from

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