Anyone who planned a significant project will know that planning is no easy task. You need to gather information, identify flows, manage resources and much more. Which is why it’s surprising to see very few decision makers make use of various diagram types to plan things better. Lets take a look at few diagram that are tailor made for planning.
Gantt Charts: The Popular Choice
Probably the only diagram type that needs no introduction. Introduced by Henry Gantt in the early nineties it is the preferred choice of most managers when it comes to planning projects. A Gantt charts makes it very easy to visualize the timeline of the project, dependencies between different tasks, resource allocation for tasks and many more aspects of a project.
Gantt charts are usually available in many modern project management software, which is partly why many managers are familiar with it. However most project management software generate the Gantt chart after you plan it. But for simple projects you can first draw the Gantt chart itself and create your plan based on that.
Because I want to focus on other not so common diagram types I will not go into detail about Gantt charts. To learn more about Gantt chart usage check this article. For benefits and drawbacks of Gantt charts in project planning check this article.
SWOT: For Information Gathering
SWOT analysis diagrams are great in the initial planning phase. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Having these information in advance makes it considerably easy to come up with a project plan.
By using a web based collaborative tool you can let all or selected set of decision makers in your company contribute to the SWOT analysis. This enables you to gather information from a wider audience and helps you to make a better decision. This becomes critical if you’re working in a large company. Often plans are made for one department without considering the effect it will have on other departments. So creating a SWOT at the beginning will help you better address those issues.
SWOT diagrams are used across in various industries as well. It is flexible enough for personal use but powerful enough to be used in large enterprises. To learn more about SWOT analysis and its usage check this wiki article.
We use Inloox for project scheduling. It works with a Gantt chart and works great for us.
Glad to hear that Ryan, we use Creately for simple timelines, Smartsheet for more complex ones.