Instructional design and development takes a team, especially eLearning and digital delivery. The team needs the skills to create video, virtual reality applications, online games, and many other forms of media that must be delivered across many different platforms. To be successful when the development team is widely separated (and not necessarily all part of the same organization) requires mastery of and access to project management tools.

Project management

In most organizations today, employees contribute value through work, and through their efforts in the context of “projects”. The classic definition of projects is that projects are undertakings that:

  • have an end date or deadline, and
  • provide a unique output or deliverable, and
  • are executed under agreed-upon constraints, such as scope, schedule, budget, and resources.

Everything else is work, but not a project.

Project management tool categories and uses

Different kinds of projects require different kinds of support. In this article, I will concentrate on the broad categories of software for projects, keeping in mind the requirements of eLearning projects. In the next article, I will provide more detail about selection of project management tools.

Project management is the application of specific knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques, with the objective of creating and delivering an intended valuable result. Like any other management discipline, project management requires planning, organization of resources and tools, and communication of progress and requirements as they change. There are numerous examples of project management software, supported by ancillary management software and services.

Project management processes and techniques began appearing late in the 19th century, with specific tools developed beginning in the 1950s. Many of these tools are still in use over time, and as you begin thinking about tool selection you will probably come across some of these specific names for various purposes:

  • Gantt Charts (scheduling)
  • Critical Path Method (CPM) (calculation of project duration)
  • Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) (project monitoring and evaluation)
  • Work Breakdown Status (WBS) (hierarchical structure)
  • Project Management Systems (for example, Oracle)

More broadly, these tools can be considered for the purposes of scheduling (dependencies, resource assignments, activity cost accounting) and information management (task estimation, workload planning, collaboration).

These tools may run on many different type of platforms or support individual use cases:

  • Desktop
  • Web-based
  • Mobile
  • Open source tools
  • Single-user tools
  • Collaboration
  • Visual

Professional associations and certification

There are two principal project management associations that provide training and certification for project managers and their teams.

  • International Project Management Association (IPMA) in Europe
  • Project Management Institute (PMI)