A project map is a visualization of the various tasks, milestones, and requirements in a particular project's development. They're used to help teams visualize what needs to be accomplished, and they highlight the relationships between various tasks. They can help highlight priorities, the order of operations, and so on.
While a project map is useful for the development team working on the project, it can also help break the project down for stakeholders.
In this way, it's a valuable tool for organization and communication. It can be used as a way to describe the project's timeline, help people understand their responsibilities, assist in showcasing the project's priorities, or all of the above.
Project maps are important because they help teams visualize their project. Often, a project's timeline and tasks can seem amorphous, especially when each team member is handed their tasks without insight into the bigger picture.
With a project map, teams can explore and organize data, develop ideas, and make decisions more easily.
Gantt charts take a project and break it down into various tasks and subcomponents. Anything that will take “X” amount of time in the project should get its own space on a Gantt chart.
Then, these tasks are plotted based on when they need to be done and how long it will take to do them.
On the other hand, a critical path diagram doesn't look at each task that will go into a project but instead focuses on the "critical" tasks. These are the tasks that can't be skipped, a.k.a. the requirements.
A linear path is drawn out, showing the order in which these tasks need to be done. Then, a time estimate is associated with each task, showing the minimum amount of time the project is set to take.
A responsibility assignment matrix or RACI chart maps each task to the person or team responsible for that task.
The goal here is to visually establish what each person will be tasked with and how the work will be divided. This is useful in showcasing the relationships between the teams and the work to be done, as well as ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
A PERT chart, short for Program Evaluation Review Technique chart, is a visual tool similar to a critical path diagram. Like a CPD, a PERT chart is used to accurately predict how long a project will take.
Unlike a CPD, however, a PERT chart is more accurate, encompassing every task rather than just the minimum tasks.
To create a project map, you need to start by identifying the high-level priorities. These are the tasks that can't be skipped, the minimum work that needs to be completed.
From there, start breaking these tasks and the rest of the tasks into their smallest pieces. Pick a diagram from the list we just presented, and start mapping these tasks onto the diagram. Then, schedule and assign these tasks to complete your map.
The Initiation phase is where you define the project's goals, establish the stakeholders, and create a business case for why this project will exist.
In the planning stage you'll create your project map and define the overall scope. That also includes establishing your budget.
From there, it's time to start executing your project map. Allocate your resources and start ticking off the tasks that you've outlined. Fix issues as they arise and move toward completion.
During monitoring and controlling, you'll check that you're staying within your budget, adhering to the project's requirements, and otherwise staying on track.
The closing phase is where you hand over deliverables, review your work, and get approval to move on to the next project.
Include all major tasks
Highlight required tasks vs. non-requirements
Keep the project map adaptable
Ensure that stakeholders' expectations are being met
Include duration estimates