12 Essential Project Management Charts

June 5, 2024
9 minute read

Projects have many moving parts, and keeping up with them can be a lot of work. Enter the project management chart, which is a range of tools managers can use to organize, simplify, and effectively communicate information about a project to the team.

In this article, we explain a project management chart and share 12 essential project management charts you can use in almost any project.

What is a Project Management Chart?

A project management chart can refer to any visual reference to information on a project. It can be designed for a wide range of uses, primarily for planning, tracking progress, or reporting. This also means a chart will look wildly different depending on its purpose and the information it presents.

Project management charts are essential for many reasons, tied mainly to their visual component; graphics make complex information easier to digest, especially for stakeholders who might be less involved in the day-to-day work that goes into a project. Making information more approachable to the whole team can also improve communication and alignment. This improves collaboration and makes for more informed and highly efficient decision-making.

It’s important to note that no single project management chart can ensure success—various types of resources need to synergize in order to achieve your best work.

12 Essential Project Management Charts

The term ‘project management chart’ casts a wide umbrella of options, which can be overwhelming for almost anyone. Below are 12 of the most commonly used project management chart types across different industries:

1. Gantt Chart

Screen Shot 2024-06-05 at 12.03.30 AM

Gantt charts are one of the most popular tools for visualizing and scheduling work—its defining feature is the horizontal bar graph, which illustrates when tasks are expected to start and finish. An effective Gantt chart outlines a clear set of tasks and shows their start and end dates, as well as any dependencies between tasks.

Pros and cons: Gantt charts are great at illustrating how tasks fit into the big picture. They help managers determine a critical path, which are the tasks absolutely required to get a project from start to finish and how long that would take. When coupled with information about who’s assigned to various tasks, bottlenecks in resource allocation can also be more quickly resolved. However, Gantt charts can be tedious to maintain, especially at scale.

Ideal use case/s: Most, if not all, projects benefit from a Gantt chart as a planning tool. Build one early into your project to identify important milestones, plan resource allocations, and ensure that important dependencies are addressed on time. We have a free template you can use to get started.

Click here to learn more about the Gantt chart.


2. PERT Chart

Screen Shot 2024-06-05 at 12.05.52 AM

A PERT chart, short for Program Evaluation (and) Review Technique, is a visual tool for outlining tasks and dependencies—its defining feature is the use of arrows to determine the order and possibilities for work to progress, as well as estimates for each step in the process.

Pros and cons: PERT charts are great for making high-level projections on when milestones should be completed, and their flexible layout makes it easier to update dependencies on more complex projects. However, because they are usually created at the start of a project, they can be highly subjective and dependent on a project manager’s skill at estimating work. There is also greater room for error.

Ideal use case/s: For best results, create your PERT chart at the start of the project, but maintain it in tandem with a Gantt chart, as that helps improve your coverage of the project life cycle.

Workamajig has created an easy PERT chart template just for you so that you can manage your project efficiently. For a closer look into the concept of PERT charts, check out our article.


3. Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

A work breakdown structure, WBS for short, is a planning tool used to outline deliverables related to a given project or objective. Contrary to its name, a WBS doesn’t actually break down work; it instead breaks down output.

Pros and cons: The WBS is a relatively simple structure to follow—information is broken down into levels, translating into more detailed deliverables tracking back to the original goal. This essentially allows for limitless detail when planning work. It also makes it easier to visualize where a large concentration of deliverables needs to be accomplished. On the other hand, because the structure is so simple, it often presents a limited perspective of how work relates to one another, except for higher-level goals. Interdependencies between different outputs are often not clear in a WBS, so changes in the project can make it difficult to maintain a WBS, as a change in one area often requires updates to the project in many directions.

 Ideal use case/s: The WBS is best used in the initiation phase of a project, where it is critical to inform as much of the scope as possible. This makes it easier to determine resource allocations and potential roadblocks, and it helps the team get a good sense of their workload.

Read more about the work breakdown structure here.

4. RACI Chart

RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed. It is a chart that displays exactly that: a list of stakeholders and their level of involvement in and responsibility for various tasks within a project. Some might refer to this as a RACI matrix, which refers to its layout—a grid that labels intersections between tasks and stakeholders with the appropriate type of responsibility.

Pros and cons: The RACI chart is excellent for aligning stakeholders’ expectations on their involvement in the project. This helps avoid having too many inputs where it isn’t necessary and clarifies lines of communication between teams. However, the structure of an RACI matrix can be rather rigid and can make it difficult to thoroughly outline certain team members’ stake in the project, especially when they juggle multiple roles.

Ideal use case/s: Use a RACI chart when you have multiple teams or disciplines working on a project—these teams often work very differently, so having a unified code for how they should contribute to a certain task is essential for optimizing coordination between them. RACI charts also pose a specific advantage when the team is relatively static but works on complex, long-term work.


5. SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This chart gauges a company’s position in the market by understanding these four factors, which then inform upcoming strategy. Effective planning capitalizes on strengths and opportunities while resolving weaknesses and minimizing the impact of threats to the company.

Pros and cons: A SWOT analysis helps create a thorough understanding of a company’s position by exploring both internal (strengths, weaknesses) and external (opportunities, threats) factors. However, it can also be subjective when not paired with substantial research.

Ideal use case/s: A SWOT analysis is essential to almost any project, at any scale, because of competition—rarely, if at all, is there a truly “new” product or service today, with so many options available. Use the SWOT analysis to guide your research into these competitors to carve out the most unique approach possible to your strategy.


6. Power-Interest Matrix

power intrest matrix

The power-interest matrix is a tool used in stakeholder analysis and management to determine how best to approach certain stakeholders on a project. This is a four-way grid separated on two axes, and key stakeholders are identified when they hold both high power and high interest in the project. Other stakeholders are then either monitored, pampered, or informed, as is appropriate to their level of involvement.

Pros and cons: The power-interest matrix is great for optimizing communication on a project, especially when reporting to stakeholders who might be less involved. However, this can become tedious on larger projects, where more parties have varying levels of interest.

Ideal use case/s: The power-interest matrix is great when working with external partners or clients and when you have more stakeholders who don’t work directly on the project. This helps optimize your reporting strategy and is especially useful when working with stakeholders with less technical know-how than your team.


7. Flowchart

A flowchart is one of the more generic chart types available. As the name suggests, it outlines the flow of information, whether that’s steps in a process or milestones that need to be delivered. Its unique feature is a standardized set of symbols that distinguish between actions and decisions, as well as the start and end points of a given flow.

Pros and cons: Because flowcharts follow a standard symbol convention, they are more easily understood across different industries and disciplines, which makes them great collaboration tools. They also work well in identifying prerequisites and dependencies and, with the right amount of detail, highlighting specific stakeholders responsible for key actions or decisions in a system. At scale, a single flowchart doesn’t lend itself well to a complex system, especially when there are many decision points or potential outcomes.

Ideal use case/s: Flowcharts are best used in bulk, creating many smaller flowcharts to illustrate large, complex systems. This way, there are clear start and end points, making it easier to maintain over a single web of actions and decisions. Flowcharts are great for charting steps covering single-use cases, such as navigating from one web page to another, or a singular process, such as publishing an article. This is also great when decisions are answerable with ‘yes’ or ‘no.’


8. Kanban board


Kanban, famously originating from Toyota’s production systems, is a tool for visualizing the status of work items by classifying them into a given phase in the workflow. Its unique feature is the use of columns for each stage in the workflow, while cards representing tasks are sorted under each to match. Kanban is used in various industries and implemented in physical and digital methods.

Pros and cons: One excellent principle Kanban offers is the limit on work-in-progress (WIP) items—by sorting tasks into columns, teams have a clear picture of their workload and can better allocate for efficiency. Teams can also easily look for potential bottlenecks in the pipeline, which often happens during execution or the review/approval stage. The biggest risks to Kanban are over-engineering and a lack of clarity on the flow of work, making it needlessly difficult to move tasks to a completed state.

Ideal use case/s: Use Kanban with flowcharts to build a solid pipeline at the start of your execution phase. This makes it clear to the team how work is handed over from one team to another, especially when there are strict approval requirements. Kanban is also great for small or medium-sized teams, where it is easier to deal with a larger footprint since visualizing tasks as cards takes up more space than a typical list-type approach.

Workamajig has built-in features for managing projects using Kanban boards and other project management styles without creating separate backlogs.


9. Burn-Down or Burn-Up Chart

Burn-down and burn-up charts are two relatively similar tools for tracking work progress over a given time frame. The main difference is that burn-down charts map how much work remains, while burn-up charts map how much work is completed. Both charts are based on the line graph, where time is represented on the horizontal axis, while work is represented vertically. Work is often measured in either sprint points, the total number of tasks, or the total time/budget estimate.

Pros and cons: Burn-down and burn-up charts are useful for measuring project health and can be used to inspect for scope creep or low-efficiency instances. These charts help project managers adjust the workload across time periods according to the team’s performance, or they may work to address bottlenecks that create inefficiencies when the project falls behind. These charts are limited, however, because they only focus on quantitative data; it ultimately falls on the project manager and the team to provide proper context for why a project might be ahead or behind its goals.

Ideal use case/s: Both charts are dedicated reporting tools and are often deployed at the end of sprints or important milestones to check whether a project is on track to meet its goals.


10. Bar Chart

A bar chart is a reporting tool used to illustrate a given category value against a scale—by definition, and these are represented by one or multiple bars. The key components of a bar chart include:

  • Title - for labeling what the chart measures
  • Axes - one for identifying categories being measured, the other for value increments. The placement of the categories on either the horizontal or vertical axis also dictates the bar chart’s orientation.
  • Bars- are used to measure a category's value; a longer bar often dictates a higher value or frequency.

Pros and cons: Bar charts are extremely flexible reporting tools. They offer a simplified look into performance data and can be stacked to show more complex relationships. In most cases, the only substantial risk to using bar charts is that they consume a lot of space as a visual. Other chart types can achieve similar results with a smaller footprint.

Ideal use case/s: Compared to other generic chart types, bar charts are best used when reporting data that requires ranking based on a given value, as the bars are clear visual indicators for value or frequency.


11.Pie Chart


A pie chart is a reporting tool used to illustrate the distribution of certain parts towards a whole, represented by slices of various sizes. Larger slices represent a greater percentage.

Pros and cons: Pie charts, especially in color, summarize how related data contributes to a larger picture.

Ideal use case/s: While fairly limited, pie charts are excellent and specifically designed to show how various parts contribute to a whole. This is excellent in finance reports to show how money is distributed, such as how different income sources contribute to total earnings or how different spending categories make up the total cost.


12. Line Graph

  • Title: Unit Sales
  • Blue line = In-Store (feel free to change these colors to suit your branding)
  • Orange line = Direct Online
  • Add new lines for Affiliate Online and Retail
  • Time Range should be changed to only show the years 2018-2023
  • Note: Please feel free to decide on the specific values, but make sure to show these trends:
  • In-store sales should plummet from 2020 to 2021, then begin rising again by 2022
  • Direct Online sales should steadily rise across the entire period
  • Affiliate Online should be stagnant, then rise in 2021, then continue relatively stagnant
  • Retail should mirror in-store, but at a generally lower value (i.e., it should appear lower on the graph but follow the same rise and fall)

A line graph is a reporting tool characterized by data points connected by line segments. It is commonly used to show trends over time and, in cases where multiple lines are present, can illustrate relationships between two or more data sets.

Pros and cons: Line graphs are relatively lightweight compared to bar and pie charts, especially visually, yet can densely pack more information, as line graphs can easily overlap. This chart type also makes identifying cause-effect relationships between related data easy. The main risk is overloading a single graph with too many categories, especially when they don’t have meaningful relationships.

Ideal use case/s: Line graphs are best used to identify trends over time, as line segments connecting each time and data point are mostly unique to the line chart. This will also serve you well when reviewing how changes in one data point might affect another, such as how ad spending might increase sales of a related product or service. Similar cases where two or more variables have relationships are good to illustrate using line graphs.


Use Workamajig to Complete Your Project Management Toolkit

Project management charts are a versatile solution to making sense of a project's many moving parts. Knowing the right resources to use, when to use them, and how will be essential in fulfilling your role as a project manager. Furthermore, your projects can be further equipped for success when you have robust management software to match.

With Workamajig, the premier agency management software, you have an all-in-one solution for planning, organizing, and delegating these efforts and easily transitioning between the phases of every project. Easily adjust your schedule or modify task requirements and assignees to ensure efficiency, and use native reporting tools to measure your progress and identify and address roadblocks along the way.

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