1. Perry, William MA, RN

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The Internet has brought the spirit of global communication and collaboration to nurses and other healthcare professionals in ways never before thought possible. These resources are offered to expand your opportunities for discussion, reference, education and research.


"Project management is the discipline of organizing and managing resources (eg people) in a way that the project is completed within defined scope, quality, time and cost constraints. A project is a temporary and onetime endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service, which brings about beneficial change or added value. This property of being a temporary and one-time undertaking contrasts with processes, or operations, which are permanent or semi-permanent ongoing functional work to create the same product or service over and over again. The management of these two systems is often very different and requires varying technical skills and philosophy, hence requiring the development of project management.


The first challenge of project management is to make sure that a project is delivered within defined constraints. The second, more ambitious challenge is the optimized allocation and integration of inputs needed to meet pre-defined objectives. A project is a carefully defined set of activities that use resources (money, people, materials, energy, space, provisions, communication, etc.) to meet the pre-defined objectives." (From


Nurses, especially those in middle and upper management, are often called upon to be project managers. While some academic programs include project management in their curriculum, nurses in practice can benefit from project management tools and techniques. Planning, communicating, coordinating, and implementing a project can be a frustrating endeavor, but these tasks can be assisted by several software tools; one of the most well known is Microsoft Project. There are also several free or open source online resources available that may make the job of the nurse project manager a bit less hectic.


"ABC: An Introduction to IT Project Management" is located in the How To section of ( and offers an explanation and references to project management principles. In addition, there are sections on topics such as "When should a project be cancelled?"


Another short article on the fundamentals of project management is located at IT Toolbox Research ( This is an online community of IT professionals who share information on a variety of topics. The blogs and wikis on this site are so information-technology centric, they are probably less useful to direct care providers, but there is an entire section on project management.


Communicating to all members of the project team is a critical function. Several sites offer project-focused sites that serve as a central point for identification of needs, plans, members, assignments, and timelines. The difference between paid and free versions is in storage space and number of users. Basecamp ( has been well reviewed by the business community and offers a collection of tools for small projects. You can view the status of your projects on a dashboard with to-do lists, milestones, message boards, and time tracking.


Teamwork Live ( is another group collaboration site in which tasks can be assigned and milestones can be documented. It also provides a central area for team member communication and file storage.


Microsoft Project is an industry standard for project management software, Open Workbench ( is an open source alternative that is free to download and deploy and use within your organization. It is a stand-alone tool, rather than a Web-based approach, such as Basecamp and Teamwork Live. A key feature is the graphic representation of tasks and their stage of completion.


Timelines are most frequently represented as Gantt charts. GanttProject ( is an open source application to create these tools. From the Web site: "With GanttProject you can break down your project into a tree of tasks and assign human resources that have to work on each task. You can also establish dependencies between tasks, like 'this task can't start until this one is finished.' GanttProject renders your project using two charts: Gantt chart for tasks and resource load chart for resources. You may print your charts, generate PDF and HTML reports, exchange data with Microsoft Project and spreadsheet applications."


Microsoft Excel can be used to create a Gantt chart by modifying the "stacked bar chart" type in a spreadsheet. The instructions are on the Microsoft site at


Flowcharts help to clarify steps in a process by creating a graphical map of information flow, decisions, and influencing factors. Draw Anywhere ( is a Web-based application for creating and printing flowcharts. Gliffy ( is another Web-based charting application that can create many types of diagrams in addition to flow charts.


I hope these tools prove useful. Pick and choose what you need, then go forth and manage those projects!


Contributed by


William Perry, MA, RN