Photo by Sebastiaan ter Burg (Flickr),, Licensed under CC BY 2.0
It struck me the other day as I was doing my daily project management that it has literally never been easier to manage projects, and yet, it's never been more intricate. I thought back to my past systems - not just digital tools, but an intricate series of Post-Its and emails to myself - and it's amazing to me what I'm capable of tracking now with the click of a button. This thought led to wondering how many people are still stuck in the Post-It days and whether or not they know the benefits of business software, which led to this blog post.
It's not always easy to convey the benefits that I've found in using project management software, so I'll use an example project. Let's say you have just been asked to create the marketing materials for a new client.
If I got this order, the first thing I would need to do is make sure we had the time and manpower to complete it. Suppose the client ordered a basic package, which takes my company 20 man-hours to complete. With project management software, I know how much time our marketing team has, which can allow me to determine how long the project will take to get done. The team can devote five hours a week to the project? Great: We'll deliver the completed project in 30 days.
Now that you've started execution of the project, having a team that reports to you through your PM system means that you can make sure that your team is on track. If things are falling behind, you can reallocate time from other members of the team if possible, or you can get in touch with the client and let them know there is a delay. Clients are much more understanding of delays if you are in communication with them, and business software allows you to let them know the second there's a problem.
Keeping Within the Scope of the Project
Any project manager will tell you that keeping projects within their original scope is one of the most difficult aspects of project management. Keeping molehills from becoming mountains and ensuring that the client is paying for every additional service you want to provide can be tricky. A project management system allows you to notice your team putting in more hours than the project allows and gives you the opportunity to discuss a solution before it starts eating into your margin.
Your Team Gets a Direct Channel to You
One of the mistakes I see people make with a project management system is that they use it as a way of tracking their teams and giving directives. A PM system is at its best when you use it as a two-way communication device. Encourage your team to communicate with you at any roadblock. This way, you're not only sharing the responsibility of execution, but you're teaching the importance of communication from a broader company-wide perspective.
Testing New Procedures
With this client, we've decided to finally put into practice a new production method that should save us 20% of the total time for our base marketing package. With a project management system, we can see if it actually does. Furthermore, depending on how detailed you've gotten with your project management system, you can pinpoint any inefficiencies in this new process, thereby keeping costs down and your boss happy.
Now that we've kept track of the project using our handy project management system, we not only were able to keep track of our progress, communicate with our team, and keep our project from getting out of hand, but we developed and were able to analyze a new way of doing things, ultimately saving the company money. It's not a bad day at the office, and it wouldn't have been possible without embracing the power of a project management system.