If your business delivers products or services, as your business grows your will certainly need some way of managing projects. Many SME’s are simply scared of the term “Project Management” or end up implementing a host of non-connected, counter-productive tools. In this article we look at 15 great ways in which Project Management Software can help your growing business.

1. Improve the Project Estimation Process
Many factors influence the final outcome of a project, with upfront planning and estimation two of the most crucial determinants to long term project success. Yet many businesses fail to carry out any form of estimation or place very little importance on the benefits it provides to the business, its individuals, its project managers, its executives and to the satisfaction of its customers. Project Estimation provides a consistent method of estimating your project resourcing levels and expenditure throughout the business. By implementing a simple form of Project Estimation you can easily understand a projects impact on resource capability and its impact financially on your operating budgets. Project Estimation also helps standardize the way your sales team and project managers interact with your customers and quote for work, this results in an overall positive impact on productivity, customer satisfaction and the number of projects which you deliver on time and to budget/

2. Gain a better understanding of your true Resource Capability
Resource Capability Planning is one of the key success factors for any business which delivers projects or services. With Resource Capability Planning your business has the power to analyze the impact of delivering projects and services on resource capability in real time, enabling you to better manage customer expectations, improve overall business productivity, exceed customer service level agreements and reduce costs. Although you may be small, resource capability planning is vital to any business and provides a clear a consistent visual representation of your “book of work” and how it will be delivered, it also provides an essential tool for planning your growth.

3. Ensure you select and prioritize the right projects
Project prioritization is beneficial to any organization independent of shape, size of focus, as it enables you to prioritize project related work against each other to define a sensible, optimized order of work. In fact it is an essential process for any growing business, as making use of your scarcest resources to maximize benefit while removing project failures is without doubt a huge challenge and one which can provide the greatest benefit. Project Selection and prioritization will enable you to quickly and easily assess the potential return of your project investments versus the resource and expenditure demands and potential risk.

4. Plan Projects in a clear and consistent manner
To guarantee the successful delivery of any project, a period of planning is required before the project commences. Project Planning provides a simple, easy method to help your business effectively plan the tasks, activities, roles, responsibilities and deliverables required by each project. By planning projects in a clear and consistent method, Project Planning helps avoid the disappointment of failed and overdue projects by reducing risk and providing exact timings and decisions points which help ensure projects are delivered on-time and to budget.

5. Optimize your resource usage
Resource Scheduling provides an essential component for establishing the feasibility of your project plans and for setting realistic customer expectations. By scheduling resources before projects commence, your project managers will be able to assess the flexibility they have over the use of specific resources, align tasks and work packages with resource availability, and where resources are unavailable and delays are not an option, project managers can consider alternative approaches, tradeoffs or the re-prioritization of work. For businesses with less structured or more volatile resourcing requirements, resource scheduling provides the ability to optimize resource utilization levels and increase revenue by providing the ability to quickly assign best fit available resources based on skills, experience and location, to efficiently fulfill resource requests and to manage out resource conflicts.

6. Gain real time visibility in the status of deliverables
Effectively managing project deliverables is important for any organization, independent of size or focus, in fact, this is especially important for small or growing businesses with less mature project management processes where there is no formal process of defining business cases or the benefits associated with each project. Deliverables are different to project milestones in that they represent the quantifiable goods or services produced as the result of a project. Whether tangible or intangible, by managing your project deliverables executives will gain real time visibility into the status of each deliverable and a clear overview of how the business will profit or benefit from each project.

7. Improve Budgeting/Cost Control
For many businesses the prospect of generating a project budget is daunting, especially if little project management experience exists. However, the project budget is an essential tool for measuring the performance and progress of any project. This is where project management software excels, enabling you to create project budgets directly from project plans or from your project estimates. In addition project management software will ensure you can monitor budget, versus actual versus planned to ensure you have an accurate picture of your current budget and future financial projections in real time.

8. Improve Product and Service Delivery
Every business requires an effective toolkit to successfully manage the delivery of the products or services they deliver. Project management software provides your project managers with the tools required to lead their team and to implement an effective strategy to bring your products to fruition. Your clients will benefit in the knowledge that their input has a direct effect on the project delivery process and your workers will benefit from having a clear understanding of their stake in the project and their role in its delivery. The beauty of managing projects in a fully integrated solution is its flexibility; if you discover a smarter direction, project management tools provide you with the flexibility to take it.

9. Encourage and Facilitate Team Collaboration
Throughout humanity, people have historically recognized that working together can accomplish more. However, many businesses ignore this fact and continually allow individuals to pursue their own objectives which are loosely tied to project or organizational objectives. Project Collaboration software eliminates this, by providing your business with an ideal platform to encourage your project team members to work in synergy and share knowledge throughout the project management process. With each team member making an individual contribution towards a common goal your business will quickly benefit from greater innovation, better problem solving, greater efficiency in project delivery and a reduction in the cost and impact of absent resources.

10. Minimize Project Risk and Reduce Project Failures
Most project management tools provide your business with the ability to manage risk in a pro-active manner. Long gone are the days of consolidating spreadsheets or numerous emails to gain an accurate overall picture of project risk. By centrally managing risks, your business has real time visibility into the status of risks at every stage in the project management process, what’s more, a series of mitigating actions can be implemented to manage out risk and limit its impact on the quality and final delivery of your projects. By managing risk at every stage of the projects lifecycle, from initial enquiry through to final delivery you will ensure many happy customers by delivering more projects on time and to budget, every time.

 11. Gain a real time picture of Project Progress
Accurately tracking project progress is not only a huge challenge for many businesses, it is essential for ensuring the successful delivery of any project. Project management software will provide any business with a standard and repeatable method of capturing project progress and reporting status. From your end users updating the percent complete of their tasks, through to project managers carrying out a full project review and submitting a fully auditable project status report, project management software provides a simple toolkit to ensure all project stakeholders have a clear, consistent, real time view of project progress and status.

12. Measure Productivity, Project Progress and Utilization
Keeping track of your employee timesheets and expenses and updating project progress is an essential part of delivering products and services. Timesheet software provides your business with an effective solution to fully automate the capture, submission and approval of time and expenses, to update project progress in a consistent manner, to improve project cost control and to measure, monitor and analyze the productivity and utilization of resources. By capturing your time and expenses your business is able to improve cash flow and revenue recognition by fully automating your project time billing process.

13. Improve Customer Response Rates and Satisfaction
Project management software enables your business to response to customer issues and queries in a more timely, productive and effective manner, increasing customer satisfaction and forging your relationship as a valued supplier. What’s more, your employees will work in a far more structured manner, saving time and ensuring each customer receives the level of care your SLA’s demand. Quite simply, by improving your Issue Management, your business will benefit from an increased volume of happy customers, which directly affects your bottom line in the form of increased profits for your business.

14. Improve Cash flow and Reduce Billing Errors
Many project management solutions offer the functionality to fully automate the billing of your products and services. With time billing software you can easily improve cash flow, maximize revenue and reduce billing errors. Billing functionality should enable you to automate the most basic billing types such as time and materials, as well as easily implement more complex billing requirements such as fixed price, milestone, capped and repeat billing.

 15. Improve Reporting and Analytics
Far too often businesses without a basic project management solution struggle to produce management reports and end up using excel “which is highly prone to errors” as their main source of management information. As a growing business project management software will provide you with vital management information in real time such as project costs, progress, status and profitability, resource utilization and productivity, budget performance and customer satisfaction.

Whatever stage your business is in its evolution, we hope you find this article useful and provides you with the inspiraton to implement or upgrade your own project management system.

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Rachel Hentges
PMO Influencer
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Rachel Hentges

Rachel Hentges is challenging PMO leaders to think differently about their role. Rachel is the author of key industry related surveys, reports, blogs and more that challenge the status quo of today’s PMOs.