Project management is easy, said no one ever! Ensuring projects are within budget and hitting deadlines, managing stakeholder communication, managing virtual teams, dodging roadblocks, fighting fires every day, complex processes, too many manual tasks — is your head spinning yet? Project managers have to clear several hurdles every day to ensure every piece of the puzzle fits right and everyone is happy.
Let’s go over three common hurdles in project management and how to overcome them.
Hurdle #1: Lack of Data for Accurate Project Planning and Bidding
Planning and bidding for projects profitably is perhaps the first hurdle for every project manager. In fact, a recent SAP study notes that 80 percent of the project profitability is determined at the bid stage, and more than half of all projects do not deliver to plan. Most managers fail to come up with accurate bids because they don’t have complete data of all costs associated with the project. For calculating the true cost of a project, managers need to understand the scope of the project, analyze the project management methodology to be followed, calculate billing rates for resources, account for all possible overhead costs, and evaluate risks.
Inaccurate bidding can backfire in two ways: first, by quoting a very high rate, you might lose the project. Second, by quoting a low rate, you might win the project but lose money due to cost overruns. Both of these outcomes are not ideal. When calculating bids, there is no room for any error.
Solution: Move beyond spreadsheets to accurately calculate and account for all costs that contribute to the project. Utilizing an all-encompassing tool, like professional services automation (PSA) software, can automatically provide you with real-time data, and historical data from previous projects, to help you determine resource time, costs, and overheads so you bid the project accurately. It can even let you estimate the total cost of the project based on your revenue goals, margin and profit goals, resource utilization goal, and average billing rates. The estimated cost even considers other business costs, such as travel, utilities, supplies, maintenance, and more. With this level of a holistic view of your business, you can rest assured that your project bids will drive profits.
Hurdle #2: Inefficient Resource Allocation and Management
Did you know that inefficiently assigning resources is one of the top reasons for failed projects? In fact, in a PMI survey, 23 percent of respondents said “inadequate resource forecasting” and “resource dependency” are the top factors that put their projects at risk. There are several reasons why resource scheduling conflicts arise. Perhaps the manager failed to account in advance for all the workers needed to complete a project in time. Or scope creep may present unforeseen issues. Or, when there are multiple projects, a lack of visibility into schedules and limited communication between project managers may lead to scheduling conflicts. Now, with a remote workforce spread across the globe, identifying the right skilled resource for a specific project is more complex.
Solution: Visibility into resource availability, along with an up-to-date skill set, is critical to reduce scheduling conflicts. An intelligent solution that automates resource matching is a great way to save several hours that are otherwise spent performing the task manually. For instance, a PSA solution does all this heavy lifting by analyzing resources based on availability, location, skills, experience, and other criteria to recommend the best ones for managers to choose from.
Also, since PSA solutions come with built-in workflows and integration with CRM systems, project managers get notified on upcoming projects as deals progress through the sales pipeline. This level of transparency enables project managers to start a conversation with resource managers well in advance to reserve the required resources to ensure there is no last-minute resource crunch or conflict.
PSA tools with a centralized skills-and-certification repository is an added advantage. With up-to-date information that reflects the changes in skills and professional credentials of employees, resource managers can be proactive about hiring or retraining resources to meet future demands.
Hurdle #3: A Lack of Project Insight for Making Smart Decisions
Projects are living and evolving constructs. Project managers are under constant pressure to rapidly get and keep employees and finances on track. As such, they need real-time insights and 360-degree visibility into all project metrics to make the best decisions. However, older, more traditional software makes it incredibly painful to get up-to-date project data in one place. Managing project resources, time data, and finances on rogue spreadsheets, unorganized budget books, scattered emails, and distributed calendars will create many blindspots and hold managers back from reacting faster and making data-driven decisions on the go.
Solution: By using the right tools, project managers can get a pulse of their projects, budgets, team’s workload, and more. They can monitor estimates versus actuals in real time to quickly course correct any deviations and keep projects on track. A well-integrated PSA software can sync project-related data with other systems you use to streamline processes and create a single source of truth for project data.
A PSA tool with custom reports and dashboards provide managers with real-time visibility and an instant snapshot of your key business metrics, helping managers understand project status, how employees are using and tracking their time, and adapt to changing needs. And because these reports can be shared with other decision-makers and stakeholders in a reliable and protected way, you can ensure that the right people are always informed and encourage collaboration across teams and departments.
Get Past These Hurdles with the Right Tools
Modern project management requires modern tools. A cloud-based professional services automation solution that is configurable to your unique business needs and easily scalable allows you to overcome common project management challenges and discover hidden efficiencies and revenue opportunities. While it’s inevitable for project managers to stumble upon hurdles now and then, using the right tool can greatly reduce the impact.
Shree Krupa is content marketing manager at Replicon. She likes to write about technology trends that are shaping the future of the workplace. Replicon provides award-winning products that make it easy to manage your workforce. With complete solution sets for client billing, project costing, and time and attendance management, Replicon enables the capture, administration, and optimization of your most underutilized and important asset: time.