Over the last couple of decades, the size and complexity of projects worldwide has seen significant shifts and technology has forced its way into every possible domain and industry possible.
In the above context, a vital question to ask is –
“What are the drivers of project success?”
Based on experience as well as studies conducted, we can crystallize project success as a function of three broad dimensions.
- Complexity and scale of the project.
- Project management skills & competencies of the project manager and the team.
- Use of a robust online project management software / PM Tool.
Is project management software a key to project success?
If you ask project managers who managed projects about two decades ago, I am not sure if they would include a project management software/PM Tool as a driver of project success. They would have emphasized more about the project complexity and the project management skills. However, today, project managers cannot think of managing projects without an end-to-end and online project management tool/PM Tool with diverse capabilities.
Why do contemporary projects rely so much on online project management tools?
The basics of project management i.e., scope, schedule, quality, and cost still is core to all projects. However, the complexity, scale, team size, team locations, legal regulations, compliance, data privacy, etc. have altered the outlook to project management. Let us explore this a bit deeper.
- Collaboration across Cross-Border Project Teams
Projects have truly gone global with project teams operating from multiple geographical locations. The proposal teams could be in USA, the designers could be from Singapore, the development team from India, and support from Philippines. Should such teams rely on ISD calls? (When was the last time one tried an ISD? 😉) To get such cross-border project teams to collaborate and deliver on projects requires online project management/PM Tool embedded with configurable workflows and social collaboration platform.
- Changing Project Requirements
Project requirements and scope is no longer fixed like it used to be. Customer preferences have become dynamic with frequent changes – thanks to advancements in technology. With changes to the project requirements and scope, documentation must be managed meticulously to ensure clear traceability. Documentation is not just restricted to scope, but covers specifications, drawings, agreements, etc. Managing such changes using Word processing and email applications is opening doors to inaccuracy and inefficiency.
- Dynamic and Integrated Scheduling
Imagine creating a detailed schedule (including scope, quality, procurement, risks, governance, engineering, etc.) with 1000 to 5000-line items and defining task relationships (FS, SS, FF, SF), applying lags & leads, incorporating constraints based on the availability of project team members, external contractors, and customer SMEs – the experience is akin to hell, forget the wasted effort in manually trying this and still not sure whether the schedule is error-free!
With an excellent online project management software/PM Tool, creating schedules can be confidently and accurately managed in just a few hours.
- Global and Virtual Resource Management
There are multiple dimensions within resource management – (a) interlocking business demand with capacity management across the organization at different locations (b) creating a common resource pool from where projects draw resources from (c) documenting the skills, competencies, experience, and cost profiles of project resources (d) resource requests and allocation (e) ensuring optimal resource utilization (f) proactively tracking resource productivity and efficiency (g) tracking planned vs. actual effort and linking them to client billing.
Throw in planned company holidays, region-specific work hours and holidays, and planned holidays of the team members! How would project managers, resource managers, and PMOs handle this maze of resource management?
Without a comprehensive online project management software/PM Tool with inbuilt resource management capabilities, the experience would be a hair-pulling one…for sure!
- Estimation, Budgeting, and Tracking Project Financials
With competition being so fierce, profitability cannot be compromised, putting pressure to optimize costs at every stage of the project. Project managers must perform meticulous project cost estimation by considering diverse cost categories (again, across global locations), look for ways to optimize the budget, and finally drive fiscal discipline through uncompromisable tracking. Relying on simple Spreadsheets is like walking blindfold across a landmine! Any takers, please?
Top-class online project management software/PM Tool come with embedded capabilities for effective cost management – from estimation to customer billing! Number crunching was never so cool, you see!
- Risks and Issues
Today’s projects are fraught with risks and issues that are different and diverse in nature. Identifying risks, prioritizing risks based on risk assessment, defining response strategies and action plans, and finally closely monitoring risks is critical to project success. A slip here or there could wipe out project profitability in a flash! The same is true of project issues.
With robust online project management software, project managers can manage the complete cycle of risk management with relative ease.
- Managing Project Meetings
Project management involves multiple types of meetings with diverse stakeholders. Meetings are required to finalize scope, schedules, and costs. Meetings are later required to track the project progress, report performance to management as well as customers. Meetings are also needed to gain formal customer acceptance. In all these, project managers must clearly document discussion points, action items, owners, due dates, and then ensure they are followed-up well. With so many meetings to manage, project managers do not get the confidence to handle these aspects on Word documents/Emails.
Today’s online project management software come with inbuilt meeting management with capabilities to set up meetings, capture minutes from the meetings, and follow-up action items with their respective owners.
There are certain dimensions that are specific to industries. Professional services need the best PSA Software to focus on accurate proposals, revenue recognition, and guarding profits. Pharma is particular about Dossiers and Compliance. Automotive, FMCG, Consumer Durables want to ensure new and creative products are launched faster. EPC, Solar, Engineering has a greater thrust on Bill of Material/EDM management.
Online Project Management Software Solutions with the ability to be configured to the specific needs of the industry and their products & services are of great help to project management teams.
- Project Health Dashboards
Ask any project manager, project team member, or PMO about how they feel about project reporting – the response should not shock you! It is not just a nightmare, but a daymare too!
Analysts struggle to decipher project data, make appropriate sense of the project status, and present project health dashboard in a slice-and-dice format. If organizations are still relying on Spreadsheets and Presentation software, give your teams a break with some of the best analytics, project health dashboards, and reports that could be easily configured without any software programming knowledge. Stakeholders, irrespective of their location, can access the project status in real-time without having to make phone calls or write emails.
For managers and leaders, making the right project decisions is their only job, now!
Caution: A fool with a project management tool is still a fool!
The flip side of project management tool is when professionals think that the software is more important! Nothing can be farther from the truth. For this reason, when I listed the project success drivers, I had project management tool as the third and not the first! It is always a competent and skilled project professional that adds great value when supported by a top-class project management software!
Want the keys to your next project success?
Try TouchBase Project Management Software, an out-of-the-box solution but tailored for your industry and organizational standards.