Look through enough of these articles and patterns emerge from the rather disparate needs.
- Funds are essential
- Connections are paramount
- And process is pivotal
Without these three assets, a company keeps flailing and eventually sinks into mediocrity.
What is interesting about these pillars is the fact that they stand on the firm foundation of initiative and management.
Initiative is something that comes naturally to most entrepreneurs and business owners.
Management as a skill has to be learnt and mastered.
And using a great project management software solution makes the journey easier and more rewarding.
How Are Funds, Connections & Process Related to Project Management?
Productivity guru David Allen says, “There are no problems. Only projects.” A business venture is a large project that involves management and execution of several smaller projects or deliverables for clients and management.
It may not seem so on the surface but funds, connections and processes all benefit from solid project management.
- When companies manage projects well, they understand exactly where the bottle necks are. They constantly track how much resource is being used by the team to complete the assigned milestones and can spot where waste is happening.
Through time tracking, workload reports and approval workflows businesses have the power to ensure that time worked is time billed, that team talent is used optimally and that unauthorized expenses are not approved. In short they make the best use of funds and also save more to reinvest it into the business.
- Connections are the mainstay of a business. Stakeholders like customers, evangelists and contributors define a company. Yet they are relegated to the LinkedIn profile and rarely ever get an opportunity to be on the same page as the brand. Through branded project buckets of PM software solutions and chat streams collaborators are included in the inner circle.
Features like Gantt Charts and Status Alerts ensure that work is delivered on time and stellar performance can further strengthen the bond with these valuable connections.
- The reason why many businesses can’t grow at the pace they desire is because they keep reinventing the wheel every time a new opportunity is presented to them. They have no way to document precedents or work from past results. A project management platform changes this equation.
With project templates, approval workflows and flexible permissions it allows companies to tailor what they already have and serve new clients almost on auto pilot.
Four Types of Businesses That Can Benefit Hugely From the Use of Project Management Software
Only a third of projects around the world are ever completed on time and in budget. That means close to 66% of endeavors are wrapped unsatisfactorily.
This doesn’t bode well for companies or for the global economy.
Experts concur that all industries and in fact all departments of companies should have a PM platform in place that fits within the existing operations framework.
But there are a few businesses that must deploy project management software solutions before opening their doors to client because:
- They involve creative (and thus often disorganized) work
- They require several iterations of a product and exchange of multiple rounds of feedback before hitting on the approved version
- They need inputs from several collaborators and contributions of several professionals for completion
Here’s a look at what these businesses are.
HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing report reveals an interesting fact. 43% of marketers and marketing agencies agree that “Providing the ROI of Marketing Activities” to their management or their clients is one of the biggest challenges facing them in 2016 and beyond.
The main reasons behind this issue are lack of transparency into how campaigns are set up and how the results are analyzed, confusion around who is accountable for what and inability to minimize back and forth during concept ideation and campaign creation which unnecessarily inflates the initial investment.
This is where a project management software solution can step in and bring order to the chaos.
- “You were supposed to be in charge of the design” – In a PM solution, who is doing what is as clear as day. Not only can the account manager assign responsibilities, he can also follow up with his team members if a milestone is not progressing as desired. Delegation becomes fast and effective and there is literally no place to hide inefficiencies since a 10,000 foot view of the entire campaign is available for everyone to scrutinize.
- “I didn’t receive your instructions. You have to send them over again” – Marketers working for a single brand likely log the hours they spend working on their deliverables. And agencies most definitely bill their clients based on time. Setting up a campaign is a creative process – one that is bound to require several rounds of inputs. Under such circumstances if there is:
- No easy way to share feedback
- No easy way to keep track of file versions
People may not receive critical information to modify deliverables and might have to re-create assets from scratch. This adds to the cost of the campaign without adding to its possible success.
With project management software proper file sharing, version control and image markup capabilities are available to marketers. Iterative comments, feedback and documents are saved and archived in a way that provides each team member with a clear idea of the development history of a campaign element.
- “Did you even see the CPC data?” – Marketing campaigns have to be obsessively tracked, tested and refined for an ROI to write to the clients about. There are many tools that can give a firm access to performance insights. But is this “big data” properly utilized? Or do two team members pore over them in isolation and reach an ambiguous conclusion?
PM solutions have central chat rooms and the ability to add comments and have discussions about a particular topic. People who follow the thread can pitch in with their opinions and suggestions. This kind of open and constructive collaboration is what makes a campaign effective.
The word “operations” is often misunderstood simply because its scope is so vast. But for the purpose of this article, let us define operations as the body of processes and strategies with which a company can turn inputs – instructions, raw materials, innovation into an output that commands its own market.
Businesses that specialize in providing operation based or administrative services are tasked with producing optimal results from the resources a venture possesses.
In this type of setting where supply chain management, automation of manual processes and logistics are involved, not using a robust project management platform is akin to flying blind.
- “We are not going to use emails. We love memos” – Any operations business faces this kind of resistance from the departments of the company it serves if it tries to streamline conflicting practices and create a unified messaging channel. Since data from multiple sources flow to the operations manager and must be analyzed for leaner production or more aggressive distribution, a lot of time is wasted gathering inputs from different media like emails, memos and excel reports.
A project management solution is a life saver in this regard. It allows operation oriented businesses to bring all collaborators to the same work room, attach documents and to-do lists to appropriate project milestones and even accept project requests from various departments within the system to best serve different interests.
- “We just ordered another batch of raw material because no one checked the inventory” – Sustainability is a key responsibility of an operations business. Getting more done with less resources is the sentiment. Even though some major aspects of this effort have to be handled through an ERP, the data from the ERPs can be fed into project management solutions as clarifications and descriptions of to-dos that help team members keep their brand’s manufacturing principles in mind while taking key decisions or assigning action items (like ordering raw material) to concerned parties.
Product development sounds deceptively simple. But the actual discipline involves co-ordination between three complex areas:
- Discovery of viable ideas that might be turned into profitable products
- Development of the blueprint into the actual output
- Commercialization of the product by taking into account the 4 Ps of marketing (Link to our article on 4Ps of marketing?)
It goes without saying that the common problems faced by product development teams can be mitigated through the use of a PM platform.
- “The IT team isn’t responsive. The project will be delayed” – Cross functional collaboration is critical to the success of product development. All possible talent pools and departments of a company must put in concerted effort to create a product that is received well in the market. You can imagine the sheer volume of data and documents generated because of this requirement. The milestone specific workrooms that support multiple collaborators, group meeting calendars and status or email alerts can eliminate much of the communication lag.
- “Did we ever document the features for Module A?” – Product development equals unlimited potential. It is normal for teams to overhaul features and interfaces repeatedly before deciding on the winning version. PM software solutions with file sharing and documentation of brainstorming in chat streams help product managers keep track of the progress made and reference ideas that may have been shelved as “unfeasible” or too ambitious for incorporation in future iterations.
- “We can’t move on unless they get their job done” – Interdependencies are common in projects. But they are more evident in product development sprints. One phase of the endeavor can’t move forward unless the output of another phase, often overseen by a different department, is complete. Project management platforms allow team leads to keep track of such interdependencies and investigate possible delays to ensure subsequent tasks can proceed on time.
75% of IT executives believe that their projects are doomed to fail right from the start. This is alarming!
Nowhere is the need of project management more painfully obvious than in software development and IT ventures. In fact many PM methodologies like agile were developed keeping in mind software projects.
- “We had a timeline but everything went haywire” – Flexibility and the tools to manage change characterize every successful IT business. Since applications are making the world go round, most IT projects tend to have very time sensitive deadlines and mistakes or operational inefficiencies translate into more losses than in any other sector. PM software features like to-do lists, status alerts, overview dashboards, workload reports and Gantt charts help managers gauge progress, detect potential problems, track their consequences and take pre-emptive actions to adhere to the deadlines.
- “You never asked for this change!” – Since most IT projects involve layers of design, development, testing and QA it is natural for companies to feel overwhelmed. When this happens, change requests and inputs are lost in transit from one functional unit to another. A PM software solution that is user friendly and adaptable structures haphazard correspondences. It has formal change request templates and approval workflows that ensure suitable incorporation of feedback and action on requested items.
- “We didn’t anticipate this bug” – Post deployment co-ordination with the client is something that IT businesses must perfect. No project is going to “hit the ground” running. The kinks will have to be smoothened and this period is quite frustrating. A robust PM solution that allows these companies to add their clients to Workrooms and stay in constant touch over roll out and adoption can help customers reach success and be more satisfied with the project’s outcome.
Project Management solutions are non-negotiable for businesses in marketing, operations, product development and IT because of the challenges inherent in what these sectors demand as results.
But a comprehensive PM suite can improve ROI of companies irrespective of niche and size.
Latest posts by WorkZone (see all)
- Types of Businesses Which Benefit from Project Management Software - September 27, 2016