All businesses have projects to complete, no matter what the size. But not all businesses complete them well. Indeed, one study found that only 37% of teams in the UK say that they complete their projects on time ‘more often than not’.
Many people turn to software to help make a success of their projects – and even small businesses can now afford entry level programs that are built with project management in mind.
Yet, all too often people just say that software is the solution without actually thinking about the how and why. Technology for technology’s sake is never the answer – it has to be used properly to actually deliver on its promise.
The key here is to understand the sort of things you can do with project management software. Not knowing what can be done – and what you’d like to do –will hold you back. Here are some factors to consider:
Identify and log risks
Every project comes with an element of risk. You need to face up to this from the very start if you’re to succeed. You can keep a track of the risks for your project by using a RAID log, which allows you to map them out in detail and prepare a detailed plan to overcome them. Arm your project manager with this document and you’ll be braced for any bumps in the road for your project.
Once you’ve committed to a big project, it’s vital to break it down to its constituent parts. By splitting the work into smaller tasks you can delegate work to the right people with the right specialisms and work towards manageable short term goals within your overall project. It can make a daunting deadline and workload appear more doable for you and your team and is easy to do with a few clicks by using software.
Keeping track of time can be tricky. It’s important that you set appropriate estimates for each of the parts of your project – and that you check these estimates against delivery. If one task takes longer than expected, then it can have a knock-on effect throughout the whole project and snowball into a big problem that threatens the entire project. Find software that lets all of your staff keep an accurate log of their time and you’ll be able to spot if there’s an issue for any tasks or any individuals.
Once a project is split up and time is being logged you’ll be able to get an in depth insight into the ‘state of play’ on a project at any given time. That means being able to spot potential problems at an early juncture and align your progress with your original plan.
Collect and use data
Project management software should allow you to collect a lot of useful data. While it’s important to track progress in the short term to ensure your project is a success, it’s also helpful to be able to reflect afterwards on the lessons you can learn to boost your productivity. This might mean spotting areas where tasks are taking too long and your team requires extra training or support or where you need need equipment to speed up the way you can operate.
Once you’re armed with data and are able to split tasks, track progress, log time and manage risks effectively then you’ll be in a sound position to buck the trends and steer your projects to success.