Project management is rarely straight forward as there are a multitude of variables that must be accounted for. Here we provide tips and advice on how to manage business projects effectively…

A study by the Harvard Business Review found that one in six projects overrun on costs by 200% and 70% overrun their schedule, therefore effective project management is more important than ever.

Why project management is necessary

You can prepare, estimate and predict outcomes, but variables and potential risks must be considered and accounted for as they can affect the resource required, timescale and costs involved. It is for this reason that good project management is necessary to deliver results.

The tools and methodology used by project managers can be used to improve efficiency, communication and collaboration between departments to increase the success and profitability of your business. Businesses that manage internal and external projects effectively benefit from improved customer relationships, reduced costs, improved productivity and quality of work.

In order to effectively manage and execute successful projects, both large and small, internal and external, businesses must ensure their workforce collaborate and communicate. There are a variety of ways to do this. Access to business data anytime, anywhere through the use of cloud is enabling workers to remain productive at all times, including at home or on the move. Mobile access, with a variety of applications allowing workers to easily communicate and CRM/ERP software that allows users to work from the same data meaning there is only one version of the truth.

Top tips for managing projects effectively

  1. Create a comprehensive plan that includes an overview, objectives, risks, breakdown of tasks, budgets and timescales. It is important to schedule in time for changes and adjustments, too.
  2. Set out your expectations, priorities and clear, achievable goals. Give each person ownership of their activities to keep the team focused. If you have data from previous projects, use this to fuel activities and inform decisions for your upcoming project.
  3. Utilise tools and software applications that enable communication and collaboration, so everyone involved can be kept up to date with progress.
  4. Regularly update everyone with progress and identify potential risks early.
  5. Track progress and record actuals and estimates of time, resource and costs. It is important to monitor the resource required for a project along with the costs involved to identify areas for improvement. This will ensure the project is delivered on time and on budget.

Useful tools

As Julie Anne states on PMTips.net, “It’s no secret that technology has vastly changed the scope of project management and how we do business…” She goes on to say, “…project management software and other resources promote the usability and functionality of online collaboration, making working with teams remotely or in close proximity a snap.”

XMind

This is a free mind map tool that allows users to gather ideas and structure them in a logical manner. It can be great for helping create a roadmap through connecting tasks and priorities of a project.

Microsoft Excel

This can be used to create Gantt charts. These can be used as a project roadmap, to analyse, plan and outline each of the tasks involved in a project, show their inter-dependencies and identify those which are part of the “critical path.”

Skype for Business

This is a versatile video conferencing and instant messaging tool. It is an easy way for everyone involved within a project to keep up to date with progress, especially if they work remotely.

Microsoft CRM

CRM is a great tool that allows users from all departments to collaborate and communicate, everyone works from the same data, removing the chance of duplication errors. To extend the capabilities of Microsoft CRM, Xperience Group have developed a FREE add-on to provide users with the ability to effectively manage multiple projects within the CRM platform.

This new extension will enable managers to effectively plan, monitor and execute numerous, large or complex projects, along with smaller tasks too. The image below shows how this add-on breaks down each project into tasks, including costings, time scales and much more…

As Chuck Cohn explains on Forbes, “The best project management apps make use of modern technology to increase operational efficiency and ultimately help your business achieve new heights.” This is what Microsoft does and this new extension allows a variety of professionals to work together on the same project creating a streamlined and coordinated workflow.

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