You can either treat it like an extra admin task, or the core of your operations. Regardless of how you use your tools, there are 5 essential functions you should be managing. These will help you get more from your project management, and give you visibility over your projects from start to finish.
If your in the market for new tools, or trying to get more from your existing project management tools, here's the area's to focus on.
When it comes to project management, a solid start can mean the difference between a profitable project and one that costs your business. Understand your project costs before you start is a huge part of this.
Templating projects that you work on all the time, understanding your profit margin targets and building insights into how long tasks will take - all these things help you cost your projects accurately. When you understand your job costing, you can quote more accurately and stay profitable on your projects.
Once you have the tools to set-up your project with profit margins in mind, you’ll want the tools to keep an eye on how your tracking. No matter how well you plan, unexpected delays and hiccups can cost your business extra time and money.
If you’re not tracking your project margins while you work, then you will miss the opportunity to adjust for changes as they happen. If you wait until the end of your project to check back in then it will be too late. However, if you can keep your eye on how your margins track while the job is ongoing, then you can make adjustments.
There are two key costs that influence your margins: your team's time, and the materials they use. But there is another important reason why understanding your team is a huge part of project management - capacity planning.
Understanding who will be doing what, and when they’re doing it is a crucial part of deciding if you have the capacity to take on more work, or scheduling projects in the future. You should be able to quickly check who’s in charge of your current projects, who will be working on them and when they are due to be completed as part of your project management.
Depending on your industry and the type of projects you work on, the importance of stock control can change dramatically. If you produce a physical product, then it will be pretty essential to your operations.
Tracking and understanding how much your components cost can help you better plan your project margins at the start of a project. More than that though, having visibility of what you have in stock, how much you typically use and the normal price fluctuations of that component can help you make informed purchasing decisions that save you money.
You can also make decisions around how soon projects can start based on your current stock availability, helping you plan and manage your project start dates better.
The last essential part of project management can often be overlooked, but keeping track of the documents and paper trail can be crucial. Firstly, it helps you to confirm key details that have been agreed to, like quote cost and project start date.
Secondly, keeping solid historical data can help you get better at understanding your projects. Keeping your old quotes can help you build templates and understand what costs to expect on common projects. Creating document templates like quotes, proposals and invoices can also help you to save time creating new project management documents.