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Ashley Miller explains how a project management system could be just the thing your business needs.

Time and time again professional services businesses face the worrying prospect of projects spiralling out of control, going both over budget and over schedule. Where once projects might have been smaller and more straightforward to manage, with business growth comes increased project complexity. So, the tools that project managers once used to successfully oversee projects no longer cut the mustard, leaving project managers frustrated, stressed and overworked, with little or no scope for achieving projects on time, on budget and on plan.

Recognising this growing problem, more and more businesses are using project management enterprise software products and seeing impressive results. But for those of us not already in-the-know, what exactly is a project management system and how can it help your business? Well, in short, it’s a software solution that comprehensively manages an entire project, from planning, resource management, costings, purchasing, time and expense management, right through to ongoing in-project analysis and beyond to post-project evaluation. It basically gives you the right information, at the right time, in the right format to guarantee you make the right decisions, ensuring optimum levels of success for the project from the outset.

All data in one place

One of the major benefits that a good project management system brings is centralising all your data. Currently, when it comes to gathering information about a particular area of a project, you probably have to work quite hard to find that data, searching through filing cabinets, spreadsheets, and a myriad of niche, departmental systems, for example. This can work out ok for smaller or less complex projects, but the bigger and more complicated the projects get, the sooner this method of information gathering becomes impossible to manage. With a project management system, all project data is stored in one place, meaning you have instant access to easily searchable, up-to-the-minute project information, saying goodbye to multiple spreadsheets, cabinets and bespoke systems, enabling you to make well-informed project decisions.

Increased efficiency

Another benefit of an enterprise project management software solution is the efficiencies it can bring. Rather than asking staff to spend precious time on mundane tasks such as printing and mailing invoices, or manually comparing quotations, or costing out different resource allocations, a robust project management solution will do all this and more, automatically. At the click of a mouse, project management systems can streamline inefficient processes, enabling you to focus on the value-add activities while the system takes care of the crucial but time-consuming administrative side of things. For example, while you plan resources and activities, the right system will automatically calculate the associated costs and revenues, generating project cost estimates and constantly evaluating activities against budget throughout the project, as well as producing ongoing reports to enable the continual monitoring of the status and success of the project.

Flexibility built-in

As with all technology, the best solutions are those that are flexible enough to grow in conjunction with your business, something that’s even more important when it comes to project management systems, in part due to the sheer variety of projects that a business undertakes. Flexibility is key, with the ability for you to define your own reports and analysis a must, as well as, for truly flexible working, the capability to use and update the system remotely, to ensure timely and accurate data. The right system will centralise all data and project-related transactions while giving you the ability to monitor individual tasks, stages and phases of a project, generating reports on various aspects and drilling down into particular areas of the project as and when required.

The right system should reflect how your business operates. For example, the addition of web-based time and travel expense recording is a need-to-have if you’re managing project staff at multiple locations, and the ability of a system to support all types of billing methods, from fixed price, to billing at cost, to down payments, is also vital for ultimate business flexibility. What’s key is that the system works for you, without you having to work for it.

As more professional services businesses are recognising, the processes and procedures that once worked for them in terms of successful project management are no longer up to the larger, more complicated projects of today. Now is the time to invest in the right project management solution, putting the framework in place for not only the successful completion of projects but to lay the solid foundations for future business growth.

What to look for in a project management solution:

  1. Ease-of-use is a must, particularly if you want individuals and departments to fully embrace the system.
  2. Work with an experienced partner, one who knows the right type of solution to suit not only your type of business but your size of business too.
  3. Mobile access is vital, particularly if you want to ensure real time information and reporting functionality.
  4. The right solution will be comprehensive enough to cover all areas of your project, ensuring 360° project visibility and accountability.

For more information on how Sapphire could help you find the right project management solution, contact

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