Clients often ask “why do you use a project management system?”.Often it’s because they don’t like using something they’ve never used before, they’re wary of it, or they’re not good with change. Sometimes it’s just plain curiosity. Whatever their reason, my reply will usually be something like, “It helps us to manage your project more effectively and ensure it runs as smoothly as possible”. This usually does the trick as all they really want is their project to go well. However, some clients want to know more and might ask “How?”. This is when we need to be able to explain the benefits of using a Project Management system, not only the benefits for us but for them too.
Because our clients are investing in us and our processes, they deserve to understand not only where their money and time is going, but also how we are going to manage it. We’re always happy to take the time to explain and in turn get them on board, after all it’s in the best interests of the project.
So then, let’s answer the question, why do we use a project management system?
- It offers a comprehensive set of tools and functions for all aspects of Project Management that emails and spreadsheets just can’t deal with. These can also be easily added to, or removed. The more flexible and configurable the system the better.
- The client-facing parts of the system are simple and intuitive and it’s easy to show clients how to use.
- Because it’s a web-based project management application it can be accessed from any computer or mobile device without installing software. The system we use, ActivCollab, is available as an app too.
- As it’s web-based it can be automatically updated and maintained by the service provider.
- Anyone can use it. Employees and clients at different levels can easily input into the project process.
- We can detail, monitor and deal with the uncertainties of each task on a project.
- Tasks can be easily arranged to meet deadlines and milestones. Every part of the project can be broken down and spilt out into more manageable bite-sized chunks whilst the overall picture is still easily viewed.
- There is a clear division between projects so we can juggle multiple projects simultaneously.
- Everything can be easily documented, detailed and logically-stored – every phone conversation, every email, every internal decision, every document and every resource, thus giving us a clear ‘paper trail’ should we need to refer to it at a later date.
- Tasks and milestones which are dependent on one another are visible, how they depend on each other is visible, and what happens if things change or go wrong can be prepared for.
- Communications are stored in easy to find discussions with clear and sensible titles. Managing written communications in this way allows us to access information quickly and respond effectively.
- Tasks are allocated to individual project team members along with task durations. This allows us to see exactly what tasks and what projects each team member is working on at any given time and schedule their time accordingly. This helps avoid diary clashes and enables us to give more accurate delivery times to our clients.
- We are able to manage budgets closely by allocating time to team members and tasks.
- It’s easy for clients and team members to collaborate with each other.
- We use our Project Management tool to run full and thorough quality assurance stages at key milestones of the project process. This ensures all team members test and review each other’s work before the client sees it.
- For a project manager the insight and tools available behind the scenes are invaluable for internal and client reporting.
- All good project management systems give a bigger picture and have the ability to drill down to a micro level too, both of which are crucial tools for any Project Manager.
- It’s not only useful in spotting project issues early, but also in helping to deal with them in a measured way.
We find our Project Management tool invaluable and it is as integral to our process as it is to the success of any project. For anyone who doesn’t use one and is thinking of starting it’s important to remember that any software should support and automate good practice, not replace it. There is no substitute for human interaction and human involvement in any project.