project management tool for small and medium businesses

Project management though age old phenomena, has become high-responsibility activity in today’s business environment. We can see project management being used in almost every types of projects as simple as event planning, to multi-year project of complex development of spaceship. The interesting thing is, project management has no longer remained a characteristic of large enterprises. Small and medium businesses (SMB) have embraced project management for their regular business and they have embraced it well.
In order to plan and execute projects, SMBs have either groomed inhouse staff members or recruited project management professionals.And to make it easier for everyone follow project management process, SMBs have started using project management tool. Project management tool is designed to help organize project work, improve productivity, enhance collaboration and provide management with real project picture. Using project management tool across the board ensure that work-process is standardized and it makes things easier for project manager.
Let’s look at the crucial project management capabilities in Project management tool that help project managers in all domains:

Project Plan
As a project manager, one need to make sure, project is planned well in advance to avoid last minute rush or haphazard execution. Project planning is a lot more than just scheduling. It involves project scope, schedule, resources, cost, risks, communication plan and much more. Thus project manager needs to detail out project scope into delivery timeline, milestones/work breakdown structure, cost implication, required resources.
As we know, project sponsor and typically customer are mainly concerned about delivery timeline and cost of delivery.

Simple way for a project sponsor to understand the project timeline is project milestone. Typically higher management or customers are not interested in minute details of the project delivery schedule. They would like to know when important milestones will be achieved. During project execution, looking at milestone list, management can also track whether we are on track to deliver project on time or not.

Gantt Chart
Gantt chart presents the project delivery timeline in visual form and also depicts interdependencies among project activities. Gantt chart was first recognized in 1917, when it was introduced by Henry Gantt and since then it became hugely popular across industries.

As noted earlier, using project management software one can easily check project delivery schedule in visual form like Gantt chart. The process of creating Gantt chart is much simpler using project management tool. One can simply setup project phases in the tool and breakdown the phase in smaller activities by providing timeline for each activity and set up dependencies among project tasks. The advantage of setting up interdependency among tasks is, changes in project timeline gets automatically adjusted (postpone/prepone) for dependent tasks. Microsoft Project has been quite popular tool for Gantt chart purpose however online project management tools available these days are much simpler to use.
Project Cost, Expenses
As resources as assigned to task, project manager can also see expected cost to complete project and deliver it. Project management tool gives easier way to set project budget, estimate project cost in advance and track ongoing cost.
Project team can keep entering time for project activities and it can submit expenses incurred in project management software. Project management tool calculates and shows actual cost of executing project at given point in time and can also help project managers see projected cost of completion based on current actual cost.

Resource Utilization
Utilizing limited resource is one critical consideration for SMBs, who have limited resources in hand. Project management tool can show resources capacity, available resources compared to required resources.Project management software like ZilicusPM enables project managers to plan and assign resources even on task level, day wise effort. Project manager can ensure resources are optimally utilized.

Project Issues
Though not all SMBs would track project issues but project issues is a reality that any project face. Project issue is any problem that project would come across during project execution. Now depending on type of the issue, it may block the project progress or it can be trivial enough to accept and move on. But as project team keeps logging in project issues, one can track how much time are we spending in managing project issues, how far project issues are impacting project delivery schedule and in turn project cost. Project management systems can make it simpler for project teams to highlight and track project issues at one place.

Tracking Project Progress
The real benefit of any project management system (PMS) is being able to plan and track project progress using at one common platform. A central platform that can help project managers to take decision. Project management tools can show real status of the project in terms of schedule (lagging/ahead of schedule), cost (over/under budget), resources (over/under utilized); basically are we on track or not.
Unless there is a way to review project progress, one cannot assess whether we are on right path or not, whether we will be able to achieve our target or not. And if we are not on target, how far are we missing it and what will it take to get back on track. Project management tool helps project management in doing such review.

In today’s fast paced world, project manager cannot plan and execute without a right set of project management and project collaboration tools. These tools need not be enterprise/complex or advance software, but it should be simple to use and should provide proven methodology to manage project work. The right tool will take away lot of stress/repetitive work from project manager and help entire team to be more productive.

Publisher: dhan wagholikar

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