Project Management Tools

With the knowledge, experience and tools available to all in this modern age, I was shocked to find out that my company does not use any sort of sophisticated tool to track the progress of a project. The amount of time each portion of the project requires is determined based on estimations for each one of the groups. We usually provide our clients with soft implementation dates, but we never actually complete out projects by those dates and usually go over our hard implementation dates.  In my experience as a participating member of the team I think it can be improved with a couple additions.

First, I think using estimates that are provided from each group is a poor source of information. My suggestion is to use data from previous projects that were similar in nature, scope and complexity. Using data from those previous projects as an index for new projects should help a project manager better gauge a correct time frame for the completion of certain portions of the project.

I think having a sophisticated tool will help our project manager manage the constant challenges that arise with keeping track of progress for these projects. Currently our project managers reach out to each team who are working in different areas to get updates which are stored on a spreadsheet. That time spent chasing groups for updated can hold up the start of the next component of the project.

The Spreadsheet that the project manager completes is distributed to the group on a weekly basis. To improve in this area some of these tools can be updated by the group working on each area and be available to everyone working on the project at any time. Having a live view of the current status of the project can me valuable for the people participating in the project as well as the client.

Some of these tools will also help a project manager analyze any short coming of the project or areas that need to be addressed. For instance one team that is constantly not meeting deadlines could just be providing inaccurate estimates. These types of tools and analysis can help eliminate exceeding deadlines. I have not done the research but I’m sure there is a cost to either the client or to our group for exceeding the hard deadline. Being able to see that a project will not meet the deadline earlier on will be more cost efficient opposed catching it later on. There is also a reputational risk our company face when we don’t meet those deadlines, as it appears that

3 thoughts on “Project Management Tools

  1. My company recently surprised me as well. I asked if I could have Microsoft Project, but apparently my office does not license it. I was told that there isn’t really anything in Project that I can’t do in Excel and so we don’t support it. It is frustrating to try to figure out new ways to manage my projects, and my team, but to not have a lot of resources available to do that.
    We will have to be creative in coming up with new ideas for project management.

  2. Ah, the proverbial tracker. Spreadsheets have their place in project management, but they are certainly not a replacement for a good tool. Anybody that says excel can replace MS Project has obviously not used the software to its full extent.

    That being said, I had an interview earlier this year with an engineer from Boeing. He said something pretty profound that will probably always stay with me. He said the one constant in every organization he has ever worked for, is the fact that Project Management Offices are always transitioning to a new tool.

    My employer is currently transitioning to new software. We are in beta version 5 right now. All I can say is…be careful what you ask for!

  3. Larry, on your point about using estimates from the group, I strongly agree that this is a terrible idea. Working in accounting, we use all sorts of allocations for budgeting and throughout the year. These allocations are used to move shared expenses between legal entities, between divisions, or between departments. Because these estimates are so subjective and often driven by what you have been working on that day or week or month, it leads to bad information reporting and, therefore, bad business decisions. Now, it is somewhat barable in an internal company, but I cannot imagine providing a customer with an estimate based on opinion. I think you’re spot on by using previous data. Sometimes people hesitate to use historical data out of fear that it is not dynamic enough, but it is often reasonable for a general estimate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *