Most projects fail to meet cost, schedule, and quality requirements. Fortunately, there are ways to improve project performance if project teams identify the specific ingredients for a successful project.

Maximizing project returns– a project management imperative

Project managers are always looking for new ways to improve their projects. For example, you might ask yourself, “How do I measure progress on this project?” or “Are we getting closer to completion?” No one answer will work in all situations but improving project performance can be as simple as asking the right questions!

The forces at play in any given situation are cost, time, and quality. These three constraints that bind a project are the key to understanding how projects perform. The success of a project depends on managing it without any overruns outside the confines of this iron triangle.

To ensure maximum project returns, it’s important to identify the critical elements of a manager’s toolkit. These include:

  • Timeliness of major milestones
  • Optimal use of resources
  • Having a well-defined project scope
  • No budget leaks or cost over-runs
  • Proactive and efficient management of issues and risks
  • Timely realization of revenues and invoicing
  • Effective communication of project progress and status to all stakeholders

Now that we have identified the ingredients for a successful project, let us look at both its planning and execution to understand where these elements fit in to achieve optimum business value.

Critical components of successful project planning

The first step to a successful project is translating the scope into a robust plan. A good plan will include all the necessary tasks, interdependencies, milestones, and constraints to establish the critical path.

Once you identify the tasks, the next step is to assign them to appropriate resources based on their skill set, competence level, and experience. This requires careful planning with an eye toward utilization levels and the overall project budget limitations. However, breaking down the project scope into granular chunks and allocating resources is only half the battle. A crucial element towards the success of a project is effective risk management with comprehensive mitigation strategies, as it helps you avoid costly mistakes.

Finally, all the stakeholders should be aware of their commitments to the client in terms of scope, timeline, and costs. They should also have access to the overall project performance metrics to gauge their work and take corrective actions when necessary.

Factors that ensure the effective execution of a project

Efficient implementation of a project depends on the project manager’s ability to monitor factors like:

  • Tracking progress and completion status of deliverables to ensure that the project schedule is on track
  • Ensuring that the deliverables meet quality guidelines
  • Maintaining cost control to safeguard profitability
  • Capturing actual efforts and costs
  • Analyzing cash flow and generating timely invoices
  • Managing risks and delays effectively

A Professional Services Automation spin to project management

Let’s admit it. Expert project planning and vigilant monitoring of progress requires significant effort, which when done manually can be time-consuming, error-prone, and inefficient. Herein comes the power of Professional Services Automation (PSA) software. Replacing human inefficiencies with the automated capabilities of PSA software can ensure efficient and accurate assessment of the project’s progress. Advanced data integrity and real-time analytics is another important benefit that drives strategic decision-making. PSA software can manage all the tasks required for robust project planning, monitor all the elements that need control during the execution phase, and deliver real business value.

In today’s hyper-competitive business landscape, the key to ensuring consistent client satisfaction is predictability. PSA software enables consistent project management practices that result in efficient process outcomes to generate business value and ensure client satisfaction.

To know more about how Professional Services Automation can transform your project management practices and ensure more predictable and profitable business operations, read our ebook: Five pillars of a predictable, profitable, and progressive professional services firm.