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BAASS Insights Technology Blog


Managing Projects Successfully
by: BAASS Editor | September 24, 2015

A significant attribute of leading consulting firms is the ability to execute projects successfully on a consistent basis. Project success translates to high client retention rates and the ability to attract new customers – ensuring business continuity and expansion.

To achieve project success, a mix of activities, human capital, and processes must be organized and well-managed. This effort includes planning and executing assignments, and monitoring performance. In this article we’ll examine some key project management responsibilities to help identify opportunities for improvement in your firm.

Organizing & Planning

Planning a project is the starting point for being organized and ultimately executing project activities effectively. The chief objective is to develop a road map and reference points (milestones) for the project team that will result in the work being done on-time and on-budget.

Effective plans are excellent communication tools – easily understood and not unnecessarily detailed. Plans must be broken into manageable pieces using lower level groupings like phases. In some cases aligning another level of activity (tasks) to phases is helpful. This type of plan structure, that facilitates delegation and analysis of work at high and low levels, is an important industry best practice.

The planning process should begin once the pursuit of an opportunity for future business is approved. Planning systems must be able to support plans for potential and current business. It should also be possible to maintain multiple versions of plans so that they can be updated with new information, and “what if” scenarios can be created easily. By applying realistic probabilities of winning future work, organizations can do a more accurate job of forecasting revenue and staffing requirements.

Monitoring & Control

In the absence of a good planning process the probability of project success diminishes. How can we determine if we are “on course” or “off course” (and need to take corrective action) without an accurate plan in place and the calculation of estimates to complete? This is especially true for more complex or lengthy projects.

Deficient monitoring and control mechanisms inevitably lead to serious problems including poor decision-making, client dissatisfaction, and profit margin erosion. The essence of an effective control system is the capability to compare actual results to planned results on a regular basis, quickly and easily – and to alert executives to significant issues while providing sufficient time to implement corrective action.

Conclusion

It is interesting to note that owners and executives in the professional services industry generally appreciate the need for accounting controls, and timely feedback on results – and invest significantly in the controllership function and external accounting assistance. However, project control systems and resources, important as they are, do not seem to receive the same attention or priority.  Therefore, evaluating the ingredients of project success and current approaches (including project manager training and education programs), merits serious consideration. This exercise will likely identify opportunities to reach a higher level of performance and profitability in your firm!

To learn more about managing projects successfully, contact us or register the upcoming half day event hosted by Deltek and the AMR Group, Do More with Vision Session on October 15th at the Novotel Toronto North York.


About the Author
Barry Goman, CMC, Managing Director with AMR Group Limited.

BAASS and AMR have joined forces in a strategic alliance to create one of the largest and most experienced professional services advisory groups dedicated to serving the needs of project-based  organizations in Canada using Deltek Vision. AMR’s mission is to help professional services organizations improve profitability by identifying and resolving problems with software systems, business processes, and staff training. www.amrgroup.ca


 

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