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What is project management?

Essentially, project management is the process of overseeing the delivery of work with a deadline.

Practicing good project management is crucial for professional services organizations. These companies typically work on multiple projects at a time for multiple clients.

For these businesses, a streamlined and effective project management process is critical for delivering first-rate work and protecting profit margin.

In this article, we’ll discuss a few important aspects of project management for professional services companies, along with some common project management challenges, and show you how professional services automation (PSA) software can help.

The sales to service handoff

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For most professional services companies, project management begins just after the client signs the statement of work (SOW).

Step one is usually looking carefully at what was promised, and mapping project milestones to a schedule.

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Gantt charts are one popular tool for visualizing project schedules.

But in organizations where sales and project management are handled by different teams, this process often creates a lot of friction.

In order to optimize deal to cash flow, it’s actually best to start planning the project during the sales process, not after.

Project planning during sales helps decrease scope creep and improve forecasting ability, leading to higher margins, more accurate timelines, and sometimes even higher quality work.

How can you start managing a project before the deal is closed? Here are 5 tips:

  1. Promote open communication between sales and project teams
  2. Create a clear outline of what sales should provide to project management
  3. Ensure that customers know exactly what happens post-sale
  4. Introduce someone from the project team at the last sales meeting
  5. Use project management software that integrates with your sales platform

Watch our presentation on perfecting the sales to project management cycle:

Project management resource planning

Who is doing what, what do they need, and when will they be done? Resource planning is how project managers answer these questions.

Proactive resource planning in project management helps teams meet their deadlines and prevents mistakes that might cost you margin.

For professional services organizations, the most important resource is usually people. More specifically, it’s people’s time — does your team have enough hours in the day to get their work done?

If you’re used to just winging it when it comes to project management, here are some tips to get started with effective resource planning:

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Begin with spreadsheets, especially if you’re new to resource planning. While ultimately the cons of spreadsheets outweigh the pros, they can be the starting point of your resource planning journey.

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As you grow, scale with smart project management tools that automate workflows and provide clear visibility into your resources.

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Reallocate and redistribute tasks and responsibilities on your team as you learn more about each individual’s strengths and needs.

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Forecast resource availability based on upcoming work to inform decisions about staffing and timelines.

Some project management tools also offer resource and utilization dashboards that enable you to see at a glance whether your team is overloaded or whether they can take on more work.

 

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An example of a resource planning dashboard in PSOhub

Task management

Tasks are the most basic unit of project management, and most project management tools offer task management features.

For managers, using software tools to assign tasks to team members comes with several benefits, mainly:

  1. Team members have a running to-do list of all the work that’s expected of them
  2. Team members can track their time against specific tasks
  3. Task data can be used to determine whether a project is on schedule

Most project management solutions allow managers to manually set up tasks, assign them to team members, set due dates, adjust priority, and track time.

For professional services organizations that do many of the same kinds of projects, task management automation features can cut down the hours spent on task management — PSOhub, for example, allows managers to set up tasks via templates or automatically generate tasks based on the project’s contract.

Project time and expense tracking

Accurately tracking time and expenses is how most professional services organizations get paid. Even if you don’t bill by the hour, tracking time is critical to understanding the margin you’re making on fixed-price contracts.

Many professional services organizations track time and expenses after the fact, when it comes time to bill for their services. But time and expense tracking software allows managers to track time and project expenses in real-time, helping them maintain an awareness of project health and head off problems before they eat away at margin.

There are tons of time tracking tools on the market, but the best will use automation to save employees time and alert project managers about anything going off-track.

Read our guide to selecting the best time tracking tools for your business:

Project management reporting

You might not realize it, but project management produces a lot of data.

How much time has been spent on different parts of the project? How close are you to the original budget? Who on your team has been working most efficiently? Least efficiently?

Project management reports help you answer these questions. Good reports can be used to improve operations, close the loop with sales, and gain buy-in from key stakeholders.

PSOHUB_ProjectManagement_pillar_budgetThis PSOhub dashboard shows budgeted resources vs. actual resources.

 

Project management tools like PSOhub use robust reporting to provide the insights you need to optimize your business. Alerts and intuitive dashboards mean projects can stay on track — even if you only have a minute to check in — and the data your team needs is always just a click away.

Project management reporting can also help you measure a project’s success after it’s completed. Examine what went smoothly and what snagged on a project, then decide how to improve next time.

Why use PSA software for project management?

There are many benefits to using professional services automation (PSA) software that integrates with your CRM and project management workflows.

Unlike point solutions, PSA software allows you to manage contracts, tasks, time, expenses, billing, and reporting all from one place, keeping information accurate across platforms.

Here are just a few things PSA software can do for your business:

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Streamline the handoff from sales to project management

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Give you a head start on resource planning and automatically track project progress

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Alert you to projects going over time or budget

Even if you use separate project management tools that are specific to your industry or have advanced functionality, using PSA software in conjunction can help improve overall operational effectiveness and cross-team collaboration.

When you employ an effective project management solution, you can get more stakeholder buy-in on your projects, provide clients with top-notch deliverables, protect your profit margin, and become a professional services powerhouse.

About PSOHub

PSOhub is a comprehensive professional services automation (PSA) platform that’s built to integrate with your tech stack and streamline how you manage projects and conduct business.

PSOhub can help your business with all the aspects of project management we’ve discussed in this article.

Features of our PSA software include:

  • Automated project setup: When you close a deal in HubSpot, it takes just one click to create the handoff from sales to project management.
  • Project planning: Plan resources like a pro with our comprehensive tools that help you set and prioritize goals, define deliverables, and create a project schedule Gantt chart.
  • Project status tracking: Get a clear overview of all your projects to measure progress.
  • Project management alerts: Set alerts for events like hitting project milestones or going over time or budget.
  • Dashboards and reporting: Learn from your successful (and not so successful) projects, and plan for the future.

Experience a new kind of project management with PSOhub, and optimize your business like never before.

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