Thursday Dec 27, 2012

Three Keys to Project Management: What can organizations with world-class project management teach the rest of us?

By: Susan Poser

Executives go through various processes to determine which projects to fund internally and which opportunities to engage in externally. For instance, a high-technology company may develop a new product or build a new facility internally, and may provide installation services externally. Once these decisions are made, managing the execution by tracking the schedule, costs, resources, and milestones is critical to ensure project success. Many managers have the additional complexity of overseeing a supply chain to ensure that equipment, material, and resources are available on time at the point of need and use. The question is, how can they integrate their portfolio and project management processes in order to manage projects profitably—and ensure business value?

Managing visibility in three important areas of your portfolio and project management processes will help ensure success:

1. Project/portfolio prioritization
Are you working on the most-profitable projects? Leaders of best-in-class companies can prioritize projects based on a set of predefined criteria—such as revenue, return on investment, importance to future strategic needs, alignment to core business, and risks. For external projects, that may mean ranking each by priority to help determine the proper pricing schedule for the work. For internal projects, priority ranking can determine whether it makes sense to fund the project and the appropriate resources to commit to the work. Comprehensive portfolio management tools can help prioritize and align the project portfolio to ensure that limited resources are deployed for maximum impact.

2. Project execution
How well can you track project progress, resource utilization, and project milestone success? Executives at world-class companies have full visibility into the supply of parts, equipment, and labor. If there is a disruption in the supply chain that affects the delivery of parts or equipment, they can simulate alternative plans, understand the impact, and prioritize their options within hours. The improved visibility enables smart managers to make quick decisions on how to allocate limited parts to the right projects in the portfolio, minimizing cost and maximizing revenue.

Customer satisfaction is a key differentiator, so the ability to execute with more precision can translate to a happy customer and repeat business.

3. Project closeout
How quickly is your billing department notified when work is completed so revenue can be booked? With the proliferation of mobile and tablet technology, staff at cutting-edge companies can leverage mobile technology to capture accurate project-completion or parts-delivered data in real time. That data can then be automatically transmitted throughout the enterprise—keeping critical enterprise data off error-prone, paper-based processes that can take much longer to resolve. Real-time, mobile data transfer and automation will not only increase the accuracy of revenue recognition but will also support better coordination of resources, cost reduction, and more-efficient access to working capital. Customer satisfaction is a key differentiator, so the ability to execute with more precision can translate to a happy customer and repeat business.

With portfolio and project management increasing in complexity and contributing more to revenue, business leaders should consider approaches to automate processes, integrate portfolio and project management, and employ best-practice processes. The impact will not only create a more comprehensive and integrated view of projects; it will also provide complete visibility and improved profitability.

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