Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

3 Must-Have Capabilities to Accelerate Project Delivery

A year-and-a-half into a project that was originally scheduled to take 12 months, a contractor friend of mine showed no signs of worry that he’d have to dig up a new gig soon. “This one is going way slower than planned,” he explained. “But it’s not unusual for project deadlines to be extended.” 

Indeed it isn’t. According to a P2 Consulting study, 39% of companies report that they fail to deliver projects on time—which is probably one of the biggest reasons 36% of companies fail to deliver projects against their allocated budgets. It may also explain why 44% of companies complain that their projects don’t deliver the expected benefits as set out in the project business case. 

Not surprisingly, many companies are working hard to close the gap between scheduled project completion dates and when they finally get done. When they do—as organizations that have implemented modern project management software have discovered—the benefits are significant. 

For example, John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, holstered millions with the on-time completion of a half-billion-dollar improvement project thanks to enhanced planning, management and controls enabled by a modern enterprise project management solution. 

When the University of Utah piloted its new project management software on the construction of its Huntsman Cancer Institute, the job was completed two months ahead of schedule and came in $9 million under budget. 

Putting the “pedal to the metal” for more reliable on-time (or ahead-of-schedule) project delivery can be tough, especially in large enterprises where stakeholders and team members are spread out all over the world. But when project management offices upgrade their project management software to support the following key capabilities, they can shave the duration of their projects at attention-getting lengths. 

1. Take Advantage of Real-Time Insight

As every project manager knows, it doesn’t take long for a minor issue to become a big problem. That’s why it’s vital that every member of a project team have access to real-time insight into project status. When project teams can identify issues as they emerge, they can mitigate risks just as quickly. 

That holds true for identifying opportunities to accelerate a project. The window to take advantage of an opportunity to save time or money often doesn’t stay open long. By having real-time insight into all details of a project and how they relate to each other, project teams have a better opportunity to wrap up a project faster and under budget. 

Modern tools of the trade feature built-in reporting platforms and configurable dashboards that can deliver specialized analytics targeted to the varying needs of project participants. Real-time transaction data gives team members the information they need to make adjustments that will keep projects on track and on budget. 

2. Maximize Collaboration

Facilitating greater collaboration among team members is key to accelerating projects. Any minute that a team member’s progress is halted waiting for a response or status update from a colleague is one that can push back an important milestone. 

In many cases, we’re talking about saving a lot more than minutes. Back at the University of Utah, its new project management technology has reduced issue resolution time from four to eight weeks down to as little as two hours, said Greg Colf, the business services IT manager in the Facilities Management Office. The average time to respond to submittals and requests was reduced 75%. 

Improving collaboration rests heavily on taking advantage of mobile and social capabilities, especially for large teams with widely distributed colleagues. Continuous collaboration becomes the norm when workers can identify and update tasks, check project status and collaborate just as easily on mobile devices as on desktop systems. 

With improved collaboration capabilities, it’s easier to keep everyone on the same page, even when a project’s direction has changed. If you think about a few team members proceeding with the older plan in mind—even for just a few days—the impact on the project’s cost and schedule can be painful. 

3. Assign the Right People to the Right Task 

Nothing can doom the success of a project faster than misaligning team members’ skills and task requirements. Assigning jobs to staff who don’t have the knowledge to complete them can stall projects and demotivate the entire team. 

When a modern project management solution connects to HR software, workers in any location can update their profiles with their skills and availability, giving project managers a real-time view of the organization’s entire workforce. Project managers can ensure the right people with the right skills are on the right projects—and gain the tools to keep employee engagement from slipping. 

When project teams are appropriately staffed, have real-time insight, and are equipped with the tools to collaborate better, the benefits can be jaw-dropping. At the University of Utah, the accelerated completion of the Huntsman Cancer Institute was no fluke. The average time to finalize all projects at the university has been reduced to 3-6 months, down from 2-3 years in extreme cases. 

At John Wayne Airport, the retrieval of project and budget information for audits within days rather than weeks or months gave project managers more time to focus on proactive analysis and primary responsibilities. The quick and easy access to project information fostered accountability among all team members. Plus, it gave the team the transparency to rapidly address emerging issues. 

There’s an old expression that goes like this: “Fast, good or cheap. Pick two.” Maybe that’s still true for many things. But with modern project management solutions, you can ensure that your projects achieve better results, on time and often under budget. 

For a more in-depth look at the capabilities required to accelerate project delivery, download our white paper, “5 Minutes on Modern Project Management.”

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