Most project managers follow a four-step project lifecycle to move a project from inception to completion. Not only is this process the lifeblood of a project manager; it is also the lifeblood of a services company. After all, it is only through the repeated completion of successful projects that revenue is generated.
While the progression of a project naturally follows this lifecycle, most savvy project managers have intentional processes at each step of the lifecycle to drive production forward and improve outcomes.
The use of project management software helps to set and support these processes, streamlining the efficiency of a project, improving tracking, ensuring project specifications are consistently met, and empowering the project manager with reports and data to improve the performance of their team.
How Project Management Software Improves the Project Lifecycle
Project management software is an essential tool for project managers seeking to improve their projects. Not only does project management software help to track the progress of a project, it also provides critical data to improve job costing, resource management, and output quality.
Phase 1: Conceptualization
The first stage of the project lifecycle, “conceptualization,” requires having an understanding of the project and what it will take to complete it. This means understanding not only the project specifications and budget, but also what resources are needed to complete them and what the projected timeline looks like.
A project management tool takes the guesswork out of drafting proposals in the conceptualization stage of the project lifecycle, helping to inform the data needed to make accurate estimates. Project managers can use project management tools to see which resources are available (and their costs) and use historical information to see how long resources will need to complete a particular project. It also helps project managers see what budgets were needed to complete similar projects and whether any adjustments need to be made in the current proposal to ensure profitability.
Phase 2: Planning
After the project has been given the green light, the project enters the “planning” stage of the project lifecycle. This means it’s time for the project manager to determine which resources will be used to complete the project.
Project management software helps project managers view the availability of existing resources and their current workloads to be able to determine which resources to use to complete the new project. Instead of blindly assigning tasks, project management software will help project managers create more realistic timelines and task completion dates based on a resource’s current projects and availability. It also helps the project manager ensure that resource allocation stays within the project budget.
Phase 3: Execution
Perhaps the most important part of the project lifecycle, execution is the stage where the actual work is performed. This, too, is the stage that can be most supported by great project management software.
According to Capterra research, one in three people say that inadequate or poor communication was the biggest challengethey experienced while working on or leading projects. Other key challenges included Inaccurate task time estimates and poor workflow management. Project management software already has a reputation for being a great way to track which tasks are being completed and by whom, but project management software can also help support this stage of the project lifecycle by:
- Ensuring a project is staying on-budget through the duration of the project.
- Seeing, at a glance, which resources are performing well and which may need extra support.
- Tracking upcoming milestones and whether they’re going to be met or if adjustments need to be made.
- If there is a major roadblock or challenge, how can that challenge be resolved as quickly and realistically as possible?
- Managing all documents, correspondence, versions, and client approval in a single platform to streamline project completion.
Phase 4: Completion
Once the project is completed, most project managers will perform the “termination” stage of the project lifecycle. This is where the project manager closes the project, collects data, and uses project outcomes to improve future performance.
This is another opportunity for the right project management software to support the project lifecycle. Project management software typically has strong reporting functionality. This helps to improve data collection and reporting about the performance of the project.
Project managers will be able to quickly ask:
- Was the project completed on time and on budget? If not, at what point did time or budget start to deviate from projections? How does this compare to previous projects?
- Which resources were effective during the completion of this project? Were there any whose performance could be improved? Do any changes need to be made in the future?
- Are there any adjustments that should be made to budgeting or bidding for future projects to improve project outcomes and profitability?
The right project management software is built to satisfy all stages of the project lifecycle, but not all solutions are created equally. For instance, service companies have inherent business challenges that make the project lifecycle more complicated. In addition, some companies are so large and so complex that they have needs more complicated than what a basic project management software can accommodate.
When looking for a project management software to fulfill your company’s project lifecycle, it’s important to look for one that works with the unique processes that support your company’s specific project delivery needs.
Are you ready to start delivering projects more predictably and profitably? See why modern professional organizations choose Mavenlink as their project management tool.