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Do you struggle to keep projects within the planned budget and timescales? Is estimating expenses and tracking planned-to-actual resource consumption challenging? Is it difficult for your project managers to view real-time resource availability and optimise utilisation? Does your finance team spend disproportionate amounts of time collating the information they need to raise accurate invoices?

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, it’s time to find a new project management tool. Here are the top features you should look for:

Easier and more efficient project management

Improving project management
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Perhaps some of the biggest challenges you experience are managing a large volume of projects and balancing them with your available resources to ensure said projects are completed on time and within budget. So, you need more than spreadsheets, Gantt charts and manual project management boards to track project activity.

Your chosen project management tool should offer real-time visibility across the board, so it’s easier for your project managers to see what’s going on at any one time. This allows them to proactively decide what needs to be done to keep the project on track.

Resource management

Whether you have several projects going on at once or you often experience fluctuations in workload throughout the year, it can be difficult to efficiently manage your resources. This is particularly the case if you rely on a global resource pool.

The right project management tool will address this need by offering you real-time visibility into your resources. For example, the employees who are available at specific times, their skillsets and billable rate. This will make it easier for you to match people to the right projects, improve productivity and boost the chances of project success.

Dynamics 365 Project Operations, the latest addition to Microsoft’s project management tools, also comes with AI analytics which can help you better anticipate resourcing needs and choose the right employees for the task. Read more about how AI can benefit the professional services industry here.

Simplified project financial management

Billing can become a complex and laborious process, especially if payments are dependent on project milestones, there were ad-hoc transactions or your billable hours and other project expenses are stored on disparate systems.

Modern project management tools can allow your employees to easily log their hours (billable or otherwise) into one system so it’s much easier for your finance team to generate an invoice, customise it when necessary and manage billing queues.

If you have a global team, the right tool will allow you to adhere to various accounting standards and practices too.

Built-in analytics to streamline decision making

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To truly drive business growth and revenue, you need to be able to make the right decisions at the right time. That means you need to access the information you need on demand. The right project management tool should offer you easy access to data, such as:

  • Project performance and progress
  • Planned-to-actual resource consumption
  • Resource availability compared with upcoming projects

And all of the above needs to be accurate to-the-minute so you can make well-informed decisions.

Tools like Dynamics 365 Project Operations not only centralise your key business metrics, but can also present this data in an ever-digestible format. Customisable dashboards, Gantt charts - however you like to consume your data, the system will deliver it for you so you can make timely, agile responses.

Improved client management

We all know it costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. For those in the professional services space, your project management tool should be capable of bringing all your key project-related data/information into one place.

Customer data, contracts, vendor information, service partners, project progress, resource availability - when all of these are available in one place, you can:

  • View real-time breakdowns of what work is being done during specific timeframes which you can communicate to customers
  • Up-to-date project metrics (e.g. billing, planned-to-actual resource and expense consumption) so you leverage the right insights to ensure maximum project profitability

This means you can ensure more transparent project delivery.

Cross-team collaboration

This is a feature we’ve mentioned throughout but that only highlights its importance. Your project management tool should be able to consolidate your key data in one place. Not only will this make it easier for you to find what you need when you need it, but it will also promote cross-team and departmental collaboration.

From your project managers to sales and customer service representatives, any relevant data can be stored and shared in one place. Now everyone can be equipped with the right tools to deliver an excellent customer experience.

Mobile capabilities

Microsoft project management tools

Your employees may need to visit customers, attend off-site meetings and more. So, they should be able to view the project-related information, log time, submit expenses and more while on-the-go.

Dynamics 365 Project Operations, for instance, is also accessible via a mobile app or browser so your field-based workers can remain productive even when out of the office.

Possibilities for seamless system integrations

Your project management tool shouldn’t be a standalone piece of software. To maximise productivity and your investment, look for a tool that can seamlessly integrate with your existing business systems.

For example, a CRM integration can help facilitate the sales to delivery team handoff and give your project team insight into future opportunities and their resource requirements so they can prepare. An ERP integration can further streamline the invoicing and payment process.

So, when you’re choosing a project management tool, don’t just examine its functionalities and match them to your needs. Also, examine your existing business systems and see how these systems and your prospective project management tool can ‘talk’ to each other.

 

You need a system that can connect your project-centric business, end-to-end

From legal and financial services to HR and recruitment, whatever sector your professional services firm falls under, you need a project management tool that can offer a single source of data truth, empower you to make well-informed decisions on the spot and help you deliver an exceptional customer experience.

Dynamics 365 Project Operations is the latest addition to Microsoft’s portfolio of project management tools. Want to discover how D365 Project Operations can benefit your project-based organisation? Click the button below to read our solution factsheet.

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