April 3rd, 2018 by inflectra
Project management software has been around long enough that it’s fairly ubiquitous for businesses of all types. Teams from sales and marketing to manufacturing and software development use project management software to organize the myriad moving parts of business projects. But modern project management software doesn’t stop at tracking projects. Valuable features and reporting built right into today’s PM platforms make it easy for teams to use the software to help them build better processes, save time, and increase profitability across an organization.
Customer change requests and unforeseen project changes can quickly derail projects if they get out of hand. By tracking each of the changes in a project management software, teams can gain valuable insight into how and why projects get behind schedule.
Measure how often the customer changes or re-prioritizes the tasks in a project. Do this with special task tags or by running reports on the number of tasks abandoned during the project. This type of project analysis can also include the number of bugs encountered in the roll-out and time spent fixing those or finding suitable work-arounds, which might indicate an issue in the planning stage of the project.
Ensuring that work gets submitted on time is crucial to a project’s success. Use deadline analysis to understand how often deadlines are reached and to find any patterns that should be addressed either during the project or for future planning.
How long does it take for team members to move a task from one person to another? Handoff metrics are especially important for teams and projects with lots of dependent features and tasks. Closely related to deadline analysis, understanding handoff metrics can help teams learn the following:
Projects require all sorts of resources from software and raw materials to machinery and people. Each of these assets should be tracked across the project. By logging the amount of time and resources each project uses in a project management tool with resource allocation features, you can get a clear picture of how teams use the resources available to them, and where those resources might be better allocated in the future.
Human resource allocation can dig down even deeper into more detailed metrics that can inform where and how employees work best. Do employees perform billable tasks that add value to the project, or are some team members stuck cleaning up non-billable tasks? How can processes and planning decrease resources spent on non-billable tasks and maximize billable processes.
How many team members are working on parallel tasks, and how many are waiting for the handoff? When team members switch between processes, they tend to lose focus and often need time to get back up to speed. This is especially true for manufacturing and software development, where downtime between tasks means employees spend unproductive time recalibrating and restarting cold machines or re-familiarizing themselves with code bases and processes.
While it promises the most efficient use of time for project teams, parallel processing requires significant planning and creative thinking. Managers and employees should communicate and work together to understand which pieces of the project can work at the same time and which must wait on products to be built.
How are your employees using their work hours? Time tracking tools help understand employee productivity and decrease downtime. And you don’t have to go all Big Brother and install a browser snooping device to get this information, either. Most employees willingly track their time on task to better understand their own productivity, as long as they know the data is collected in a supportive environment.
Understanding the team’s overall focus and productivity can show gaps in employee engagement and perhaps lay bare some larger issues for individuals and teams. Use these metrics to start conversations, not as punishment. Perhaps an employee is sitting in too many unnecessary meetings that suck up all their time, or maybe they have a hard time performing detailed tasks before 10am and need a more flexible works schedule.
Combine data from your project management tools with metrics from employee engagement software and your performance or HR management software to get a better understanding of where employees spend their time, and then open up the conversation in a 1:1 meeting.
Each of these metrics should not only be used to understand the efficiency of the current process, but are highly valuable for teams to analyze how they can improve future projects. What’s the point of having processes if you don’t improve and iterate on them? But process iteration often doesn’t happen because teams refuse to set aside time to review their data and learn from their mistakes. Build a culture of process and data communication, and your teams will start working faster and producing more.
Tamara Scott is Research and Content Manager for TechnologyAdvice.com. She writes about the intersection of technology, business, and education in Nashville, TN.