How to set up goals using project management software

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Project Management Software as Goal Setting Software

The concept of scientific management for business operations was put forward by the scholarly professionals of the early 1900s. They developed a system of breaking down tasks into smaller scopes, in a way that enabled workers to focus their skills on producing a specific output within a definite timeframe. This concept later evolved into a form of discipline known today as project management.

The primary goals of the discipline are geared toward the production and delivery of a particular product and/or service at a designated time, in ways that meet the requirements and approval of customers and other stakeholders to the business. Moreover, such goals are achieved without going over the budgeted costs, thereby maximizing the profitability of business ventures. In today’s computerized environment and global business trend, companies can easily adopt the applicable scientific methods in their workplace settings, by employing project management software.

Even the owner of a start-up business enterprise should consider the benefits of using a programmable system, to attain the ultimate business objective of earning financial profits. Using one enables the business owner or manager to harness the resources available to him, within the span of a limited timeframe. The features include tools that allow the monitoring of work activities, particularly in an environment where team work is a vital component in achieving the goals of the business.

The Main Features

A computerized file management system enables a project manager to gather and collect data in a single location. The file data will be processed and analyzed by different built-in tools integrated in the software, and will allow a manager and his team to:

  • Determine Time Estimates – A work breakdown structure provides a useful medium for decomposing the project into smaller tasks. This is quite important, because the total project costs will be approximated based on the scope of each job, instead of calculating estimates with a broad view of the project in mind. The initial goal is to identify the various tasks to be performed, in order to meet the specifications and needs of different stakeholders.
    Once the tasks have been enumerated and documented, time estimates will be established by taking into consideration the planning and execution processes involved, the implementation of quality checks and the degree of skills to be utilized.

  • Create Schedules and Assign Tasks – The next step is to effectively assign the tasks and set the specific deadlines on which each task should be completed. A good application is one that shows priorities in terms of completion, in order to keep the team members well aware of the task dependencies. A reference to dependencies denotes a status in which a task has to wait for the others to finish, before it can commence or attain completion. Nevertheless, automated e-mail notifications and alerts can be sent to team members to keep them on track.
  • Estimate the Costs – There are dynamic software packages that generate three-point estimates, in which the approximate costs for the most likely scenario will be compared to the best and the worst-case situations. The most recommended value is the weighted-average of the three estimated costs calculated for each case, as this creates a better leverage in keeping the project costs within the limits.
    Cost estimation tools may include additional forecasting techniques, in which the users can make subsequent adjustments in their budget estimates. As some projects are easily affected by the volatility of prices, they undergo changes in project plans that require budget modifications before the actual price inflation takes place.

  • Collaborate and Share the Plans – Software equipped with collaborative tools, permits the project manager to gather input, feedback and concerns that can impact the accuracy and reliability of the plan being developed; but without the need to take the group members away from their work stations. He can simply post, access and share files and at the same time inform or remotely discuss issues among team members or employees, via interactive forums or chat rooms.
  • Monitor and Control Work Progress- To allow better tracking of a project’s development and status, project management software provides charts that illustrate how the undertaking is currently making progress. Here, there are tools for creating bar charts that can present side by side comparisons of actual time and cost data against the estimated and baseline figures. The charts give the user points of references for determining, in terms of percentages, the amount of work done and those that are yet to done in the remaining time allotment.
  • Track Actual Time Spent – This tool permits the monitoring of the time used by team members or employees in performing a specific task assignment. Hence, managers can easily determine the productive hours spent in a particular work activity, by way of reports that show time log entries and descriptions of the tasks performed by every member or employee. The significance of this tracking feature is not only for ascertaining productivity but also for distinguishing the manpower costs that can be directly billed as project expenses, from those that are not. The reports generated can even be exported to other software applications being used for preparing billing statements and invoices.
  • Measure the Health of the Project – There are programs that incorporate the use of a balanced scorecard, which compares the business’ key performance indicators (KPI) against the industry’s benchmark metrics. The relevance of the information provided by progress reports can be summarized and analyzed to evaluate the health of the project while still underway. This particular feature, will give managers a heads-up about the present state of the venture; thus allowing them to gauge its potentials for meeting the set of goals and expectations.
    The KPIs may be related to the income being generated, the expenses being incurred, the increase in volume of collections, the percentage of completion, the rate of employee retention or turnover, the overall positive response to campaigns, and such other factors that reflect and define the goals which the project aims to achieve. Inasmuch as there are several KPIs to consider, these will be presented in the balanced scorecard into four perspectives: (1) the financial aspect, (2) customer or stakeholder satisfaction, (3) ability to carry out internal processes, and (4) the potential growth or values created by the project for the business.

Limitations of a Programmed System

Goal setting is also a matter of giving careful thought to what is realistic and achievable within the allotted timeframe. The project management software is merely a tool for calculating what is measurable and for analyzing the data stored and compiled in the system. Inasmuch as the tools and applications of the program rely on documented and accurate information, managers and business owners should constantly pay attention to undocumented requirements and proper implementation of changes and modifications.

The plans and projections developed through the use of a programmed system only serve as guides to keep the project on the right track. This does not mean, however, that these guides present the best solutions in any given situation, because the data stored may require modifications and updates in order to be relevant with the existing conditions. Moreover, others tend to rely on pre-programmed alerts and notices, before acting on a particular task. Over-reliance on automated features tends to overshadow the relationships between each task, in which dependencies can result to slack or extensions.

Nevertheless, a well-developed project plan has helped many companies survive and overcome the negative effects of economic downturns. More so, if the project management software enables the managers to maintain reliable costs and timeframe estimates that can be constantly viewed, reviewed and modified, without the need to go through the usual organizational processes.