Project Cost Management – The Optimal Way
Project Cost Management Challenges
As a project manager and stakeholder in your project success, you know how important it is to have control over all aspects of your project management. This include identifying and defining the right milestones, estimating resources needed and define roles and responsibilities, and then also making sure that project cost management is in place. That is, making sure that the project does not go over budget, and that you only use the resources dedicated to the project.
The tools you need to go about this in a professional and structured way may vary, but one extremely important element that you cannot work without, when managing projects is an efficient way to get an overview of project time. That is, being able to see how much time you’ve spent on each project and activity. There is simply no way around this, and it’s the cornerstone of knowing your costs on the projects.
No matter the milestone or deliverable for the project, and no matter if it is a client project or an internal project, to have proper project cost management and to ensure the project success, you need to have proper time tracking in place.
The challenge then is to find a solution where your users are happy using it, it is user-friendly and that it provides you with the data you need to support your project management processes.
Any project management professional will tell you that finding and using the right time reporting solution is paramount when doing project cost management, as well as resource management.
No matter your profession or your team members, the time tracking must be easy to use for your project team and support the way that you organize your activities and work processes.
The solution you find should be easy to get started with and not require any significant training on the part of your users.
So where to look?
Most professional companies and organizations use the Microsoft Outlook calendar for scheduling and managing their time and appointments, so you should find a time tracking solution that builds on that and will integrate with your Outlook calendar. In this way you can use your Outlook calendar appointments as the basis for your time tracking, which will make life easier for everybody and at the same time ensure that time reporting is actually done and furthermore that it is also accurate.
The solution should also come with build-in reporting capabilities, so that you can easily get an overview of your project status and see how many hours have been spent on each organization, project and activity, and if any corrective action is needed.
If you have the need, it should also be possible to import and export data to and from the system, so that you can work with data in other systems as well, for example your ERP or financial system, or simply Excel.
A couple of great extra options to consider, is to have the ability to track expenses in the system as well, as you may have for example hotel, mileage and other expenses associated with your project work, and also the option of having hourly rates in the system, so that you can easily see cost, revenue and profit on your projects. These are also components of proper project cost management.
Getting Your Staff to Support Time Tracking
Some people may be a bit reluctant when the talk goes to time tracking, feeling that their every move might now be scrutinized.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Proper time tracking is in place, so that you can optimize the way you work, and make sure that you spent your time on the right things.
Giving users access to reports will also allow them to see how they spent their time personally, which can really be beneficial and also sometimes an eye-opener.
So when you are implementing an Outlook timesheet reporting system, it is important that you inform them from the beginning and show them how this will not only lead to better project cost management and effective project management, but that they will also benefit individually by being better able to manage their time and see how they spent their time.
Also, show them how easy it is to use time tracking in Outlook compared to more traditional approaches where you type in your time manually, and have to remember when you did what.
So as you can see from the above, when you want more efficient project cost management and simply a better and more enjoyable way to work, you need to find a good time reporting solution, one that can be integrated with your Microsoft Outlook calendar, and make it easy to see how you have spent your time, so that you can use this information for future projects and project planning overall. This is all paramount for your organizational success.
When finding a software for reporting time that supports this, and when you also want the implementation to be a success, bear the following in mind:
- Your time tracking solution should integrate with the Microsoft Outlook Calendar
- You should have easy reporting and data sharing capabilities
- Optional expenses tracking
- Optional hourly rates
- Involve your users early and show them the benefits
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