How Project-Management Software Affects Project Control

March 1, 2008
Project-management software impacts costs and budget control, visibility of project performance, and standardization of processes

Project-management software is key when construction and engineering firms, building owners and operators, and government agencies need to manage the plan, build, and operate phases of capital construction projects and programs. There are three fundamental ways that an integrated, single project-management software solution influences project control, each being critical to a project or program's success: 1) cost and budget control, 2) improved visibility of project performance, and 3) standardization of processes.

Budget and Cost Control
Accurate budget and cost management is essential to managing and forecasting the financial success of projects and programs. A project- and portfolio-management solution provides a comprehensive system for managing budget development and comparing budgets to actual costs. Without dedicated project-management software, project data remains disconnected, making it difficult for building owners to manage project performance, keep project costs and budgets under control, and ensure that their real estate portfolios are aligned with business objectives.

Implementing software that effectively creates "one system of record" for capital project data can generate unparalleled economic benefits to stakeholders across the entire plan, build, and operate ecosystem, including building owners, contractors, engineers, architects, and subcontractors.

Improved Visibility
Managing all projects, programs, and facilities in one system of record enables a roll-up of all project data so that organizations can evaluate portfolio performance in real time, as well as identify problem projects in time to intervene. As a result of this real-time reporting environment, organizations can decrease project risk and increase overall project performance.

A single solution can also eliminate double data entry and the need for paper-based files and approval proc­esses. With project-management technology, documents can move from desk to desk electronically in a streamlined fashion; content owners can view reports right on their desktops and access them as needed.

In addition to providing executive dashboards, individual project team members can also drill down to more detail or generate different views of report data to find the needed information rather than depend on other departments to deliver timely information.

Organizations can also realize significant business benefits by keeping all project documentation in one central repository. Managing documents centrally makes change management easy, with the necessary reporting and tracking functions that allow management to create complete audit trails of who approved what (and when). Having a single repository of every associated document, including changes to project scope, contracts, and work authorization approvals, lowers risk in the event of impending litigation.

Standardized Processes
Alongside the need to control budgets and increase visibility, businesses today are concerned with improving organizational efficiency and standardizing business processes enterprise wide. Automating these processes using workflow technology can eliminate inconsistent business practices and ensure consistent, repeatable proc­esses across all projects, providing great benefit to the organization as a whole.

A project-management solution that contains a flexible workflow engine makes it easy to implement consistent business practices and ensures adoption of these practices by enabling users to easily navigate through action items, urgent deadlines, and document approvals.

Sue Watkins is director of marketing at Folsom, CA-based Meridian Systems.

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