Communication Breakdown, Again? 3 Steps for Improving Project Management
In the fast-paced, ever changing world of development projects, access to current and accurate information is key to making the proper business decision, approving changes and communicating to team members associated with the project. And while many entrenched processes and ways of doing things stand in the way of this, the implications of not dealing with the information effectively will not only negatively impact the success of the project, but also result in increased frustration and job dissatisfaction for project managers and other team members.
And the effects are far reaching. Store Development departments, as well as other internal and external resources, who require accurate cost and time forecasts, are often hamstrung by the time it takes to get reliable information. And ultimately, resulting delays in obtaining approvals and documenting changes can, and many times do, impact opening schedules and business results.
So, what is getting in the way of proper information flow?
- The volume of data and disparate systems: There is a tremendous amount of information flowing into and out from multiple parties such as the PM, store planning, procurement, A/E firms, contractors and other 3rd party vendors for each project. In today’s environment everyone is handling multiple projects simultaneously across various stages of the development timeline. All of the information is flowing into numerous spreadsheets and systems. It’s not uncommon, for companies to manage their entire development process, not just construction, off of these disconnected Excel spreadsheets. So imagine when Friday comes around, and you are preparing for a departmental meeting on Monday, where you need to provide a status update on all existing projects. A tremendous amount of time is spent each week to aggregate the data and update all of the missing information. This process can not only take all day, but is also susceptible to many errors.
- Geography: For retailers and restaurant companies that are working on projects across the country – or even internationally – it can be challenging to keep information up-to-date. Managing projects via disconnected spreadsheets that are labor intensive to aggregate, can often mean that the information is already out-of-date by the time it is sent out via email. And it’s not just the aggregation of information that presents challenges. Often, because there are no common tools and processes, each region that reports up to division or corporate level managers ends up modifying the existing spreadsheet to better meet their requirements – making consolidation next to impossible. And after all that effort, the spreadsheets quickly become outdated and inaccurate since the information is being updated typically on a weekly basis.
- Lack of Mobile Access: Access to information also comes into effect when you consider that Project Managers in retail companies are typically handling multiple projects across multiple locations. In many cases project managers were forced to work with tools that keep them in their office, when they really needed to be spending more time on the job site. And PMs are often managing projects across a wide geographic region, so getting to the job site may take several hours – and then being hamstrung by lack of tools to complete tasks while onsite can seriously impact the success of the project.
The reality for PMs is that almost everything they do to manage their projects requires information from the field – managing time, cost and quality, updating schedules, dealing with scope changes and change orders, obtaining pictures of project elements etc. Being able to work effectively onsite also enables the PM to be more efficient and better able to immediately deal with managing these issues with minimal delays. When there is a change in scope, they can do a change order immediately from the field, rather than waiting until you get back to your office.
Ultimately, you want all development projects to be successful – and you want your people to work effectively and efficiently – and also to be successful.
The Right Tools Enable PMs to be More Successful, More Efficient.
With these hurdles standing in the way of efficiency, what your PMs require is a fully integrated lifecycle software system that provides the ability to manage all aspects of new development, remodels, relocations, closures and other capital projects throughout the development and construction process – both in the office and onsite. The ability to easily and effectively manage all aspects of cost, time and communication from mobile devices will help improve the speed of decision making, appropriate and real time communication to all relative parties, organized support documentation and accuracy of reporting.
A fully integrated software system provides:
- A single repository of data providing a single source of the truth.
- The ability to update and manage the data in real time throughout the development process
- Multiple levels of access to internal and external users to enable them to effectively manage their area of responsibility and support the overall success of projects
- Notifications within milestone management based on business rules to alert the appropriate person of critical target dates
- Visibility and management of information based on role appropriate authority
- Ability to initiate workflow and approval processes to ensure timely evaluations of cost changes, supporting the ability to manage decisions to prevent delays and appropriately document decisions and capture supporting documentation
- Schedule changes occur for various reasons and the user must have the ability to adjust dates within the development timeline and forecast re-populated milestone dates based on those changing conditions
- The ability of internal and external team members (based on roles and responsibilities) to view schedule changes in real time allows for everyone to react more quickly and effectively to the changes that effect their area of responsibility
- The quick and efficient updating of milestone dates across multiple projects without entering each project
- The capability to manage projects on site via mobile devices to
- update information, aid in decision making and ensure proper documentation
- accelerate the approval process for change orders and other authority requests by initiating them on site and uploading photos and other documentation to the system for viewing
- house support documents in an organized and easily accessible folder structure
Project Management capabilities as part of a total store lifecycle management software systems are a vitally important and effective tool for today’s multi-unit retailer.
Managing multiple programs and projects effectively and efficiently, and ensuring timely communication to appropriate stakeholders to ensure intelligent decisions with the necessary information in real time, will help maximize the PM’s ability to be successful in managing all aspects of their job responsibilities.
To learn more about Tango’s Program and Project Management capabilities, download our datasheet below.