Project Timesheet Blog

Increasing productivity in projects  

One of the biggest headaches for any CEO of a "per-project" company is how to improve their profitability. In almost every case there's an estimation of the time that the Project will take, which is then converted into a quote that potentially leaves the company in dire straits. From the moment that the quote is accepted there are several factors that increase the Project hours needed from our initial estimations and decrease its profitability or even turn it unprofitable. When this happens repeatedly in many projects, the company will have serious problems and it must find out how to solve the situation. This is a very common problem, but it is not easily addressed. It is the same as admitting publically that there's bad production management, which ends in looking for "culprits". In most of the cases the culprits are not Project Leaders or Production Managers. The problem is that those people didn't have the resources and training needed. There isn't an easy and intuitive way to manage these situations either. Everybody assumes that Project Managers are "super-men" that can handle anything. On the other side, and most important, it is essential that the whole company becomes profitability-oriented, through the right processes and reinforcements from the Upper Management.

Everybody related to Project Management knows the causes to the profitability problems. They can vary from one sector to another but, as an example:

  • Errors in time estimation for each task or in its definition.
  • Errors in expectation management, generally because of communication problems between the client and the technical staff.
  • Deviations in the development caused by changes of the client's criteria or vision.
  • Excess of hours once the Project is "finished" by poor management of client revisions.
  • Unexpected technical problems.

Protecting and preventing all these potential threats require a high level of commitment by everyone involved in the Project, from the Project Manager to each worker in the production chain. In many companies the responsibility of all this is delegated in the Project manager, who has several people in charge and several projects with dozens or hundreds of tasks. If everybody is not involved, and without a real-time tracking control, the manager usually gets overwhelmed by the sheer amount of hours that task-managing duties require. Moreover, in many cases, timesheets are filled "by memory" or weekly, which generates additional management problems and difficulties in foreseeing schedule deviations.

We had a deep knowledge of Project Server and it wasn't suited to our needs. That's why we decided to build Project Timesheet with some basic premises in mind:

  • User-friendly interface so workers can report hours and comments to their Project Manager.
  • Real-time timesheet filling, and the possibility for the Project Manager to review them also in real-time. This is essential to foresee profitability problems.
  • Engaging the users with the profitability measures through the information.
  • Intelligent prediction system that notifies workers and Project managers of deviations.
  • Reducing the workload and 'procedures' for the Project manager.

We are very satisfied with the outcome of this tool. In our first field tests, in a 25 worker company (with the needed training and a reinforcement policy) we managed to increase the global average productivity of the projects by 6% the first month. The second month is in progress and the average productivity has risen an additional 6%.

In our next blog entry we will share the current results.

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