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Project management tools to support practices

5.10.2021

Project management is about the work people do, so the tools and procedures need to be easy enough to be useful to employees. There are various cloud service solutions to make project work more efficient.

The development of a unified and successful project culture creates the basis for successful project implementation in project management. Equally important for the formation and growth of culture are common ways of working and the tools that support them, as my colleague Jari Kyläjärvi wrote earlier. His text provides a good basis for a deeper examination of project management practices and tools.

Project management plays best with common rules

Project management and project portfolio management can be unified through common practices and “rules of the game”. They strengthen trust and cooperation between different stakeholders. As project activities are more transparent, they are also more comparable. This makes it easier to develop project work objectives to better support the needs of all parties.

In a successful project culture, the support of a committed project management and steering group to carry out a project that meets the goal and need plays an important role. Project activities are guided by jointly defined criteria for the completion of the various phases of the project within allocated resources. They ensure project management in a consistent manner throughout the organization.

Project work is more efficient from top management to every member of the project team when projects are carefully managed at all levels of the organization. Simultaneous project portfolio management helps to ensure that simultaneous projects and available resources are in balance.

Procedures and tools for project management

The effectiveness of leading projects and project management activities is crystallized in the relationships between people, tools, and processes in the Operational Excellence management style. These interdependent relationships form the framework within which the Operational Excellence goal area remains. Operations in terms of people, processes and tools are optimized with a philosophy of continuous improvement.

The process is inefficient if the activities of people and tools are poorly organized. Again, people are not committed if processes and tools don’t work. When tools are inefficient and therefore little used, processes and people are also inefficient. The optimization of these resources therefore has a significant impact on day-to-day operations in project work.

When project management is organized in terms of methods, tools and people, work and productivity at all levels of project management also become more efficient.

Cloud tools make project management easier

Project-likeness has become part of the everyday life and work of those who do information work today. Project management tools that act as cloud services are one of the biggest reasons for this phenomenon. Cloud tools provide a lightweight as well as an easy-to-use interface for end users in a web browser.

Project management is supported by cloud-based tools with versatile and easy-to-use functionalities. Various cloud technologies help to manage documents, tasks and projects that are processed both jointly and personally. They shall ensure that:

  • Information is available regardless of time, place and device
  • Information is up-to-date and accurate
  • Information is easy and quick to find.

Easily accessible information can be better utilized by ensuring systematic information management with a versatile and easy-to-use tool. The tool proves to be more useful if the same tool also helps with information management in project management as well as project-specific communication.

Project management with Microsoft tools

The Microsoft 365 service package offers versatile solutions for a variety of situations, from light project management to larger and more complex project work.

For example, Microsoft Teams enables data and document management, project communication, and reporting from a single application. With Teams’ versatile functionalities and connections to other M365 sub-services, both your own work and that of the project team and project management can be made more efficient:

  • Working with information and documents with co-editing and commenting features in Office 365 with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • Secure data life cycle management from document creation to sharing in SharePoint
  • Manage tasks and projects quickly and easily with Project for the Web or Project
  • Project reporting at both project and organizational level using Power BI
  • Automate project routine tasks and data storage and processing with Power Automate workflows and Power Apps mobile and browser applications.

In addition to Microsoft’s own tools, our customers have benefited from the features of the Solu 365® automation tool we have developed, which complements the tool palette for project management. With Solu 365, the project creation process can be significantly simplified, streamlined, and speeded up. The tool’s provisioning engine automatically creates a new project in Project for the Web and a new project group in Teams based on user input.

For example, certain project management tasks can be integrated into Project for the Web or templates for documents, channels and file folder structures and, if necessary, Planner task containers can be attached to the Teams group based on the organization’s data model. The automation of the Solu 365 is based on commonly defined use cases, with which the tool ensures compliance with commonly agreed procedures.

A working project tool requires a smooth implementation

Depending on the size and needs of the organization, a project management tool can be a big investment. The smooth use of the tool requires its planned implementation. Deployment planning, documentation and promotion should therefore be ensured through the involvement of management and staff.

The project pyramid presented in Jari’s article, including the needs and challenges of different user groups, provides a useful frame of reference when you want to integrate a project tool into a natural part of an employee’s workday. Deployment planning should consider that:

  • Consistent operation is ensured by defining common policies
  • In addition to guidelines and other support materials, commonly agreed practices are also documented for everyone to access
  • Training according to each user’s own level of competence is provided based on needs
  • Continuous communication is implemented to ensure the implementation and consolidation of the technical solution and related procedures.

With common tools, rules of the game, and other resources known and available to everyone, it is easier for every employee in an organization to understand and follow prevailing practices. This helps to make your daily work more efficient, both in terms of the use of tools and the way you work.

The challenges of project management have been made to be solved together – contact us or book a project management demo!

Mikko Sorsa
Senior Consultant, Partner

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