Best practices for project lifecycle management

It’s a changing and challenging world for service-based organizations. Expansion into larger and even global markets brings with it a host of new concerns such as unfamiliar expectations, different cost structures and work practices, and new business partners.

For example, global customers are demanding more business accountability and instituting new mechanisms to monitor compliance. Clients want more visibility into service delivery and billing processes. Workforce profiles vary widely across geographies, making it hard to maintain portfolios of key talent. In fact, talent management is identified by executives as one of their two biggest challenges. Challenges like these reflect the complexity of global business today and add to the overall risk that service organizations already face.

With that in mind, let’s look at three broad areas of focus that can help your organization better manage project lifecycles and set your team up for long-term success, one project at a time.

1.  Embrace a digital transformation 

We’ve seen how technology has positively impacted us all as individuals and economies. But how can it specifically affect your service project process?

In the same way that harnessing emerging technologies empowers your organization to nimbly anticipate and adjust to quickly evolving market changes and consumer demands, from an internal project management perspective it can provide integration, information, and more rapid adaptation to changing circumstances.

For example, Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation (PSA) provides an integrated end-to-end software solution for planning and managing multi-day projects, optimizing resource utilization, tracking and approving project tasks and finances, and monitoring performance metrics for customer-facing collaborative engagements. It helps project-based organizations build trusted customer relationships and develop a solid reputation for delivering outstanding project experiences by integrating all phases of a project’s lifecycle:

  • Opportunity management
  • Project planning
  • Resource management
  • Team collaboration
  • Time and expenses
  • Billing
  • Service analytics

With real-time data and full integration, your team is much better prepared to plan and execute with excellence across all stages of the lifecycle.

Companies succeeding at digital transformation are doing four things: Becoming more engaged with their customers, empowering their employees, optimizing how they run their business operations, and transforming the products and services they offer using digital content. The dimensions aren’t new, but what has changed is the role that systems of intelligence now play, providing better insight from data and converting that into intelligent action.

Companies that embrace intelligent customer engagement as a strategy view emerging technology as a vehicle to transform their business and create new opportunities to grow their bottom line.

2.  Stay agile 

Similarly, a business that responds in a more agile fashion to the twists and turns of fate will see more success, scale faster, and cope better with the challenges that come with growth.

This approach becomes critically important when we look at a project’s lifecycle, and in how your team can remain informed, active, and responsible as a project’s circumstances, components and even goals can change.

It’s one thing to adopt the acceptance of change. But how do you act on it? Again, information and integration are key, and PSA software can offer a solution.

The sooner you have the information you need to make business-critical decisions, the better. Here are a few examples where data and agility can make a big difference for your project lifecycle: 

  • Monthly revenue forecasting changes weekly. This provides a view of any work that’s slipping, which means resource planning can be updated to keep utilization high.
  • Consultants with time on their hands due to slipped or early-completed work can be assigned to help the sales team close new deals. The sales team can be strategically directed to focus on project work matching the available skill sets.
  • Information from sales on what’s in the pipeline and the likelihood of winning it advises senior management and resource planners on what new hires or cross training to invest in to meet upcoming demand.
  • Cash flow improves because invoicing is accurate and ready within hours of the project’s completion. Why wait until the end of the month to send it out?
  • Monthly senior management meetings go weekly, or even daily. Today, management interventions often come too late to be useful. Increased, real-time and accurate visibility means they can make small, strategic nudges to the business or individual projects as needed, bypassing the need for wholesale interventions.

These examples of agility lead to increased resource utilization, and most importantly, increased profits and scalability.

3.  Always iterate

Transformation and agility are both ongoing commitments in themselves, and it’s important to apply that iterative perspective to your lifecycle overall.

Iteration allows you to evaluate and improve, and requires both narrow and broad data to support it. Look granularly, look in the long-view. Also, open the iteration process across the entire project team, inviting collaboration even after a project is completed. Not only does this provide valuably different perspectives, it involves your staff in ways that empower, encourage, and ultimately help retain professional talent.

Set up your team for long-term success, one project at a time!