News Feature | May 19, 2015

Study Finds Inconsistent Use Of Project Management Tools Among Services Providers

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Study Finds Inconsistent Use Of Project Management Tools Among Services Providers

Almost 40 percent of project managers do not use project planning, tracking, or collaboration software, making it impossible to track the profitability of their projects, according to new study from AffinityLive.

The study, “Blind Sweat & Tears: A Study Into Client Project Management Practices Across the Professional Services Sector,” examines the effectiveness of professional services firms in terms of how they manage projects and found, while the competence of a professional services firm in managing client projects determines their productivity, profitability and even survival, many are unprepared. More than two-thirds of project managers with six-month or longer project scopes do not use any software to track budget and deadline progress; 75 percent don’t use software for projects less than one month in duration; and more than two-thirds do not use software for projects lasting between one and three months.

Essentially, what the AffinityLive survey discovered was that professional services firms are losing revenue due to poorly managed projects and lack of tracking employee time.

And since 60 percent of professional service projects are completed in less than three months, Geoff McQueen, founder of AffinityLive explains, “While it is self-evident that longer, larger projects need more planning and management, our finding that two-thirds of the most common projects (1-3 months) are managed manually was staggering.”

And the findings were even more startling when it comes to managing budgets, where the study discovered that more than 70 percent of project budgets are either tracked manually or not at all. “Tracking budget usage manually is not just an annoying admin burden for project managers — it is also dangerous given how quickly hard-working professionals can rack up hours on a project, sending it way over budget if you're not on top of it,” explains McQueen. “Without a tool to track budgets, it’s almost impossible to determine project profitability until it is too late.”

And while communication was cited as the most critical element to a successfully managed project, 90 percent of those polled hailed email as the most important method of communication, while ‘collaboration’ technology ranked near the bottom of most important methods of communication.

In the Business Solutions article “Why A PSA Solutions Should Be A Part Of Every IT Provider’s Business,” McQueen cited a 2014 survey from SPI Research that found professional services companies that have a PSA tend to be 25 percent more profitable than those that don’t … The best PSAs can do things like track all of the emails clients send to your team and vice versa, which is a great boon to visibility. They should also be able to show you how busy/profitable your business is in real time, as well as forecast the future; this means you spend less time worrying and flying blind (never fun) or running your business from the rear view mirror of an income statement (very dangerous), and more time driving your team, business growth, and revenue.”