Time management is one of the most important functions of project management. Much researches have been conducted and many articles are written about this concept. Basically, time management practices in project management involve planning, updating, monitoring and controlling project activities for successful completion. Project teams use time tracking software tools for many different purposes such as managing long-lead items, meeting project milestones and tracking the project budget. However, many project managers and team members may find it difficult to select the most efficient software tool for tracking activities within their projects. In this article, we will discuss the importance of time management and talk about how time management software helps you track your project’s timeline.
Importance of Time Management
Fundamentally, budget and time tracking information are needed to keep a project alive. Project teams, clients and funders never like unexpected circumstances and surprises. All the time, they are too busy trying to understand the health of their projects.
Stakeholders typically ask below questions to the project managers to understand how the project is performing.
- Do we have delays?
- Are we below or above the project budget?
- Are we behind or ahead of the schedule?
- What will be the completion date of this project?
- What is the impact of delays on the project’s objectives?
In order to give proper answers to these questions, project managers should give due consideration to their projects in terms of time management. They need to estimate the future performance of their projects by analyzing past work performance reports. Therefore accurate timeline reporting capabilities are must-have for any project management software.
Using Time Management Tools in Projects
It is clear that every project needs a schedule and every project manager needs to manage the project’s timeline. Although both time tracking tools simplify managing timelines and schedules of projects, they have key differences. They have different features, solutions, pricing and pros and cons. But they are necessary for the success of any project manager.
Some of them like Primavera P6, have advanced project program and portfolio management capabilities. On the other hand, some of the software tools like Microsoft Project enable to view necessary project information in a quick way. Many project teams use both of them to evaluate the effectiveness of time tracking within their projects.
If the time tracking software you’re using is much more complicated than you need, you will spend too many hours to use and create some basic reports. Then it will become useless because none of the team members will use it.
On the other hand, if the software is user-friendly, time tracking and reporting will not be painful for the team members.
While choosing the best time management tool, you need to think about your team members’ requirements and experience – from the planner creating the schedule, to the supervisor doing the work, to the person supplying materials; how does the software all fit together?
So, what are the key aspects of selecting a good time tracking software? You need to ask yourself below questions to decide if the selected software responds to the needs.
- Is it user-friendly? (or easy to use)
- How does it facilitate tracking project activities?
- How does it facilitate tracking resources and costs?
- How can we integrate it with other applications?
- Does it have advanced reporting functions?
Actually, Oracle’s Primavera P6 is one of the best project management tools that can be used for project planning and management.
Benefits of Using the Time Management Software
Microsoft Project and Primavera P6 are advanced project management tools for team members, stakeholders, and planners. Project planners export the project schedule from Primavera P6 database in .xer or .xls file and share with their team members to view and control the project schedule.
Simply put, time management software provides effective solutions from small and medium-sized companies to large enterprise organizations. Below are the key benefits of using Time Management Software in projects to track the performance.
- Time management software enables us to import and export the project information in a quick way.
- Considering the benefits, the cost of time management software is not too much.
- Most of them are user-friendly tools that make easy to track activity dates.
- Improves teamwork.
- Team members can better understand the effects of potential delays.
- It provides a familiar work environment for team members.
- It helps to gain an accurate insight into project progress.
- Enables to use layouts to organize project data.
- Displays WBS (Work Breakdown Structure), OBS (Organizational Breakdown Structure) and EPS (Enterprise Project Structure)
- Provides dedicated customer support.
Professionals across all industries use software for many years to track their projects’ performance. However, all the software tools are not capable of responding to needs. A project management software should be capable of handling large teams, lots of clients and many projects at the same time. Beyond these, team members need to know how to use the time-tracked information for future estimates.
In this article, we discussed the importance of time management for projects. By the help of Primavera P6, you can create project schedules, allocate resources and update activities to track the performance of your project. There are many tools available on the market that enables you to open and view project information from .xer file without the need to have a Primavera P6 license. By this means, you can save your money on purchasing software licenses for people who will not use all the functions of Primavera P6.
Are you using time management software like Primavera P6? You can share your suggestions, tips or thoughts through the comments section below.
Linda Maltz is vice president of design and consulting at Cuboca, a project management training and consulting organization specializing in construction management and BIM. She is certified Primavera P6 Trainer.