14 November 2016

The most important factors of successful project controlling

Stuttgart 21, the new Berlin airport, the Elbe Philharmonic Hall - unfortunately, there are currently a number of renowned major projects that are making negative headlines - because they are "getting off track" for a variety of reasons. But regardless of the size and level of publicity, for companies in project-oriented industries, every project is about keeping it "on track". In practice, this can only be achieved if professional project controlling is used.

Project controlling I: Milestones, responsibilities, costs

The first step is to review the milestones, responsibilities and budgets defined in the project planning and, if necessary, to adapt them to changing project circumstances. To do this, it is first of all necessary that all project participants - client, contractor as well as external participants have access to all data and documents associated with the project at all times, because only then are they able to compare the target and actual status in the project and take corrective measures if necessary. In addition, the project participants must be able to communicate these changes and "trigger" them via appropriate workflows, i.e. in the end everyone in the project must know what they have to do and when, even if this was not specified in the original project plan.

Project controlling II: time recording, resource planning, invoicing

The second main area of project controlling forms the basis for the business success of companies in project-oriented sectors. This involves the most efficient use of employees as well as the recording and accounting of the project work done. Within the framework of resource planning, it must first be determined who is available for the project and when, taking into account holiday and absence planning. In addition, it must be ensured that all work done for the project (working hours, travel expenses) is recorded as precisely as possible and then also accounted for. The challenge here is to also take into account the changes in the work performed during the course of the project. Often, additional work is commissioned in the course of the project, commissioned work changes or is cancelled again. All these changes have to be recorded precisely and taken into account in the accounting of the project.

The challenge: System proliferation

When it comes to project controlling, companies in project-oriented enterprises today are particularly faced with the challenge of managing the "proliferation" of systems and tools used in project controlling. As a rule, these companies today use project management software for the planning and implementation of projects, while the information and documents associated with the project customer (contact persons, offers, tenders) are often processed in a CRM system. The customer's change requests are then often processed in a ticket system, there is another special solution for travel expense accounting, invoicing is done via invoicing software and financial accounting software is used to book the orders.

As a rule, these solutions are isolated, self-sufficient solutions without integration. As a result, the transfer of information and data from one system to another often has to be done manually.

The most important factors of successful project controlling

The challenges described above result in the following success factors for successful project controlling for companies in project-oriented industries, which are decisive for the selection of an appropriate project management solution

  • Rely on an integrated project management solution that covers as many areas of project controlling as possible (resource planning, time recording, document management, invoicing).
  • Choose a solution that reduces manual work (recording of working hours, travel expenses, accounting of working hours) to a minimum. Integrated interfaces facilitate the connection to external systems and applications.
  • Pay attention to user-friendliness. This also increases acceptance among those involved in the project
  • Use a solution that supports mobile working. As a rule, project work does not take place at the workplace, but on site at the customer's premises or on the way to or from the customer. For this reason, it must be possible for those involved in the project to have access to the project data at any time and any place, to record working hours, and much more.

Conclusion: There are now many tools and systems that support companies in project-oriented sectors in their daily work. But only if they fulfil the above-mentioned factors for successful project controlling do they really prove to be a useful aid.

ZEP is a web-based, industry-independent standard solution for time recording and project controlling, especially in project-oriented companies, which specifically covers the areas of project controlling entitled "Project Controlling II - Time Recording, Resource Planning, Invoicing" in the article.