What are the best project management tools for professional services organizations?

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  1. What are the complexities that professional services organizations face?

Projects in consulting firms or agencies are far more complex than when it comes to resource planning and project management than in normal companies. They require specific project management software.

  1. They have a commercial aspect since they are billed to clients. So they need to be treated in a much more agile way because the deadline depends on the client rather than internal priorities. Professional services organizations need to be able to absorb projects pick loads and maintain flexibility. It is therefore imperative to constantly have a good visibility over the planning at different horizon of time (short and longer-term). This helps creating agile project management. Besides, these organizations need to have visibility over availabilities of their teams in the near future.
  2.  professional services organizations must keep track on the planning because on-time delivery is an important metrics. Again, since the project deadline is determined by the client, it is required that the project is delivered within the requested timeframe.
  3. Teams are often a combination of the consulting organization internal resources, external experts or freelancers for specific tasks and sometimes the client has its say in the project.
  4. Projects managed by professional services often necessitate travels to meet the client or work on-site. Tracking the performance of a project requires to follow the expenses to incur costs on the project (even if they are billed to the client)

For all the above reasons, the best project management tools for professional services organizations include at least the following functionalities:

Project assignment / planning:

  • Team schedules full visibility. It is important to know who is available and when. It also important to quickly determine if employees are working on external projects (harder to reschedule) or internal projects (that can be pushed to add flexibility). A good project management software will use specific color codes to simplify the decision process.
  • It also important to have visibility over availabilities. Sort by skillset and capacity the team in order to quickly identify the right resources to use for a new project.
  • Finally, the software should help you assign automatically resources on projects or tasks. You should be able to set a timeframe, and let the software hold places in the calendar of the employee based on his current schedule.

Collaboration tool: it is critical to break silos and share a common environment to avoid bottlenecks. If you don’t have this shared environment, you risk to quickly be delayed in your project and fail to show strong on-time delivery results. This shared environment should help you track tasks completion, share documents and communicate if needed.

In the best ones, you may have the capacity to set up reminders or notifications when someone is late. It is much more convenient when the reminder is coming from the software when the delay is coming from the client.