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Role Of Project Management Software In Measuring Performance

Question

Task: Evaluate project performance in the initiation, planning and execution stages, utilising project management software.
Assessment Instructions

  • Evaluate 5 current project management software options and explain the benefits and shortcomings of each.
  • Explain how the software addresses the requirements of the 3 stages of a project plan, as stated in the brief above.
  • Use screenshots of the software examples you have chosen to assist in explaining your opinions.
  • Prepare slides as if presenting, although you will only be handing in a presentation. Place your full set of notes in the ‘notes’ areas relevant to your slide headings. 2,000 words.
  • There will be additional information which gives a fuller description of the assessment requirementsalong with KBS presentation guidelines. This will be posted on the myKBS Assessment  age.
  • Please refer to the assessment marking guide to assist you in completing all the assessment criteria.

Answer

Introduction
Measuring performance with the help of project management software is an analytical factor when optimising performance. Desirable performance is sustainably accomplishing multiple, at times conflicting objectives under various conditions. Project performance appears easy to calculate on the surface with only tracking scope, cost and time. However, it is a complex process as too many KPIs make the entire process a difficult task to measure. This report evaluates the key project management software enabling tracking and managing of a project much simpler. The mechanism of the software will be analysed addressing the stages of a project plan.

Five project management software
Project management software is used by different industries for planning a project, allocating resources and scheduling. With the assistance of the software, project managers and the entire team is able to control the budget, maintain quality and thoroughly exchange every document throughout the project (Jorgensen, 2019). On the other hand, project management software helps to track the presence of deliverables in managing resources and also from managing a budget to collaborate with every project member (Desmond, 2017). There is a lot to consider when managing a project and to opt for the best-suited project management software is essential.

project management software

Figure 1: Factors affecting the productivity of the construction business
(Source: How can construction improve its productivity? | Home | Construction Manager Magazine. 2020)

Five major functionality aspects of the project management software that must be evaluated are-

Task lists- Gives the ability to allocate and update every changing status of a task for the members of the team to function on the same page.

Schedules- There is different software offering Gantt chart, calendars and other milestone tools that are helpful for the project manager to comprehend where a specific task fit in a project. Also, provides idea on how much time is remaining in the completion of the project.

File sharing- The ability to organise and share key documentation of the project removes wastage of time while looking for important files.

Communication- It is critical in a project to maintain a flow of communication that act as a medium for quick and effective problem-solving.

Reporting- When it comes to updating the progression of the project, reporting is essential for every team member. On the contrary, it is a plus for a project manager ensuring that the project is been executing in a timely manner.

project management software

Figure 2: Technologies used by construction companies across projects
(Source: How can construction improve its productivity? | Home | Construction Manager Magazine. 2020)

Five project management software-

Software

Benefits

Shortcomings

Asana- It is a cloud-based software enabling project managers to develop a virtual workspace and collaborate with team members. It allows the manager to structure different tasks for a project, allocate them and deliver a deadline. The users are notified through the inbox regarding any deadlines and status. It can be also archived for future utilisation (Ferreira et al., 2018).

It offers many free plans which can be used by teams with a tight budget

Integration variety helps to combine software and third-party applications such as Salesforce, Dropbox and Slack

It provides confidentiality and storage security

Users can customise their dashboards to track each task separately

The project management software is complex and challenging with intimidating interface and graphics

Way too many options and features are overwhelming for a simple project creating decision fatigue

Tasks can be allocated to only one person

With limited export function with only CSV and JSON format, where Excel and PDF are common

Zoho projects- It enables users to create a budget, create and schedule tasks and assign by also setting deadlines. It is unique as it automatically processes a document, revises tracking and retrieval when necessary. Members can share files using a portal to minimise error.

With four pricing range and a free trial, users determine whether or not to opt for it in a business project

Users rarely experience any downtime, allowing them to complete tasks smoothly and faster

It provides customer support where users get a quick response to queries

Members get to communicate any updates or change using its tool

The search capability requires improvement as currently, users can only look for tasks that are in the current project

Poor bug reporting method demands a screenshot of it and uploading them many times fail

It does not allow users to quickly add contact information or allow to arrange them alphabetically

The high learning curve requires follow-through templates and tutorials

Podio- It is highly useful to track important emails and tasks in a much simpler form. It enables users to share changes or updates with team members but one at a time. As it is well planned, it easily handles multiple project activities. It supplies features such as team communication, virtual workspace for data and content creation and business processes.

It can be customised as per need to track tasks and multiple other projects at the same time

Users can manage personal projects as well as collaborate with others in a project

It allows users to organise every tasks and project by providing features like custom folder

Users can import Excel spreadsheets and map any data against their entry data. It saves time while retrieving tons of data

Podio is not efficient enough with the timesheet system. Users cannot maintain privacy of a timesheet from other members.

The task system majorly focuses on personal and assigned tasks leaving out tasks structured by others

The all-in-one system can be complex as at times it might pull the users in different directions

Teamwork projects- It allows categorisation and organisation of active projects. The provision of task list and subtask enables users to set priorities, reminders and tags. Furthermore, it allows to log spent time on projects along with a setting of start and end time (Postelnicu et al., 2019). The billing features include invoicing, multiple currencies, hourly rates and exporting to HTML, PDF and Excel.

Communication among the users and team members can be streamed through it

It saves time with features such as unified inboxes and ticket assignments.

Users can take suitable actions without leaving the desk

It enables users to be more organised with tasks, emails and background processes

The project management software is quite complex to navigate for the new users

The provision of multiple features in the system at times is distracting for newcomers

Comparing against other software, the user interface needs to perform better

The necessity to fulfil a various requirement in order to just add tasks, assign them or set start and completion date is time-consuming

Basecamp- It is well-organised with icons instead of linear listings. It lets users assign tasks, comment on files and notify others about recent actions. Every aspect of the project can get done in one place, removing the essentiality of sending messages or emails. It is easy to set up, letting the virtual team exchange information and be productive without frequent meetups.

It stores documents and files in one place making it easier for the virtual team to function on the same page

Their pricing is practical, giving options of rather opt for a free plan or paid plan

It can be accessed by mobile phone as well, other than laptops using iOS or Android system

Emails from the clients can be forwarded directly into Basecamp to share with members

It does not track time to evaluate project deadline

The topic list could get crowded, but the project management software does not provide an archive feature to declutter them

Basecamp has no starring feature, making it impossible to keep important topics on top

Like other software, it lacks basic features such as Gantt chart and accounting features

Table 1: Five project management software
(Source: Created by the Learner)

How Project management software address the requirements of the 3 stages of a project plan?
A standard project is inclusive of initiation, planning and execution stages representing project path.

Initiation stage: As the very first stage of the project, a team is formed as well as the business case is developed to define the project. A business case depicts the reason for initiating a project, how the resources will support the need and the risk attached to the proposal. On the other hand, it also demands to assemble a competent team and developing an organisational chart helps to list out experience and skills for each position (Kurt, 2017). Although initiation of the project requires manual works, opting for the correct project management software is essential to address the upcoming requirements of the project.

project management software

Figure 3: Project Initiation stage
(Source: Kurt, 2017)

It brings to the contingency theory that advocates that there is no right technique to doing a thing. For example, if Murrill Construction Ltd gets a contract to build and design buildings in the West Midlands of the UK, there is no proper infrastructure present in that region (Murrill Construction Ltd. 2020). Therefore, in the initiation stage, the project manager aims to define and assemble a perfect team to carry out this complex project. Using preferable project management software, the manager can then develop a time schedule for the project and a Gantt chart to display the transition of it to the stakeholders.

project management software

Figure 4: Productivity difference in the UK
(Source: Low skills and poor infrastructure blamed for UK productivity gap | Financial Times. 2020)

Planning stage: It is this stage where their project is developed and refined to meet the tasks of the projects. Here, the project manager identifies every requirement associated with the project in terms of resources, tasks and other activities to complete it in the assigned timeframe. Using the software, the project manager coordinate the project budget, resources such as equipment, material and labour essentiality with team members without the need to conduct any physical meeting (Sanchez and Haas, 2018).

project management software

Figure 5: Biggest challenges of project management
(Source: Hoda and Murugesan, 2016)

In the context of Murrill Construction, the team must integrate schedule, relevant activities of the project such as designing, attainment and construction workers. The design team works on conceptualising the interior and exterior of the building against the expense. On the contrary, the construction team focuses on building labour projection, refining their schedule and prepping the site (YU et al., 2018). In the presence of accurate software, the exchange of different activities and related information can be done using a single system through a virtual medium. It saves time and energy of the members which can be utilised in the assigned task. The provision of a task list, calendar viewer and comment feature among many others helps the members to work on the same page.

Execution stage: With the thorough assistance of the project management software, now the project is put into action. Now, using the software, project manager and members can update their progress as well as it can be controlled and adjusted as per requirement. Progress reports, documents and emails from the client can simply be shared on the virtual site for easy connectivity among the team (Burgelman and Vanhoucke, 2018). For Murrill Construction company, this stage represents to implement the plan and meet the scope of the project (Murrill Construction Ltd. 2020). As the material, hired labour and from the arrival of resources to the installation of the last light bulb takes place, the software enables them to record every modification, status and updates on a regular basis.

Conclusion
In conclusion of the above study, it can be stated that a project is a lot of work and planning. From the beginning of the project proposal to closing up the project, the project manager needs to conduct several forms of activities alone and with the team. As discussed above, the provision of project management software comes handy when working on a project as it provides different features such as dashboard, Gantt chart, spreadsheet, task list and many more in one place. It saves time, cost and energy of the project manager.

Reference list
Burgelman, J. and Vanhoucke, M., 2018. Maximising the weighted number of activity execution modes in project planning. Project management software European Journal of Operational Research, 270(3), pp.999-1013.

Desmond, C., 2017. Project management tools-software tools. IEEE Engineering Management Review, 45(4), pp.24-25.

Ferreira, T., Gutiérrez-Artacho, J. and Bernardino, J., 2018, March. Freemium Project Management Tools: Asana, Freedcamp and Ace Project. In World Conference on Information Systems and Technologies (pp. 1026-1037). Springer, Cham.

Hoda, R. and Murugesan, L.K., 2016. Multi-level agile project management challenges: A self-organizing team perspective. Journal of Systems and Software, 117, pp.245-257.

How can construction improve its productivity? | Home | Construction Manager Magazine 2020. Available at (Accessed: 22 January 2020).

Jorgensen, M., 2019. Relationships between project size, agile practices, and successful software development: results and analysis. IEEE Software, 36(2), pp.39-43.

Kurt, H., 2017. Project Initiation. Project management software In Cost Management of Capital Projects (pp. 107-147). Routledge.

Low skills and poor infrastructure blamed for UK productivity gap | Financial Times 2020. Available at (Accessed: 22 January 2020).

Murrill Construction Ltd 2020. Available at (Accessed: 22 January 2020).

Postelnicu, R., Darie, A., Scarlat, C. and Trifan, E.L., 2019. E-Learning to Support Online Training in Software Project Management for Better Work-Life Balance. eLearning & Software for Education, 1.

Sanchez, B. and Haas, C., 2018. Capital project planning for a circular economy. Project management software Construction Management and Economics, 36(6), pp.303-312.

YU, M., ZHU, F. and WANG, L., 2018. Research on Synergistic Mechanism of Project Planning and Cross-Functional Knowledge Integration. Chinese Journal of Management, (9), p.4.

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