What is project handling?
Project handling is the execution of all project-related tasks from the beginning to the end of a project. Project planning is generally not included.
What does project handling include?
In addition to the actual project execution (i.e. the completion of the individual work packages within a project), administrative and controlling tasks are also part of project handling. They ensure that the project runs according to plan and that the customer is satisfied with the result. The following components are particularly important for the success of the project:
- project documentation
- project controlling
- project accounting
Documenting work is often a rather stepmotherly duty, because it gives the impression that you have to invest twice the effort. First for the actual task, then again for the documentation. However, a well-documented project is valuable in two ways. First, it makes the work easier for other project participants. It is easier for them to see what work has already been done and how, so they can pick up where they left off more quickly. Secondly, project managers who have detailed documentation are able to speak to the customer at any time. They can accurately reflect the current project status and are also prepared for critical queries. Last but not least, project documentation creates legal certainty for both sides – client and contractor.
Project controlling continuously checks whether the project is proceeding as planned. For this purpose, it uses a number of instruments such as:
- Target/actual comparisons
- Contribution margin analysis
- Earned value analysis
The purpose of project controlling is to identify deviations from the plan at an early stage or – even better – to avoid them in the first place. These can occur in three different areas.
- time deviation: the project takes longer than planned.
- cost deviation: the project is more expensive than planned.
- performance deviation: the quality or scope of the project deviates from the plan.
All three types of deviation are problematic because they can significantly increase project costs.
Project billing is an administrative activity that is often closely related to the project. Particularly in the case of larger projects, invoicing often takes place in several installments, depending on the progress of the project. To ensure that billing runs smoothly, the payment arrangements should be agreed as clearly and unambiguously as possible with the client before the project begins. When is which payment due? What conditions must be met? How much is it? Which payment conditions apply? In this way, you avoid uncertainties and unpleasant queries.
Tips for successfully handling projects
Tip 1: Communicate comprehensively with all project stakeholders
Communication plays a prominent role in project execution to prevent misunderstandings. This involves coordination within the project team, but also with the customer.
Often, projects fail not because of implementation, but because of a lack of communication and wrong expectations. “Expectations are one-sided contracts that the other person knows nothing about,” says Karlheinz Wolfgang, exposing the biggest weakness of non-communication.
Everything that the customer or a member of the project team merely expects without explicitly expressing it can lead to surprises afterwards. Therefore:
- Always clearly articulate what you expect as the outcome of the project or an individual work step.
- Repeat the expectations of other project stakeholders (especially customers) in your own words and ask whether you have understood the content correctly.
- Communicate the current status of the project regularly, transparently and proactively. In this way, you avoid false expectations and create a uniform level of knowledge.
Tip 2: Automate administrative processes as far as possible
Where there are people, mistakes happen. It is therefore advisable to automate routine administrative processes as far as possible.
Project teams often counter this suggestion with the argument that they are constantly in close coordination anyway. In practice, it looks like this: The project head sends an e-mail to accounting to trigger the next invoice. Queries are clarified by phone, then the accounting department creates the invoice using Word or Excel, finds the customer’s contact data and sends it by mail.
This process is laborious and error-prone because …
- What happens when one or more parties are sick or on vacation?
- Writing invoices with office programs takes a lot of time.
- Due to the many contacts, programs and media changes, transmission errors easily occur.
- Are the customer’s contact details still up-to-date?
A better solution is a software solution such as teamspace, which automatically triggers the billing process and bundles it in a single application. As soon as the project manager marks a relevant subproject as completed, the associated items appear in the order as billable. One click is all it takes to generate the appropriate invoice in the predefined layout. The contact data is automatically transferred from the CRM database, and the invoice can then be sent directly from the system.
This automated solution saves time, reduces sources of error and creates a “single place of truth” for all project and billing issues.
Tip 3: Document project activities and results
Bundle your project documentation in one place: activities, times, costs, results and more. Comprehensive project documentation helps you several times over:
- Team members can refer back to what has already been documented. Acceptance reports, images, project gates – all this can be stored online with the help of a suitable cloud solution. Instead of having to ask a team member first, employees can access the online file storage directly and find what they need. The teamspace software organizes the file storage based on your work breakdown structure. In this way, the documents are also located in the correct work package.
- Documented project efforts (times, costs) allow to analyze the success. If your employees record all the time they spend on a project, this gives you an accurate picture of the labor costs incurred. Material costs and other cost types can also be recorded digitally and used to calculate the contribution margin. The analysis tells you how much profit you are making on a project.
- Services rendered can be verified quickly and easily. A timesheet or activity record automatically collects all relevant times of your employees. The times can also be charged on via an external hourly rate.
Tip 4: Maintain an overview of the project at all times
If projects are not handled from a central location, the overview is quickly lost. Important documents are then scattered in different places. This makes project management more difficult and makes targeted evaluation practically impossible.
Instead, bundle all documents and – even better – the associated processes in a central location. A common work platform creates an overview and should be the first point of contact for your employees. There they will find the project plan, their assignment planning and the project documentation. Employees who have the appropriate rights can also access invoices, project times and budget planning via the platform.
Smart PM software like teamspace ensures that the individual data and processes mesh together. A team member gets sick? Then teamspace alerts you to the gap in the schedule. If you then reallocate work, the affected employees automatically receive a message.
The system supports you not only in project management, but also in project controlling. By bundling all relevant data in one place, you can perform live target/actual comparisons, keep an eye on labor costs, or analyze the contribution margin.
Only if you maintain an overview of project execution at all times can you recognize in good time if something is not going according to plan and take countermeasures. A meaningful evaluation of success at the end of the project will then also be much easier.
Try out teamspace for project handling
Successful projects start with good planning. Leave nothing to chance and test the teamspace software for your project. teamspace combines project planning and execution in one software.