Updated: Nov 25, 2020
Pre-warning, we say project management a lot in this piece.
A CLASSIC CONUNDRUM WITH A SIMPLE ANSWER. PRECURSIVE'S ROBBIE BURNELL TAKES YOU THROUGH THE QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD BE ASKING YOURSELF BEFORE ESTABLISHING WHAT FORM YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TAKES.
Webster's dictionary defines project manage...sorry I’m not going to go down that trad path. In truth, in order to discover the true definition of project management in an increasingly automated and remote world, we’re now looking at a much more complex picture. But when and if you’re seeking to define your requirements surrounding the product services (or services as a product) your company offers, people frequently conflate two terms: project management and professional services automation. This occurs as the term project management is too all-encompassing, often to its detriment; it means multiple things to multiple people.
And so, when moving one stage further on in the journey to improve and automate your project management function, say to a beautiful and Salesforce native app like Precursive (not biased), you might become bamboozled by the range of terms and sub-terms that project management encapsulates.
FIRST, LET’S SIMPLIFY PROJECT MANAGEMENT
To digest this in a dispassionate way, project management can be broken down into three main categories:
Professional Services Automation
Rather than view these categories as competing, it’s best to view them as progressive stages of project management overall, each progression providing a further layer of capability rather than separate concepts in themselves.
Remember when I said this:
‘But when and if you’re seeking to define your requirements surrounding the product services (or services as a product) your company offers, people frequently conflate two terms: project management and professional services automation’
Thanks Bryce. The solution to such a problem (PM vs. PSA) is knowing what capability is required as well as which are the best methods for the avoidance of complex, messy and unnecessary admin.
APPLYING THESE CATEGORIES TO YOUR ORGANIZATION
At the base level of healthy project management, task management is the simple way to capture, categorize and check-off activities. Applications here are great for individuals needing to manage their everyday, from personal to-do lists to managing a small team; PrecursiveOBX provides this functionality (and then some).
But task management doesn’t provide project management - here you’ll require more capacity to actually plan and execute on work in a well-organized manner. Prioritization is often a necessity, so applications here should provide the ability to create task dependencies and time estimates as well as intelligent ways of sharing project progress or task completion to stakeholders, both internally and externally. This collaboration element is often critical to success. Most tools should also provide some level of reporting functionality around progress but seek out the tools which aid and automate the creation of your own reports and dashboards.
PROFESSIONAL SERVICES AUTOMATION (PSA)
Ok, let’s state the obvious - PSA helps those in the professional services industries. The key requirement here beyond traditional project management is knowing the critical information and metrics that make your services profitable, i.e. the billing rates of the people on a given project.
The profitability of a project is impacted by the resources allocated. Good PSA apps will provide workflows and approvals that are based around assigning people to a project whilst ensuring that you’re doing this with a more science-based approach (beyond simple time metrics - see Agile Workforce). For staff and managers alike, logging time against activity can constantly improve on the reporting and understanding of profitability metrics. Billing and invoicing can also be enhanced in this way.
Determine which of these statements you identify with, and where your requirements lie within the four key product areas.
SO, IN A SENTENCE?
Task Management - I’d like a reminder of what I’m doing so I never forget.
Project Management - I need to plan and map work requirements and who is executing on them, collaborating across team and customer alike.
Professional Services Automation - we need to increase profit margins by making resource allocation and planning more efficient.
KNOWING WHAT YOU NEED
If you're evaluating tools or simply desiring to know which element is most salient to your business, it is easy to get lost in comparing multiple requirements from multiple sources and departments and, in turn, losing yourself down a rabbit hole of features. Ensure you steer the conversion back to the problems you are actually facing; there is likely a single most requirement at the top of the pile and that will in-turn inform your decision making.