Project management is like herding cats. There’s a lot to keep track of and everything is going in different directions, only occasionally crossing paths. Project managers have to make sense of all the chaos and get everyone to the finish line.
That’s a lot to ask of anyone. If you don’t have a way to manage your projects and keep your team on the same page, your timeline will be continually pushed back and your budget busted.
There’s no question that every organization needs a tool to help manage its strategic projects. Here are some critical functions that simply can’t be accomplished with paper or spreadsheets:
Linking projects directly to your strategy. It’s critical to align projects to your strategic plan so you can see how all efforts are contributing to the larger goals. This doesn’t apply to every project...you’ll have be choosy based on what’s most important to track. (Chapter 2 in this article explains more.)
Tracking project statuses. Are your projects on track? Dangerously behind? You need the ability to see the status of your projects across the organization. This includes both high-level and detailed views of progress.
Changing project details. By their nature, projects shift and change. It’s essential to have an easy way to make updates to your projects and have those updates automatically apply to what you’re tracking and all relevant areas of related projects.
Standardizing the data you’re tracking. When you set up all strategic projects to track the same information, you can do “big-picture” reporting that reveals trends and gaps.
ClearPoint can help you do all these things, easily and as a natural extension of your strategic planning process.
Drawing A Line Between Strategy & Projects
ClearPoint is comprehensive strategy management software. Our technology includes some useful tools to help you manage strategic projects, but isn’t built to manage and track all project details. We cannot track the scheduling of individuals and the timing of delivering materials to a project site. Of course, with a little configuring, you can track budgets and link the budgets together to an overall measure tracking strategic project spend vs plan.
Why is it important to draw this line between strategic projects and all projects? Odds are, your internal teams are using different project management tools and your leadership team isn’t getting a clear picture of which projects are moving the organization’s strategy forward. ClearPoint can be the hub of information for your most important projects—nitty-gritty details might still live in each team’s project management system, but we help you track and report on the projects that impact your strategy.
Benefits Of ClearPoint’s Strategic Project Management Tools
The project management tools built into ClearPoint’s strategy software give you:
Flexibility To Track The Data You Need In The Format You Want
We realize that every project is different. ClearPoint allows you to customize how you track your projects, including:
Progress. Measure progress over time by budget, percent complete, and quality. Any of these measurements can be set against targets.
Accountability. Define your project team and name owners to delegate responsibilities.
Status. See current status at a glance with red-amber-green (RAG) indicators. Project status is automatically evaluated based on what you’ve decided are indicators, such as budget, percent complete, start/end dates, etc. You can apply RAG statuses to the milestone level and then roll them up to overall objectives.
Qualitative Analysis. Sometimes you’ll need to include details explaining the project’s status or progress. You have open fields to add qualitative analysis and give important context for projects. You can also include background information and attach relevant documents.
Consistency With Project Reporting
While every project is different, you still need to manage and report on projects using consistent methods across the organization. ClearPoint’s structure allows you to make “rules” to ensure your leadership team reports all have the same look and feel, even though the information is coming from different systems and teams. You have flexible customization options, but can enforce consistency with standardized:
Styles, colors, and branding
Data visualizations (such as Gantt charts)
It’s easy to change your tracking and reporting rules, which can then be applied in bulk or to specific projects. This can save your organization a ton of time while also maintaining consistency.
Transparency Across The Organization
Everyone should be able to see how their projects contribute to the overall organizational strategy. ClearPoint creates that transparency with built-in tools for:
Alignment. Link projects to company goals and visualize this linkage in your reports.
Set alerts for yourself or teams when deadlines are approaching, project spending is near the budget limit, new projects or action items are assigned, and more.
Create automated workflows to ensure projects are being reviewed and approved by the appropriate chain of command within the organization.
Send reports automatically so all stakeholders know the current status of projects and are consistently updated.
Real-Time Status Of Projects
As we mentioned in the beginning of this article, your leadership team needs to know how your strategic projects are performing. ClearPoint offers several types of project management dashboards. You’ll be able to provide a project status snapshot and convey information that helps leaders make informed decisions. Use ClearPoint’s dashboards to:
Get an overview of how many projects are on track or falling behind.
See high-level details of each project.
Easily spot issues and drill down for details.
Roll up projects into programs and portfolios.
Link projects across departments or up to the strategic level.
Remember, you shouldn’t be summarizing the status of all projects in your organization, and likely not even all of your strategic projects. Your status dashboard should show the handful of high-priority projects that have the biggest impact on your strategy.
You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) ditch your project management software.
Most organizations doing complex capital projects or resource-intensive projects use Microsoft Project or something similar for their detailed project management. You can retain all of these systems and integrate them with ClearPoint, without having to sacrifice any functionality. ClearPoint includes:
Data Loader, a tool to add and update projects from your source systems into ClearPoint.
An API for creating custom integrations.
ClearPoint Sync, which can seamlessly move data from ClearPoint to Excel and back again, all while retaining consistent formats.
Overall, ClearPoint’s project management tools help you manage, track, and report on strategic projects in a consistent manner. You’ll be able to get different teams across your organization involved in and contributing to your strategy. And your leaders will finally have an accurate picture of how projects are aligned with your strategy and driving your goals. Most importantly, all this information will be located in one place.
To learn more about our project management tools, request a demo.
Co-Founder & Alabama Native
Ted is a Founder and Managing Partner of ClearPoint Strategy and leads the sales and marketing teams.