As a project manager or team leader, most of your job involves balancing timeline demands against available budget and resources. PMs are also responsible for holding team members accountable and learning from past successes and failures.
This is why the “management” part of project management is so important. Your life will be much easier, and your team more successful, if you have the right kinds of reports ready and available at your fingertips. Real metrics are the best way to enforce accountability and guarantee improvement from one project to the next.
So which of the dozens of kinds of reports should project managers prioritize?
Gantt charts are a great visual tool for detecting overlapping timelines and overused contributors before the project even begins. Not only can you see the start and end of each individual sub-activity, but you can also see the complex web of interdependencies required to get projects past each stage.
Active Gantt Chart reports add a whole different layer of interactivity and flexibility, allowing you to react to any bottlenecks or roadblocks on the fly with a quick, real-time adjustment to the plan.
Resource Loading Report
One of the most difficult aspects of planning a project is allocating the right contributors to the right project at the right time. Who is available? What is everyone else currently working on? Will they be on vacation next week?
These questions can all be answered at a glance with project reports such as the Resource Loading Report. The project manager will be able to keep track of resources and performance, see their commitments across projects, as well as anticipate and avoid any possible project roadblocks. You’ll also be able to help overburdened team members manage their time by seeing who else with the same skill set/job function is available to assist in their task.
As you already know, accuracy and exact figures are crucial for billing and invoicing. Time has to be tracked and verified, often to the last minute. With this being said, issuing an invoice usually takes a lot of manual work – putting together all time entries, checking billing rates, sum everything up and check for error, etc.
The best solution would be a comprehensive report that itemizes every single time entry, session, and financial expense that impacts the bottom line. This report should also be intelligent enough to separate items that have already been billed versus those that have yet to be expensed to prevent double-billing.
Thankfully, reports like that already exist. You just need to ensure that all of the project time your team has logged is accurate and up-to-date (which is a whole other discussion).
In today’s data-driven society, project managers have no excuse for relying on gut checks and subjective impressions. Project reports are widely available and are key to maintaining schedules and proper resource management. So take advantage of your access to these critical reports and save time, avoid tedious manual work and more your life much easier!