Zoho One for Professional Services: Better Manage Your Projects
Professional services companies are dynamic and are always buzzing with activities. You get your prospects, interact with them, provide your solutions, draft a proposal, and then after the deal is cracked you send in the invoice. But wait, your work is still not over yet!
Because you have to manage the projects that you just undertook…
Yes, managing your projects flawlessly is crucial for your company and also for retaining loyal customers. Statistics suggest that 80% of your future profits flow-in from just 20% of your existing customers. Also, 82% of companies believe that retaining customers is cheaper than acquiring new ones. Hence, you need to build a powerful impression, which will attract your customers to your business whenever they are looking for the best solutions.
After all, we all love customers who can trust us with our work.
But you can’t win trust just like that! You have to earn it by doing an exceptional job…
So, project management for a professional services company affects not only your project deliveries but also enables customer retention, leading to future sales through repeat business. Hence, today, we will discuss effective ways through which you can better manage your projects. Also, we will explore more about the tools in Zoho One that can enable great project management.
7 Ways to Better Manage Your Project
Managing your projects efficiently is crucial for your company’s reputation.
We are more inclined towards listening directly to a customer’s experience about services, when thinking about purchasing one for ourselves. This direct testimony is more convincing than any other medium. That is why “word-of-mouth” is more effective than any other sales strategies.
To convert your customers into great sales-reps you have to deliver your projects in the most systematic way possible. So, let’s quickly list down 7 points to make sure you can manage your projects better and ace the game.
1. Set Defined Milestone and Tasks for Each Project
The first thing you must do, to complete the project, is to break it down into smaller parts.
When you try to define the project into milestones and tasks, then you can manage the project efficiently and systematically.
Handling the project in totality without proper divisions can make you and your team’s life miserable.
Also, when your business is all about professional services, you must have multiple projects streaming in, with different delivery deadlines. In such situations, confusions are inevitable, with a team trying their best to juggle from one project to another. This constant tussle ultimately results in mismanagement, with an overdue deadline and budget.
Hence, let’s try to have a well-defined milestone and tasks within the project.
A milestone comprises several tasks. Hence, the best way to do this is by allocating the tasks among each member within the team. In this way, they can look after their assigned work and coordinate among themselves to streamline better.
2. Centralize Communication to Coordinate Better
90% of the projects require team participation rather than individual involvement. Hence, every project requires a super-connected team to successfully deliver the work on time. Even when you allocate each team with the project milestone and its members with different tasks, you still need a system that will centralize the communication of all the team members.
All tasks are interconnected. Without the completion of the first task, you cannot undertake the second task. Hence the team, coordinating different tasks, must communicate among themselves to clearly understand the process. As it is a predominant factor to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
To have such an understanding within the team members, you need to have a common visible platform, where the tasks and its progress will be centralized. In this way, each team member will monitor the progress status of the tasks and take the next needful step towards project completion.
3. Set Realistic Timeline
Winning your clients by aiming at an unrealistic timeline is not really a good idea. Especially when you cannot deliver it on the proposed deadline.
In this way, your company’s reputation will be at stake. Also, if you try your best to meet the unrealistic timeline, this might affect the quality of work.
So, make sure you set a realistic timeline.
To plan properly about the timeline, it is always best to sit with your team and discuss it. Ask each member about the proposed time within which they will complete their allocated tasks.
After getting all the required information, properly outline and decide the timeline that the project will require.
In this way you can provide the right information to your customers and commit to it till the end, making your company look professional.
4. Optimize resource management
Managing your resources, when undertaking a project, is important to make sure that you can give out the best results.
Resource can be defined as elements that are both tangible and intangible, which includes people, finances, equipment, materials, and supplies. Especially in projects, resources can be identified with the concepts of balancing the elements to avoid shortages or excesses while optimizing it.
So, to manage the resources, you must have a proper idea of how you can optimize this better. To achieve this at its optimum level, make sure that you can use all the resources equally and sufficiently.
Say, when you allocate your team members with the different tasks for the project, you have to divide the work in such a way that you do not overburden them and at the same time keep them completely idle.
You also need to have a proper idea of how to implement the other resources better, honing your team member’s skill set.
To plan this utilization, you will need proper visibility of all the resources available to you for this project. A system, which enables you with a clear vision, can give you the extra power to understand and allocate the resources accordingly. In this way, your company can perform well, bringing out the best work in the industry.
5. Budget Management
Statistics show that 1 out of every 6 IT projects overrun their budget by 200%. This is a common pain point that every professional service company has to deal with. Hence it is super crucial to manage your budget, which can avoid this problem.
Let me outline a brilliant way through which you can smoothly manage your budget.
Start by setting a budget for all of your tasks and the time needed. Then you can start tracking your actual hours invested vs. the current hours. So, if the budget surpasses the estimated amount, then you will be in the position to anticipate and inform your client about this.
This will keep you and your customers away from any unpredicted surprises, making your communication with your customers transparent.
6. Timesheet management
We already know that being a professional services company; we stick to an hourly model. Hence it becomes even more important for us to manage the timesheet well.
Not just that, we also have to share the details of the hours used by each task with our clients regularly.
So, if you do not manage your timesheet well, the entire project can fall apart. Also, your clients will not be able to trust you completely, because of the constant changing reports.
We all want to be clear on how the work is being undertaken and why the estimated budget is needed. Without clear visibility, you might not be able to convince your veracity to your clients.
An unhappy customer is not good for your business, because you will start losing out on the many perks that a customer can give you; like repeat business, recommendations, and testimonies, above all an impression that will constantly reap multiple benefits.
Hence manage your timesheet exceptionally well, maintain transparent details that will verify your company with the impression of honesty and integrity.
7. Proper Reporting
There are multiple levers in project management. To make sure that each lever has an uninterrupted workflow, it is important to maintain a proper reporting system.
As already mentioned earlier, all the tasks are interrelated. This means that the team member assigned with the specific task needs to report to the team leader about the progress of her/his task. This enables the team manager to make critical decisions regarding the project and its milestones.
Without this proper system that showcases different reports regarding the task, the team will face miscommunication, resulting in the mishandling of individual activities.
Also, let us not forget that without the proper coordination among the team members with its managers, the project will fall through the cracks.
Hence, it is important to implement a system that will make sure that all the activities related to the project are well reported to the concerned members.
How Can You Manage Your Projects with Zoho One?
Managing your projects can be overwhelming if you do not use a proper system or a tool. After all, you have many things to look at when handling your projects.
Also, not just one, but you have to manage multiple projects with different milestones and tasks.
With Zoho One applications, handling projects will become a piece-of-cake.
Do you think I am over exaggerating?
Well, not at all, as right now I will take you on a ride to the amazing applications that Zoho One incorporates within itself to make your life easy.
Using Zoho Projects:
Well, your project work will definitely start after you crack the deal. Now comes the most challenging and the exciting part.
With a CRM that is integrated with a bundle of useful applications, Zoho Projects will streamline all the information and will generate a project management platform for you to operate.
Take a look:
You can easily see the task status, and many more information.
Setting Milestones and Tasks:
You will also see widgets that will redirect you to the important pages.
Let’s view the page that states what our milestone is:
Now, once you know what your project milestone is, you have to start assigning tasks to your team members.
For that you have to click the “Task” widget on your left-hand-side panel:
You will notice that there is already a list of Tasks that are waiting to be assigned.
In our case, with the milestone being “Website Development”, our task includes:
- Gathering information
- Content Writing and Assembling
- Maintaining: Opinion Monitoring and Regular Updating
This is systematic and easy to understand, making operations simple.
Now let’s assign team member for each task:
You can select the team member’s name and assign them.
Now, once you have assigned them, you have to provide more details about the task, which will help you monitor better.
You can also add Comments, Subtask, Log Hours, Documents, Forums, Dependency, Issues, Activities, and more, give you a very clear idea:
Gantt & Reports:
Let’s move to another section in this platform, which will solve many of the challenges, mentioned above. Yes, I am talking about the widget, “Gantt & Reports”.
You can get a Gantt chart, manage your resource utilizations, and predict proper estimations. Also, you can manage your task reports, report issues, and check your timesheet.
For instance, if you click the “Resource Utilization” option, you will be redirected to a new page that helps you to make a good decision regarding task allocation.
Look at the percentage see-saw that we should all aim to balance:
Also, if you want to check the Task status, you can do so by choosing the “Task Reports”:
Getting well-informed reports can help you to monitor your projects better and boost your confidence when delivering it.
CRM Integrated with Zoho Projects and Other Applications:
With a CRM system that is integrated with the Zoho Projects application, all your information is visible in both the platforms, helping you to check and decide your next action.
The CRM system will provide a quick overview of the project status:
We absolutely love this application, and I am pretty sure you will too!
So just try it out for yourself.
You can have a strong sales team that will close the best deals and lure in potential customers. But the actual test begins when you start handling the projects.
Managing your projects flawlessly is extremely critical to get a good reputation in the industry.
So, to successfully manage your projects, you must practice certain team habits that will help you to work like a magician. These habits include breaking the project into milestones and tasks, centralizing team communication, setting realistic timelines, and managing your timesheet and budget properly, with the fair sense of utilizing the resources.
But without implementing the right system and tools, managing projects and its aspects can become really hectic and messy.
With Zoho Projects integrated into your CRM system, you can inculcate these factors within your project, making your company the best in the market.