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30 May 2016

Smart Way to Automate Project Management

Success of each project depends on several aspects: clarity of goals and requirements, control of the project scope, resources, schedule, quality and risks.

When you have to manage many projects at the same time, a typical project management system is not a sufficient tool and customizing it is too long and expensive. While a business process based solution can be of great help to a project manager, since it can automate routine processes and allot more time for making significant changes to the project.

If a company needs a transition to a higher level of project management, which allows connecting execution of all the projects in a single process, a special system is necessary.

ELMA Projects+ application based on ELMA BPM Platform implements the process approach in project management.

The application is a feature rich solution for managing projects, resources (time, financial, human) and establishing communication between the project team members. With this application, you can define typical procedures in each project in speed them up. To understand how it works, let us talk about some specific features of project management.

Each project consists of several phases. At each phase, the project enters a new state, which brings it closer to achieving its goal. These phases comprise the project life cycle. Each phase may be divided into several stages.

Business processes are used to change stages. Supervisors can get all the information on the current project status just by learning its stage. You can configure transitions between stages as active, i.e. when the manager changes the project stage, a business process starts.

Business process diagram

Fig. 1. Overtime request process

Project Conveyor

Despite the fact, that each project is unique, there are repetitive patterns, processes and chains of processes. For example, when new stores of a retail network open, all the phases from stock orders to selling goods will repeat many times. You can use such patterns to your benefit. In the Projects+ application, you can configure adjustable templates for typical projects. Once you have established a sequence of actions, executors will perform fewer actions and make fewer mistakes.

When you create a project, its template is used to automatically create the project plan, budget, roles, documents structure and manager’s workplace. You only have to enter some data, specific for this particular project.

Project template

Fig. 2. Project template in the Projects+ application

ELMA developed a concept, called Project Conveyor. Its main advantage is that you do not have to create projects from scratch each time, which is a lot of work. With business processes, you can organize control of a conveyor of projects.

Consider an example. Project budget approval is a standard procedure for any project. This procedure includes the same actions, and the same people have to approve or reject the budget. Unless this process is formalized, it may take much time and unnecessary actions, and cause confusion. Instead of reinventing the wheel every time, you can configure the budget approval process and distribute responsibilities. Afterwards, the procedure follows a proven scenario.

List of tasks

Fig. 3. Task list in ELMA

With the Projects+ application, you can prevent deviations in projects, since the system alarms you on any negative changes. For instance, it warns you, that some projects do not reach their planned values.

The conveyor allows you to monitor at which stage each project is at the moment. This gives you a broad picture on the company. It works like an actual assembly line: if there are too many projects at some stages, it means, that projects have bottlenecks. In other words, there may be some delays or overloaded resources, and it is time to resolve the situation.

Project conveyor

Fig. 4. Project Conveyor

Project Monitoring

Project team members can see the situation on all the aspects, and ELMA automatically informs them on all the changes.

When all the information on the project is in one place, it is easier for the team to make decisions and plan further actions. The project manager has access to the list of project team members, schedule, tasks, messages, budget, documents and risks.

project page

Fig. 5. Project page in the Projects+ application

A project finishes with concluding procedures (releasing resources, preparing reports, calculating costs, etc.) and with registering the experience, gained in the project. Analyzing mistakes, made during the project execution is very important, since it helps avoiding them in the future. With business processes, this information can be distributed to all the relevant departments.

Process Policies

Each project management organization has some standard procedures in their typical projects. These procedures can involve entire project stages or play a supporting role (e.g. overtime request, accident handling). You can automate such procedures by describing them as business processes.

Employees may have ideas on how to improve processes, from which a project can benefit. The system has flexible settings, so you can adjust processes on the spot and check the changes in practice. It provides unlimited capabilities for modeling and improving processes. Once the changes are made, each process participant receives a notification, which allows them to complete their tasks in the ordinary course.

Business process improvement

Fig. 6. Business process improvement

A system with improvable business processes allows you to affect project results at any project phase.

Conclusion

Despite the fact, that a project goal is to achieve a unique result, projects of a particular organization have standard procedures or entire phases. In ELMA, such procedures are implemented as business processes and they prove to be effective. Such approach significantly reduces the time employees spend on tasks execution. Even less experienced employees can quickly figure out how to work in ELMA’s user-friendly interface. Thus, project management becomes automated, tasks are completed in an organized manner and managers can see the current progress.

 
 
 

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Aleksey Trefilov
Aleksey
Trefilov
CEO