Project management is a critical element of any financial business. The processes, coupled with knowledge and experience, helps firms achieve their specific project objectives on-time and on-budget.
However, as remote working initiatives soar in popularity and the digital landscape changes, the finance sector requires a new wave of tools to make project management smarter.
Welcome to Microsoft Project.
What are project management tools?
In a nutshell, project management tools are software that assist your project managers and their teams to organise and manage tasks.
This includes planning and scheduling, collaboration and communication, documentation and evaluation.
Project management tools allow your financial teams to create a workspace where you can:
- Plan and delegate work against workflows and calendars
- Create subfolders and dashboards
- Assign and collaborate on tasks and documents in real-time
On top of this, project management tools allow you to track and assess productivity through useful reports.
Why are they important in the finance sector?
Regardless of the size of your firm, the reality is you’ll likely be working on multiple projects at any one time.
Without a centralised tool, the more people involved in the projects, the more opportunities there are for errors to occur. For your clients, this could result in inconvenient delays. And, for your teams, it could result in lost tasks, a lack of productivity or inaccurate billed hours.
Project management tools let you create a hierarchy of tasks, set deadlines and assign them to the relevant team member. Once you’ve assigned the tasks, your project managers can monitor and manage the progress of individual tasks, as well as the overall project, providing better insights.
Embracing remote-friendly tools
Remote working certainly isn’t a new trend. In fact, in 2020, it has become the ‘new normal’ for many businesses globally.
As well as improving overall employee wellbeing and productivity, home working can also increase cost savings and, in turn, profitability. This can be seen across all industries, as demonstrated by a Gartner survey of 317 Chief Financial Officers (CFOs):
‘CFOs, already under pressure to tightly manage costs, clearly sense an opportunity to realise the cost benefits of a remote workforce. In fact, nearly a quarter of respondents said they will move at least 20 percent of their on-site employees to a permanent remote position.’ - Alexander Bant, practice vice president of research for Gartner Finance
In the finance sector specifically, there are many job roles that can now be managed remotely. Indeed, 90 percent of CFOs state home working would cause minimal disruptions to their accounting close processes, with most activities able to be executed offsite.
However, to create a solid foundation for remote working practices, firms need a project management tool that provides them with the best, most productive work experience.
Fortunately, we have just the ticket. Let’s dive into what Microsoft Project is and the features your firm could benefit from.
What is Microsoft Project 2019?
Microsoft Project is a flexible project management and scheduling software.
It has been in commercial use since the 1980s, although the most recent version was released in 2019. Since its first web-based, then desktop-based applications, Microsoft Project now sits on the Azure cloud.
This online functionality is still a large selling point of Microsoft Project. Its integration with other Microsoft online tools, such as Power BI, provides users with advanced analytics to power decision making from anywhere.
This means, regardless of where your employees are, they can keep on top of projects and important documentation.
9 impressive features of Microsoft Project
What makes Microsoft Project so good for financial firms? There’s a lot of benefits to the project management tool, but here are our 9 favourite features.
1. Quick templates
If you’re new to Microsoft Project and don’t know where to start, don’t panic. The software comes pre-built with a range of templates.
Whether you’re moving office or releasing a new software, the likelihood is there’s a project template to get you started.
2. Simple planning and schedules
Planning and scheduling form the backbone of any financial project.
Microsoft Project helps your users to prioritise tasks, define the activities required for each and then assign them to the relevant team members. It also has a shared team calendar, giving full visibility across your teams. The calendar will send meeting notifications and enable users to sync work schedules.
For financial firms that juggle an array of projects at any one time, this is crucial for organising your time.
3. Complete collaboration
The more people involved in a project, the greater the need for enhanced communication and collaboration. Microsoft Project is the perfect solution for your communication needs.
File sharing across both team members and clients makes documentation more accessible and workflows more efficient. What’s more, you can store client data in Microsoft Project to be referenced or used as required, meaning you’ll never lose track of client tasks again.
4. Visual dashboards
Dashboards are another feature that provide full visibility across teams, offering important information and insights on a project’s progress.
The dashboard feature lets you create customised graphs, charts and other data visualisations to keep your work, tasks and progress organised and easily digestible.
Visual representations are always useful in meetings and can be used as a KPI report.
5. All-encompassing timelines
The timeline view provides a top-down view of each project in its entirety. This allows you to share thorough information with management teams, clients and other stakeholders.
To add further value to this view, you can customise the features to include more data, introduce branding by changing the colours used, and alter the format depending on the way it is being delivered.
6. Streamlined reporting
A critical element of project management is reporting. Reporting allows your firm’s project managers to monitor progress, the volume of work completed and what is left to do.
Microsoft Project allows you to easily create customised reports that meet your requirements. The variety of reports include (but are not limited to): cost overviews; pending tasks; goals achieved; available resources, and an entire project overview.
These reports can not only allow you essential visibility into tasks, it can also help you piece together billable hours and ensure your employees are completing work appropriately.
7. Flexible resource management
Microsoft Project is an extremely flexible tool. This is particularly highlighted when it comes to project availability and resources.
When we say resources, this of course is project-specific, but could relate to allocated budget, materials, or team members to name a few. Microsoft Project allows you to track available resources and assign costs to each, meaning that you can analyse how your most valuable resources are being used.
Microsoft Project is built for mobile experiences and flexible working initiatives.
This means your teams can view, update and work on projects simultaneously, no matter where they are in the world. Additionally, you can build unique desktop and mobile experiences to enable continued productivity on an array of different devices.
9. A secure foundation
Financial firms that deal with large amount of sensitive financial data require secure tools. The last thing you want is your critical data falling into the wrong hands.
Fortunately, Microsoft Project is built on Azure. This enterprise-grade cloud platform comes built with top-of-the-line threat intelligence to ensure your data remains secure.
Power-up your projects
In an increasingly busy and digitalised world, the finance sector needs a secure project management tool they can rely on.
Microsoft Project allows financial firms to maximise the performance of projects and the teams that work on them. Various views, dashboards and reporting mean that project managers can monitor how resources are used and make the required changes to ensure targets are met.