ccording to a 2021 study from the Project Management Institute, 12% of projects (globally) result in failures or are considered failed projects. In an earlier research conference paper, some of the most common reasons for project failure were classified under three categories; people, processes, and communications.
More specifically, common problems were ambiguous checkpoints and a lack of communication between teams, project managers, and clients. Therefore, one method to help avoid project failure is using professional service automation for project visibility.
What is project visibility in professional services?
The concept of project visibility might sound obvious at first glance. It’s just clients or team members being able to see what’s going on in a project, right? Not quite, it goes deeper than that.
Project visibility is about how and when important information is shared between all organizations or entities involved with a project. On the surface, that means the project manager sharing progress reports with the client lead—which is certainly part of it.
If we dig deeper, it also means the resource and capacity planners also need to be updated along the way to ensure maximum efficiency for all projects. On top of that, high project visibility means anyone above project managers can see if the project is “healthy” or performing well.
All of this visibility is crucial for being able to use the project data for short-term and long-term future reference. Poor project visibility can make it difficult for resource and capacity managers to plan for future projects, as well as create potentially bad relationships with present clients.
To get into more specific details, next, we’ll show you the benefits of having truly transparent project visibility.
Benefits of project visibility
As outlined above, there are a lot of benefits to having good project visibility. Not just compared to projects without good visibility, but also how it can improve the business overall. Here are six of those main benefits in more detail.
- More trust in client relationships. When it comes to building a professional service business, client relationships are everything.
Without your clients, your business fails. One of the most common problems with failing projects, as mentioned in the research paper earlier is bad communication. Bad communication and visibility lead to mistrust, which inevitably turns into a lost client.
However, you can use the power of great project visibility to excel in your client relationships by regularly sharing project reports with them. You can also involve them in your business marketing by asking them to provide honest testimonials—which in turn helps show your trustworthiness to new clients.
- Better internal communication. When you have high project visibility, you not only have better communication with your clients, but you also have better communication with your internal teams.
High visibility in this manner means your teams are always on top of what’s happening—no one is left out of important information. So when it comes to situations such as a sick team member needing time off, you can easily see how the project has progressed and find the right person in your organization to pick up where the sick member has left off.
You (or a senior management team) will also be able to have much better overviews of ongoing projects, which makes it easier to identify which ones to keep and which to renegotiate or let go.
- The best chance at planning for future projects. As mentioned previously, project managers need to have high project visibility with other internal stakeholders such as resource managers and capacity planners.
When that happens, resource managers can more accurately allocate resources between projects and capacity planners can make better use of data to plan upcoming projects.
High visibility also means that senior-level team members are better able to make decisions about which new projects to take on and which to say “no” or “yes, but you’ll have to wait”.
- Easier to identify risks. Another huge benefit to having high visibility is having the insight needed to identify risks. It’s natural for a lot of people to want to hide mistakes they’ve made, or simply not realize they are making mistakes. In either situation, if the project has high visibility, these mistakes (and potential risks) are easier to identify.
It’s also easier for project managers to alert resource and capacity planners that they’re using more resources than initially expected rather than risk pushing through and end up in a worse situation.
- Less wasted time. When one of the biggest reasons for project failure is bad communication, it’s easy to see that one of the underlying symptoms is wasted time.
Having high project visibility means everyone is on the same page about project updates and can discuss them without delay. Whereas if the project doesn’t have much visibility, stakeholders have to be filled in on what has been happening before being able to make decisions to move forward.
It also means internal team members aren’t wasting time trying to find or access data or other project information—everything they need is on a single dashboard (such as Salesforce Customer 360).
- Great for pulling together success stories through data. The final benefit here is a long-term one. When you have good project visibility across your organization, it makes it easier to gather success stories and highlight supporting data.
Building case studies of customers you’ve helped successfully reach their goals are essential for closing new leads. According to a survey from Forrester, 82% of technology-buying decision-makers said it was “important or very important” for sales reps to have relevant examples or case studies to share with them.
Having case studies at the ready helps justify your rates and business value.
As you can see, these benefits not only help keep your business running but also help to surpass the basics and build better relationships.
Having high visibility should be so ingrained in a professional service business that it’s just “part of the culture”. However, there are a few practical tricks to help you achieve better project visibility.
How to achieve better project visibility using automation
One of the best ways to get better project visibility is to make sure it’s an automatic part of project processes. Why? So you rarely need to think about it—it’s already there.
In this section, we’ll show you some handy practical tips on using automation tools to help boost your project visibility more efficiently, and at scale.
Automate reporting processes
One of the easiest ways to get better project visibility is to automate reporting processes.
You can automate the reporting process which is often the part that can take the longest when trying to do it manually. That way, you only need to spend the time running-through reports with clients, and not actually creating them.
– James Taylor (SEO Consultant)
Automated reporting doesn’t necessarily mean sending out the same report once a week (unless that’s what your client wants). The true power of automated reporting is how you collect and present the data for your reports.
When you have a person manually aggregating project data and building reports, human error is much more likely to occur. They might miss out on a metric the client believes to be important, or cherry-pick data points that mislead clients about the health of the project.
Using Cloud Coach Reporting, you can build and share dashboard reports where data has been captured from every angle of the project.
Of course, that’s on top of the time wasted on putting together a report when they could have been doing more billable work.
Offer real-time visibility tools
Another similar solution to automated fixed-style reporting is to offer your client the ability to see real-time updates in your project management solution.
The apex of client-facing project visibility is letting them have real-time views of their projects with you—seeing the data they want and when they want it. The idea of having client-facing automated real-time project status tools sounds complicated, but it’s actually super simple.
The basic premise is having both an internal and external project view, the latter of which you can share with your clients. Within Cloud Coach, you can achieve this with just a few clicks.
Having a live view of your project can help save time in having project update meetings, but it’s still worth sending project reports for finer detailing.
Build an automated risk, issues, and change request process
When we talk about project failure as a result of poor communication, one of the symptoms is not having proper risk or issue reporting and change request processes.
According to research from PoliteMail, 93% of internal communicators still use email to reach employees. That’s a big problem! The main issue with using email for internal comms is that it creates information and communication silos—not ideal for project visibility.
Instead, you can use an automated ticketing system that captures risks and issues as well as change requests and creates tasks for them to be acknowledged, just like you can in Cloud Coach.
This way, project managers can have an easy-to-view solution for tracking these types of reports.
Implement time tracking
Our final quick automation tip for project visibility is using time tracking with your team members.
Knowing exactly what your team members have been working on and when is crucial for accurately calculating billable hours—as well as figuring out employee utilization rates. By implementing a time tracking solution, you can better understand how your employees are performing on particular projects as well as use that data in project update reports.
Time tracking should be a part of any project process solution, and Cloud Coach is no exception. You can use Cloud Coach to provide your employees with a user-friendly way to capture time, and even use Timecard Genius AI to show what they have worked on but not recorded time on in the week.