In project-based businesses, projects can, and do, change very quickly. Between budget adjustments, evolving staffing requirements and customer requests, it can be a challenge to track project status, forecast revenue and ensure projects remain profitable. That’s especially true if you run reports and monitor project benchmarks(opens in new tab) from spreadsheets and discrete systems that handle different aspects of a project.
Vital project reporting information needs to be consolidated for easier consumption, readily available and updated in real time so project teams can make better informed decisions on resources, budgets and billing, and to correct or navigate any changes so that projects are delivered on time and on budget.
4 Common Problems Services Companies Face with Project Reporting
Unfortunately, many services-based businesses are still managing projects with spreadsheets and disconnected systems. Their project reporting suffers in the following ways.
- Information silos prevent organizational cohesion. Data housed in spreadsheets and disconnected systems—like solutions for time and expense tracking, project management or financials—can make project reporting convoluted. There is no centralized location to keep all information so that it can be distributed to the other areas of the organization. This siloed project data and lack of organizational cohesion creates a narrow view of the project as a whole and can introduce inefficiency, like duplicate data entry work and the extra administrative tasks, that is needed to accurately build comprehensive reports.
This inefficiency can extend to collaboration within a project team. If leadership has assigned only a narrow set of subject matter experts to lead a project initiative, disconnected systems can prevent the flow of critical project information between the experts and other resources working the project, which ultimately decreases operational efficiency. For example, a cross-functional team may not gain an accurate picture of project workflows, phases and project status, leading to poor resource management and skills tracking(opens in new tab).
- Manual processes delay project reporting, lead to errors. When manual processes rule your project workflow, it becomes a drag on project efficiency. Using spreadsheets is the biggest culprit here; doing so increases the risk of making errors, and it’s time consuming. Without automated project workflows, every time there is an update to the project, the project manager has to update project financials and other project teams to ensure the project status is accurate. Further, this delays tasks like time and expense tracking or generating a Gantt chart from a spreadsheet.
The rest of the project team could be working from old data, which could lead to over-allocating resources, underreporting profits and revenue recognition issues.
- Dated information impacts project delivery. Project data needs to be up to date. In fact, project managers often need to be able to see information in real time. For example, if the project is only updated by the project manager on a semi-weekly basis, a resource waiting to work on an implementation segment of the project may not be notified until much later in the week, wasting those resources and delaying the completion of the project.
- Poor project portfolio visibility. Difficulty connecting project activity with your company’s financial data can significantly impact project profitability. Project managers rely on project reporting to accurately bill customers and report revenue. If systems are disconnected from the business’ financials or run from separate spreadsheets, the project managers will not have an accurate way to understand whether the project is meeting the goals and revenues targets set by the organization. For example, they would have trouble monitoring utilization and billing forecasts, understanding backlogs and viewing timesheet status.
Improve Project Performance with Real-time Dashboards and Centralized Data
When all project and financial data is centralized in a single solution, organizations can maximize profits and create greater operational efficiency. This improves project collaboration and ensures that every stakeholder has the needed visibility into the team and project. Project managers can monitor and manage revenue, expenses and profitability more efficiently over the life of the project. For example, by capturing project costs (i.e., wages, resource costs, billing rate) in one centralized location, project managers can make the necessary changes to ensure projects stay profitable. With that data, companies can then turn to robust reporting and analytics tools, which more quickly and easily deliver insights that previous cumbersome reporting efforts, freeing up time for employees and improving margins.
NetSuite project reporting and analytics(opens in new tab) deliver a real-time view into your services organization’s project and financial performance. Service-centric businesses gain visibility into areas like project profitability with easy-to-read graphs and reports, better insights into revenue and forecasts, and improve budget accuracy. Because project and financial data are connected within NetSuite, businesses can also set standardized billing rules at the beginning of the project for better efficiency.
Dashboards have become a vital tool for project visibility. NetSuite project reporting delivers the needed data to dashboards(opens in new tab) so that management can view key performance indicators (KPIs) with up-to-the-minute results. These dashboards bring information from across the system into one place so that project managers can view their projects at a glance and take proactive steps to correct any problems. With the added functionality of NetSuite’s new Project 360 dashboard, project managers can more effectively monitor, report and analyze overall project performance to make data-driven decisions and adjust projects as needed for more efficiency and profitability.
To see NetSuite project reporting in action and to learn more about Project 360, register(opens in new tab) for the Suite Fundamentals product demo webinar and learn about NetSuite 2022 Release 1’s features for services companies(opens in new tab).