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Three common project management problems and how to avoid them

Koren Wines

Apr 27, 2021

If you’re a small business that manages projects or jobs, a good cloud-based job management system is an essential part of your business toolkit. It can not only help you track time and manage projects more effectively, but will also give you good visibility over your business profitability. 

Here are three common scenarios that I often see in businesses who work on a project basis, and some advice from Xero Projects and WorkflowMax customers on how they address them with our cloud-based job management tools.

1. Missing out on billable hours and revenue

While spreadsheets can be useful for starting cost estimates, they’re not a great tool for managing projects with many moving parts. 

If your project’s deadlines, costs or scope change, it can be time consuming to update multiple spreadsheets. You can also lose information if team members inadvertently work off old versions. Most importantly, you can miss out on billable hours and revenue, because spreadsheets don’t record how much time each employee is spending on specific tasks. 

Jeff Manson, Director at Studio LBA, helped his architecture firm uncover billable time that they weren’t sufficiently tracking and charging to their clients. 

“We used to manage everything in spreadsheets and missed out on a lot of additional services,” says Jeff. “For example, if a client changed their mind and we had to resubmit planning, the additional work might have been missed on the invoice. Now with WorkflowMax, our team better understands the value of accurately recording time on the right tasks, to make sure we’re charging our clients for all of the work that we do.”

2. No visibility of job profitability and performance

Creating reports from spreadsheets makes it hard to get a good grasp on key information like profitability, write-offs, recoverability, productivity, labour costs and resource management. It can be difficult to compare apples to apples across different jobs, in order to see areas for improvement and complete jobs more efficiently in the future.

Job management software lets you easily track the tasks, time and expenses that go into each project and turn that data into digestible reports. When the right data is at your fingertips, it’s much easier to understand why some projects perform better than others. You also gain insights to improve the way you run your business. 

Trevor Hughes from Asset Management Engineers in Western Australia has been using WorkflowMax for more than five years. 

“We use WorkflowMax for all our job management, from raising jobs, quoting and recording hours by individual job, to tracking work status, pushing invoices through to Xero and tracking profitability,” says Trevor. “The suite of standard and custom reports is second to none, and at the click of a button I have all the information I need for managing our business.” 

3. Manually preparing invoices, quotes and reports

If you’re preparing invoices manually or using separate systems to track time and create invoices, you’re probably spending more time than you’d like aggregating staff hours, project costs and expenses. And if you send invoices by email, then you have to enter payment details into your accounting system, which leaves room for error. 

There’s also the added frustration of knowing that the longer it takes to get your invoices out, the longer you have to wait to get paid. When you use job management software, you’ve got more time and headspace to work on high-value activities for your business, instead of spending hours on administrative tasks.

When Angela Dalton joined Elite Window Solutions as the administration and production manager, she got the team set up on Xero and Xero Projects. 

“The best thing about Xero Projects is that it helps me streamline everything,” says Angela. “I used to spend the whole morning trying to get on top of the day, but with Xero Projects I’m days ahead of myself.” This has allowed Angela to spend more time in the factory with employees, and preempt any problems before they occur.

A better way to manage your jobs

Not sure which job management solution is right for you? You can see a full feature functionality comparison for Xero Projects and WorkflowMax to help decide which will best suit your needs. 

Try Xero Projects as part of a free Xero trial and test out WorkflowMax for free for 14 days to see what you think. You can also see more cloud-based job management app options in the Xero app marketplace.

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