Project Management for Government Consulting Firms

Resource Development Associates, Inc. (RDA)

"Now that we have a standardized process and essential data is instantly available, we're able to work more effectively and efficiently to help county governments deliver essential human services faster and better."
- Senior Operations Manager

Main Challenges

RDA has grown at a steady rate in recent years. As the company expanded the number of employees (from five to 23) as well as its pool of contractors and its physical space, management realized the system they were using to track business activities was becoming increasingly inadequate.

  • Lacked project software to help standardize project management processes
  • Needed a way to quickly pull reports together regarding project management and time spent by employees
  • Lacked a project system to maintain performance standards by accurately tracking tasks, budgets and resource allocation

"We're not a non-profit," declares the senior operations manager. "We contract our services on an hourly basis and take great pride in performing what we said we'd do within the budget allotted." Meeting this performance standard became more challenging as the company required more project management, staff time and resources. They used a system of Excel spreadsheets to track time, project budgets, work plan development and most business operations. A separate software package was used for accounting. "Project managers had their own ways of doing things," the senior operations manager states. "As a result, we had difficulty accurately assessing project status and resource allocation."

Two years ago, RDA's CEO and managing director realized they needed a system to better understand client operations and to analyze data and business performance. Management wanted to make more informed decisions and more accurate business planning forecasting. What was needed was project management software that streamlined all data sources in one place including time tracking, project management, and project development and budgeting. The company hired a consultant to evaluate systems that fit their needs and were within a target price range. Project Insight was recommended because they offered the essential features RDA required at an affordable price.

Why Project Insight

"What we were looking for was value," the senior operations manager says, "so we watched demos and received plenty of information about Project Insight project management software's features and capabilities. Then we put together a plan for how we'd roll it out and train the staff."

  • Customized, real-time reports allowed management to better evaluate project status and shift resources to forestall problems
  • Standardized project management processes transformed systems into a streamlined process that increases efficiency
  • Built-in scalability helped RDA grow, enabling it to help more people in need

Because all project managers would now be using the same project management software, the system effectively standardized the entire process, streamlined operations and allowed people to work more efficiently. Project Insight also made detailed reports instantly accessible to assist in evaluating projects, heading off problems before they became troublesome, and more accurately forecasted future resource and budgetary needs. Management liked the software's scalability. Helping RDA grow meant the company could be even more responsive in providing services to county agencies.

The Results

  • Standardizes work plan development and sets sustained rules to promote efficiency and growth
  • Delivers customized reports in seconds instead of days, allowing project managers to make decisions and solve problems sooner rather than later
  • Improves data collection and displays it at-a-glance for faster, more accurate invoicing

RDA installed Project Insight project management software in 2013. "Initially we saw the software as a way to standardize work plan development and set sustained rules. This allowed us to expand, hire more project managers and become more efficient because of a more consistent way of running operations," the senior operations manager explains. "What really surprised us is the software's reporting capabilities. Under the old system, project managers input data their own way.

As a result, we could spend a week gathering data from various sources to determine what was actually going on, and we couldn't be sure the data gathered was 100 percent reliable. Because we weren't tracking projects in real time, we weren't always sure if they were on schedule, we couldn't identify any projects that were in danger of going over budget, and we didn't always have accurate figures when it came time to invoice." Improved reporting has reduced the amount of time it takes to physically manage administration and oversee projects. And, because so much is done on the front end, the company has higher quality information available when it gets ready to invoice.

Admittedly, RDA is still figuring out Project Insight's project management software's full capacity, such as how to use it for administration and overall organization profitability. "We're not there yet," she says. "For example, the system still isn't synched with accounting. But already it's improved our process immensely." To ensure RDA is getting the most out of their project management software, Project Insight customer service representatives call monthly and as needed to help with any technical questions, guide management through procedures and explain various features so management can extract the software's full benefits.