Project management with Blue Ant
Project management can be approached in various ways. The differences in the management of individual projects compared to the management of several projects simultaneously, i.e. multi-project management, are significant.
If your company only has one or two projects to plan and manage in parallel, which run independently of each other anyway, this can still be done manually using Excel or with individual project management tools such as Trello. If, on the other hand, you have to handle a large number of different projects, which also access the same resources, at the same time, it quickly becomes crucial that you always have an overview of all your projects and resources.
How Blue Ant helps you with project planning
Our project management software provides you with a structuring tool to help you organise multi-project management clearly, transparently and efficiently, from the planning to the implementation and evaluation of your projects.
Activities and resource planning
To create a resilient basis for the success of your projects, realistic activity planning and resource planning are especially important. As a multi-project management tool, Blue Ant places special emphasis on this.
In activity planning, you define which activities or tasks are to be done in your project, and which must be completed in order to achieve your overall or intermediate goals. In other words, you define the "what" and also say in which order the activities have to be completed. Resource planning, on the other hand, defines which people, skills or material you need and how long you need them for to bring a project to a successful conclusion.
Plan precisely & stick to the project plan
Often, the same people and their know-how are needed again and again in different projects. So precise planning is indispensable in multi-project management. First define the necessary activities, tasks and the respective time requirements, and only then the required resources (human and material).
Blue Ant gives you a precise overview of where you need a certain person or materials. You immediately recognise where bottlenecks can arise and where longer running times are required because the person or material is already assigned to another project at the time required. This way you can identify and prevent overlaps, delays and negative effects on your projects from the very early stages of your project planning.
When planning your project:
- Don't forget to get the resources you need approved. Only then can you be sure that your plan will work.
- Learn to plan neither too inexactly nor in too much detail. Otherwise you will have to deal with over or under-estimation or with enormous pressure to change your planning.
- Choose the appropriate planning method. If it is important to you that your resources are accurately mapped on a weekly or daily level, use the agile method and plan in sprints at specific intervals. If the dependencies of the tasks and a deadline are particularly important to you, choose classic project planning.
Blue Ant excels in both classic and agile project planning and supports you with:
- Fast creation of projects using project templates
- Linking of activities across projects
- Definition of employee, project or individual cost rates down to activity level
- Centrally managed ToDo lists
- Kanban boards
- Much more
How Blue Ant helps you with project implementation
Blue Ant is also a reliable assistant during the implementation and administration of your projects. This is especially true when assessing whether your planning is in line with reality. Our project management software provides you with various tools and features for this purpose.
With Blue Ant task organisation, you give your team members work packages including deadlines and “ToDos”. Your team members, in turn, report back regularly on whether work has been done on these work packages.
In time planning, you also record the amount of work in order to keep track of the project's progress. Consistency is the key here, so that you have a chance to recognise any imbalance and intervene in at an early stage.
Ad hoc tasks must be completed quickly so that they do not hinder the implementation of other activities. Blue Ant solves this requirement using ToDos, with a reminder function, so that your team members can complete them quickly.
Working with availabilities
To prevent delays, you need up-to-date information on the availability of your staff. This becomes particularly clear in cases of illness. When planning the project, you made assumptions and assumed the optimal case of "everyone healthy". If cases of illness are not communicated and taken into account quickly enough, they can soon become a challenge in the implementation of your projects, throwing your time planning into disarray.
A tried and tested multi-project management tool, Blue Ant ensures that information about absences actually reaches the project management, and can be approved or rejected if required, for example in the case of holidays. In this way, you always have time and resource planning firmly under control.
Manage projects, balance costs
Blue Ant also helps you plan project costs. Your project management can compare the planned expenses (material costs) with the actual costs already incurred at any time, down to the level of individual work packages. You can choose whether the material costs are to be organised using Blue Ant or in an external ERP system. Blue Ant provides you with a variety of suitable interfaces and connectors. With our project management software, you can put this information into a timeline context with just a few clicks and check in no time at all which costs and budgets have been incurred over weeks, months or even over several years.
At this point, Blue Ant's extensive project administration tools become important. In Blue Ant, project management can assign detailed access rights. For example, they can determine which employees or external persons have access to which documents, who is allowed to change values, data and contents, or who is only granted viewing rights.
Ticket management instead of gridlock
Any serious project management tool must be able to support project implementation with practical ticket management. A ticket can be understood as a small task that must be completed at a certain point in time in order to ensure the progress of one or more ongoing projects.
In Blue Ant, tickets are not directly included in the corresponding project. Instead, project management first clarifies the importance of a ticket before deciding how and when a ticket is to be processed further. This avoids congestion and blockages caused by too many small-scale, but in the overall view irrelevant individual tasks in your projects.
Are stand-alone solutions not enough?
If you are now wondering whether it is not enough to connect a ticket system to your basic project management software, first assess your initial situation. Individual, stand-alone software solutions for project management, resource and task organisation can be flexible on their own. However, due to the complexity of your projects and tasks, are you dependent on transferring the data from the different tools into a common, coherent context without having to maintain it separately? If so, isolated solutions quickly become a burden and produce unnecessarily high time and cost expenditures.
As an integrated solution for multi-project management, Blue Ant creates a uniform database for each product and thus provides an overview of resources, capacities, availabilities, pending tasks and more. Since all information is available in a uniformly structured layout, it can be used multiple times for varying perspectives, without you having to enter data three or four times, then manually adjust, condense and analyse it.
How Blue Ant helps you with your project evaluation
Did you know that MS PowerPoint is one of the most popular tools for controlling? The reason is simple: project managers need to communicate figures, data and facts to stakeholders, clients and team leaders who are not involved in the day-to-day business but still need to stay informed.
Blue Ant provides you with the essential figures for your own overview, back-up, coordination with other project managers and the aforementioned unavoidable reports in a particularly fast, simple and secure way. To achieve this, reporting starts at the so-called "single point of truth" - the reliable and centrally stored data within Blue Ant itself. Of course, you can condense this data manually if the "operating altitude" provided is not sufficient for you, but you can do so on the basis of secure data.
You decide which type of evaluation you want: a commercial evaluation in the form of a statement that also serves you as a performance record? Or an ad-hoc report or detailed documentation? Do you need a report on resource utilisation, key figures in tabular form or GANTT diagrams that can be quickly recorded? Blue Ant offers you a wide range of display options and levels of detail for preparing your reports.
Blue Ant can be flexibly integrated and extended
Despite its enormous range of functions, Blue Ant is designed as an open project management tool that has been developed to work together with third-party software. Through our range of add-ons, interfaces and connectors, you can extend Blue Ant according to your requirements.
Blue Ant provides you with a wide range of add-ons, pre-programmed and ready to use. One example is our Jira add-on. This allows you to connect Blue Ant with the ticket tool and to map hybrid project management with these two powerful software solutions. While Blue Ant handles the classic process planning, Jira takes care of the actual implementation of the tasks. Both tools constantly exchange all relevant data. Work-times can also be recorded in order to reliably estimate capacities and effort.
Our add-on for MS Project enables you to export your data from Blue Ant to MS Project, process it there directly, and then to import it back into Blue Ant without any problems.
Blue Ant provides you with the well-known REST and SOAP services, with which you can integrate your own add-ons or functionalities into Blue Ant yourself. For example, you can connect your CRM system to Blue Ant. If the order and the project arrive there first, you create it there and transfer the data to Blue Ant via the interface. Thanks to the tried and tested REST API, the exchange of data, such as work-times, activities, etc., is quick, easy and uncomplicated.
Connectors are powerful tools for companies that do not want to fully automate every data exchange, but still want to avoid manual work to a large extent. They allow you to read or write a variety of data objects from Blue Ant according to previously defined mechanisms. Files are shared between closely linked systems, but you still retain a high degree of flexibility. With connectors, you also avoid the danger of interfaces that are too inflexible, which can cause problems when you change the release of an application, for example.
What is project management?
In simplified terms, project and task management provides methods for planning and controlling projects. In this context, it is also referred to as single project management. In essence, it is about the entire project process and thus about everything from the clarification of the task to the handover of the project result.
There are many different methods: almost everyone who has dealt with this subject has heard of classic, hybrid or agile project management. In essence, however, it still revolves around the tasks of project planning and management - only the paths to the goal are different. Whichever path is right for your company, a professional, sophisticated project management tool will help you to achieve your individual project goals.
Do you need a software tool for your multi-project management?
Project software has become an almost indispensable tool for companies of all sizes. It enables better planning and control of processes, individual project steps and human and financial resources before, during and after a project. But not every project management tool is equally suitable for every company. Are you running several internal and external projects in parallel? Then a free app will quickly reach its limits, even if it would have performed well in a different environment with a different task. So how do you find the best project management software for the tasks in your company?
Since project, portfolio and resource management are mutually dependent and influence each other, a high degree of complexity arises even with a small number of projects and resources. For example, if resource utilisation changes, this affects the strategic planning of the portfolios. Single project management is also affected when looking at time planning. If the completion date of a project is postponed, this changes the resource requirements, but resources may have already been committed elsewhere. A kind of chain reaction develops that now requires a prioritisation and reorganisation of projects at portfolio level.
So, it’s clear why software for managing numerous projects simultaneously is so useful: the data from all areas must interact and be synchronised in one planning tool. Otherwise it becomes disconnected and represents different views of one and the same project landscape. What's more, this data is no longer reliable, because the overall picture required for planning reliability can only be achieved through the interaction of the data.
With the help of multi-project management software, also known as project portfolio management software, this can be accomplished, as long as the solution combines and networks the three sub-areas of project, portfolio and resource management. This often leads to greater complexity when introducing the software, but soon pays off with a coherent project landscape. Everyone is now looking at the same database, albeit from different perspectives. This applies to portfolio management as well as resource and project management.
What does a multi-project management tool need to do?
An optimal software solution for multi-project management must include these three sub-areas in an integrated structure:
- Project management (including program management)
- Portfolio management
- Resource management
In addition, the project management tool should offer the possibility to map information and approval processes across modules. A practical example: if a project staff member wants to apply for leave, this is relevant for resource management and single project management. It can therefore make sense that both the line manager and the project manager are informed about the leave request and have to approve it.
Equally important for the right project management tool: powerful and flexible rights management that reflects the situation in your company. Data management in a complex project landscape requires specific access rights management that must be straightforward and robust.
The contents of the individual data objects are equally important, whether data on the portfolio, projects, activities, to-do lists, information from Gantt charts or work-times from time recording. It should be possible for the user to expand them flexibly in order to meet the specific information requirements of the individual stakeholders. For example, it can be helpful to provide an individual project with key data for asset accounting in order to be able to activate the actual costs of the project quickly and easily when balancing the accounts later. Adding a date property to activities can also help if other deadlines apply in addition to that of scheduling.
And last but not least, easy integration with other applications is also crucial. We can assume that not all data can be recorded directly, but is located in other applications or is needed by other applications at another time. Examples are controlling and accounting software, document management, time recording and task management software.
A reliable exchange of data via interfaces (APIs) and connectors is therefore the key to multi-project management, as is the high quality and topicality of the data from project, portfolio and resource management. For this, the report generator for preparing data in the form of analyses, presentations or reports is a must. And project managers, just like project staff, should be sensitised to this importance of this data.
How do you choose the best project management software for your company?
Multi-project management and task management is too complex to be simply written down and easily handled. Before you start selecting the best project management tool for you, you should once again formulate the functional requirements in concrete terms. What are the mandatory and optional functional and methodological requirements? Simply copying feature overviews from the manufacturers of enterprise resource planning systems (ERP) or project software tools is not enough. This may point you in the direction of a solution that can do a lot. But it does not help you to find the best project management software for your precise needs.
Every good project management tool must have these essential features:
- The core requirements from the three sub-areas of project, portfolio and resource management are in place.
- The administrative core requirements are met. The project software is operated in Germany or Europe (for cloud applications).
- The software has a modern user interface and is user-friendly.
- The planning software can be customised by the user to their own requirements without help from the manufacturer
- The project tool has powerful rights management (can be combined with LDAP and SSO)
- The data objects can be extended by the user without the help of the manufacturer (define own screens and data fields)
- Release and approval workflows can be defined by the user.
- There are interfaces (APIs - REST services) for reading and writing data.
- There are connectors for importing and exporting data, ideally time-controlled, e.g. for budget management or time recording.
- Interfaces to authentication systems (SSO, LDAP) are available.
- There is a report generator for preparing data in the form of analyses, presentations or reports.
- Personal data is stored and anonymised in accordance with the requirements of the GDPR.
Über diese wesentlichen Merkmale muss jedes gute Projektmanagement-Tool verfügen
- Die benötigten Kernanforderungen aus den drei Teilbereichen Projekt-, Portfolio- und Ressourcenmanagement sind vorhanden
- Die administrativen Kernanforderungen werden erfülltDie Projektsoftware wird in Deutschland oder Europa betrieben (bei Cloud-Anwendungen)
- Die Software verfügt über ein modernes User-Interface und ermöglicht ein einfaches Arbeiten
- Die Planungssoftware lässt sich durch den Anwender ohne Hilfe des Herstellers auf die eigenen Anforderungen anpassen
- Das Projekttool verfügt über ein leistungsstarkes Rechtemanagement (kombinierbar mit LDAP und SSO)
- Die Datenobjekte sind durch den Anwender ohne Hilfe des Herstellers erweiterbar (eigene Masken und Datenfelder definieren)
- Freigabe- und Genehmigungs-Workflows können durch den Anwender definiert werden
- Es existieren Schnittstellen (APIs – REST-Services) zum Lesen und Schreiben von Daten
- Es gibt Connectoren für einen, bestenfalls zeitgesteuerten, Datenimport und -export etwa zur Budgetverwaltung oder zur Zeiterfassung
- Schnittstellen zu Authentifizierungssystemen (SSO, LDAP) sind vorhanden
- Es gibt einen Berichtsgenerator zum Aufbereiten von Daten in Form von Analysen, Präsentationen oder Berichten
- Personenbezogene Daten werden gemäß den Vorgaben der DSGVO gespeichert und anonymisiert
What are the risks when selecting a project management tool?
A real risk when selecting a suitable software solution for project management often lies in the formulation of the technical requirements. Either requirements are formulated that do not match the maturity level of the company and thus overtax the later users. Or requirements are formulated that are supposed to cover up the actual problems in project management.
Automation functions are a classic example. The fact that they require a high quality and large quantity of data is often underestimated. Don't fool yourself: every step of the project planning will need this data, as will the project staff!
Many functionalities of the chosen project tool are also interdependent. If you want a complex functionality, you have to use it consistently. If this is not done, it has a negative effect on related functionalities. Resource planning that is accurate to the day only makes sense if there is also daily time recording. If, however, the majority of the project team records project times at the end of the week, it is impossible to control resource utilisation on a daily basis.
So, make sure you have a balanced requirements profile with regard to professional functionalities. In fact, "less is more" at this point. And always bear one thing in mind: even the best project management software cannot replace the project manager. This "gap" can only be solved organisationally and not with technology.
Which project management software matches the size of my company?
The project management planning software you use must fit the size of your company. Complex prioritisation workflows and portfolio considerations are usually more of a burden than a benefit for a company with ten people. Ask the manufacturer about the specific target group; it may also have a specific industry focus. Particularly in small companies, there is often no strict separation of roles in the project team and often one project staff member takes on two or more roles at the same time. So, the requirements for project software are different compared to when you actually have clearly separated roles in the company, as is the case in companies with 50 users or more. Resource approval via workflow may be nice, but it is not efficient when the project member is sitting across from you at your desk.
Is Blue Ant the best project management software for your company?
Blue Ant is geared towards the needs of medium-sized and large mid-sized companies. The core users are companies with 200 to 10,000 employees. Blue Ant focusses on the organisation and management of complex project landscapes with 50 to 500 projects per year. As project software, Blue Ant comprehensively supports all three sub-areas of project management, portfolio management and resource management. All functionalities are coordinated and provide users with a high level of comfort in multi-project management from various perspectives.
The web-based user interface can be used with any mobile device with an internet browser. Visually, Blue Ant has been deliberately designed to be clear and functional, enhancing the user-friendliness of the project management tool. Numerous functionalities are also self-explanatory, so there is no need for extensive training for project staff and project managers.
Cloud and on-premise
Blue Ant is available as a cloud service and as an installed version. There are no functional differences. Only the operation and maintenance of the service are organised differently. The cloud services are operated exclusively in Germany.
Flexibly adaptable on a sound data basis
All parameters of the project management software can be configured by the project staff themselves via the interface. This applies to the rights definitions, the master data, the templates and workflows and the reports. Comprehensive interfaces enable simple and cost-effective integration into existing system landscapes. This ensures the exchange of data with time recording or task management software, for example. The integrated single sign-on also eliminates the need for tedious authentication by password.
The implementation process is very efficient thanks to our administrative flexibility. Within a maximum of three weeks, your project team will have a fully set-up project management tool at its disposal. The migration of existing data and the adaptation of connectors and interfaces is also implemented within a few weeks. With this simple and fast customising, Blue Ant clearly stands out from the offers of other manufacturers, and is perhaps the best project management software for your company for this reason alone!
Establish the requirements for your future project management tool and talk to us!