The Critical Importance of Project Management for HR

© Jaros - Fotolia.com
© Jaros - Fotolia.com

Project management allows companies to oversee and forecast completion dates for each phase a project or initiative so they end on time, within budget, and within scale.

Using project management methods and tools, it’s possible to:

  • Identify failing aspects of a project;
  • Track and manage progress;
  • Visualize allocated time and resources.

In the past, project management or task management software was primarily used by large corporations in the software development, IT, or construction industries. This is not surprising since they specialize in large, million dollar projects that can take years to complete.

However, project management is now becoming more commonplace in other industries, such as human resources.

Adopting project management tools and processes

HR applications created to automate payroll or streamline administrative tasks can also lighten the load of transaction-based processes. Simplifying such repetitive tasks allows HR to spend more time focusing on their primary goals, like attracting, developing, and retaining top talent.

As the HR industry continues to grow, many software vendors are adding HR specific features to their offerings. Innovative project management tools allow HR managers to:

  • Lay out the hiring process in detail;
  • Track hiring costs against budget and expectations;
  • Give executives insight into current progress;
  • Establish productivity measurements for their team;
  • Organize feedback on potential hires, outside of email;
  • Tie human costs to actual business results.

Enhancing HR work flow and efficiency

The aim of project management is to make things easier to manage — not to add unneeded complexity.

Here are some common project management features and how they can complement HR endeavors:

1. Planning

The planning phase of project management involves finding the right team members, and forecasting resources.

Most PM software includes timeline visualization that allows users to see their scheduled workload and move tasks around in order of priority. For example, when recruiting for a new position, a hiring manager could visualize each step, and how it fits into the larger goal (such as writing a job description, meeting with the relevant department, etc.).

These tools can streamline workflow by swiftly identifying bottlenecks and seeing where human resources are invested — or missing. HR managers can tell at a glance where candidates are in the hiring process and if their recruitment efforts are on track.

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2. Tracking and management

After a team is assembled and tasks are scheduled, it’s important to track and manage progress to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Time tracking, task management, expense tracking, and reporting tools can all help manage the various aspects of an HR project.

Time tracking data in particular can reveal how everyone is contributing to — or hindering — a project. Establishing a baseline productivity level for employees, based on the average work rate for successful employees, can help HR identify workers who are falling behind.

Such data can also provide support for any warnings or progress meetings that might occur.

3. Collaboration

Document sharing and internal messaging are helpful tools for increasing collaboration. This is especially true during the hiring process. Long past are the days of printing resumes to share with the entire HR department, or even forwarding applicants along via email.

Using collaborative, HR-specific programs, team members can comment on individual applications and save their feedback for future reference. Most PM programs will also group such communication by applicant (or project) so you can easily find it again, without having to dig through mountains of old email threads.

The circle of HR project management

Each of these planning, tracking, management, and collaboration tools are just as important for human resources as they are for other, more traditional project teams.

Tools that facilitate HR project management and success can be as simple as a shared team calendar to visualize deadlines, or as detailed as an integrated talent management system to track recruitment and employee learning efforts.

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