Project Managers Need Project Control Analysts with Strong Communication and Collaboration Skills
The success of your government contracts requires a holistic analysis of their performance and what’s needed on a daily, monthly, and quarterly basis, both from a contractual and financial standpoint. Government contractors handle this challenge in different ways depending on the contract and the fee being earned.
Traditionally, managing the financial success of a contract meant having a strong project manager (PM) who focused solely on project execution. To keep a project on track financially, the PM met monthly with a contract administrator from the finance team so the administrator could ensure that the PM was operating within specific cost boundaries and profit margins.
In today’s government contracting world, that model is no longer prevalent. Instead, PMs are taking on the entirety of project management, including the financial aspects. However, because most are not experts in finance, they need help. This post focuses on helping today’s PMs succeed in their growing financial responsibilities. (Although please remember PROPRICER is not an accounting system.)
Understanding the Modern Project Manager
Project managers have always served as the technical authority and primary interface to the government customer throughout the life of a contract, and that hasn’t changed. Now, unfortunately, they often lack the support of a contract administrator for measuring and forecasting project profitability due to a shrinking workforce. PMs are responsible for the overall health of their programs, from both contractual performance and financial standpoints, so they need a solid grasp of financial concepts that include contract types, fee structures, methods for budgeting accuracy, and rate setting.
Helping PMs with a Project Control Analyst
With PMs having so much responsibility and your success hinging on their effectiveness, it’s unwise to leave them unassisted in finance. This need has created the increasingly popular role of project control analyst (also called program control analyst).
It’s common for projects to provide direct funding for a project control analyst, with the analyst reporting directly to the PM; we often see contractors assigning project control analysts with the necessary financial acumen.
Not Just Any Analyst
Unfortunately, many project control analysts lack the communication and team-building skills to make a project run smoothly, and such skills are rarely considered requirements when the analysts are assigned.
To truly support your PMs, you need project control analysts who can perform the tasks of an accountant, contract administrator, and payroll analyst while being comfortable with government budgeting and reporting requirements. In addition, they must bridge the communication gaps between your project team and backend accounting/contracts/finance/payroll teams to ensure project-specific financial measurements and reporting align with how backend functions work. When project teams and backend functions aren’t synchronized, your project reporting and budgeting will be untimely and/or inaccurate. Everyone’s goals are the same, but poor communication leaves things ‘lost in translation.’
An experienced communicator establishes practices and responsibilities to make everything run smoothly. Your project control analysts should be comfortable with practices that ensure smooth frontend-backend collaboration:
- Define individual/team roles
- Communicate expectations for individuals/teams
- Facilitate meetings early and often, starting at contract setup and continuing through monthly reporting
- Cross-train people to enable tighter integration and understanding of the big picture
- Define policies and procedures
- Encourage open communication
As the project control analyst evaluates roles and responsibilities, several questions need answering. This list should set your project control analysts down the right path:
- How do the due dates for customer reporting align with our accounting month close?
- Who’s responsible for timesheet changes?
- Do actual rates apply to my project?
- Have I provided backend teams with the rationale behind customer demands (e.g., cost projections for the next quarter and following fiscal year cost projections)?
- How do we account for variations between an invoice and its associated cost report?
- How will award fees accrue?
- Are we reporting according to DCAA requirements?
PROPRICER's New Software Release
Pricing and procurement and the organizing of proposal teams are key to building and managing accurate pricing proposal infrastructure. PROPRICER’s new release of the 9.3 build 104 is the most up-to-date iteration of our user-driven pricing software. The newest software enhancements make the pricing proposal process easier and more effective.
The new PROPRICER version 9.3.104 enhancements include:
- Data view (now available in Contractor Edition)
- Rate card adjustments (added to Services and Small Business Services Editions)
- Section B report (added to Services and Small Business Services Editions)
- Summary field mapping
Miscommunications about policies, procedures, pricing, roles, and responsibilities can weigh heavily against a project’s success and profitability. To support your PMs, assign project control analysts comfortable with taking control of more than financial analysis.
For more information about project management and supporting your project managers, please contact us.