Project management for financial services: A comprehensive guide

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Finance is a funny thing, isn’t it?

On the one hand, the industry boasts some of the largest, most well-funded businesses in the U.S., U.K., and the world. Transactions so large that the average person can’t comprehend are the norm.

But, on the other hand, day-to-day life at companies in the industry includes many challenges familiar to those in less lofty professions. 

There are arguments about cash flow, balance sheets, and how the heck the next project will ever get finished — or even planned.

Whether you’re a startup financial services firm handling your project management in an Excel spreadsheet or an enterprise with armies of PMI-trained project management professionals, this guide will help you sharpen your approach to project management in finance.

Understanding project management's role in financial services

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Project management is a discipline that exists in all sorts of industries. But even though the day-to-day frameworks and processes are the same — planning, organizing, and managing the execution of all components of a project — both the big picture and the details will look different for financial services.

Financial services firms deal with complex regulations and highly sensitive client financial data. Additionally, the sorts of projects undertaken in this industry are high-stakes, often involving large amounts of money or complex transactions that must occur without mistakes or errors.

Regulation is an especially important difference: Project managers in finance must ensure that all actions and activities remain compliant, whereas their non-regulated counterparts (like in construction or marketing) are more free to make their project management decisions without these concerns. 

Who's involved in financial project management?

The cast of characters in financial project management will include people across a wide range of teams. The specific people and roles will vary depending on the exact nature of the project. However, everyone involved in the project will fall into one of three categories: project manager, team member, or stakeholder.

Project managers

Project managers oversee the project in every aspect: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, managing, and finishing or closing the project. It’s the project manager who keeps projects running on time and within budget. Project managers also break down complex projects into sequences of tasks, which are then mapped out on a project timeline and formed into a cohesive project schedule.

The project manager doesn't do the work of the project. Instead, the project manager handles the who, what, where, and when, assigning tasks to team members and tracking progress.

The project manager also interfaces with the project stakeholders — we’ll get to them in a moment.

Team members

Whatever your project looks like, you’ll likely have project team members from all the disciplines and roles needed to achieve the project. 

Anyone who gets assigned a task during the project (or who will get assigned one later on) is a member of the project team. Each of these professionals brings their own set of skills and industry knowledge to the project, contributing to its overall completion and success.


Stakeholders are any other people who have an interest in the project. They’ll be impacted by its success or failure or some other downstream effect.

Stakeholders can include both those inside your company (internal stakeholders) and others outside the company (external stakeholders). Vendors, clients, customers, and shareholders could all be considered external stakeholders. 

Best practices for managing financial projects

Following these best practices will empower you toward effective project management, helping keep your finance projects on track.

Keep everyone updated

Every project is a swirling constellation of details and data points, and keeping every person on the team (and every stakeholder) up to date with the right information is challenging. Add in the complications of projects in the finance industry, and real-time updates become non-negotiable. 

Effective communication is vital within the team, too. Cross-functional teams need to communicate in ways that may differ from their normal ways of working and communicating. 

A part of the project manager’s job is facilitating this kind of effective communication among team members. Another is modeling it by sending out timely, relevant updates.

Choose the right metrics

Of course, you can send as many updates as you want — but if you don’t include the right information in them, they’re useless.

That’s why project managers must select and monitor the right metrics and project performance KPIs. 

What are the elements that define success for this project, and how can you track them? Make sure you choose metrics that accurately reflect both project health and client satisfaction.

Use the right collaborative tools

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When you’re working with a cross-functional team — especially if your team is virtual, hybrid, distributed, or otherwise not all working in one place at one time — collaboration won’t just happen.

You need the right set of software tools tomake that collaboration possible.

There are plenty of collaboration tools out there, each with its own set of functions and use cases. These can overlap quite a bit and you can definitely have too much of a good thing, so we’re not recommending implementing everything in the list below. But if you aren’t using any of them or are missing core capabilities they include, it could be time to revisit your collaboration strategy.

  • Microsoft Teams: Team-based collaborative work, video conferencing, 1:1 and team chat, file management, and more. Included for Microsoft 365 subscribers

  • Workvivo: Knowledge management, training, social intranet, culture building 

  • Slack: Channel-based communication; ideal for informal teams and smaller projects

  • Project management, project planning, task management, resource planning, budgeting and forecasting, and more. A comprehensive cloud-based project management platform with tools for every part of the project lifecycle

Create milestones and effective schedules

Another best practice for finance project management is creating project milestones that help to break the project down into achievable chunks. Then, build out a schedule — one that’s realistic, feasible, and clear — showing team members how to get from milestone to milestone.

Clear timelines are essential for complex projects with interdependent parts or deliverables. So is tracking project progress so the team can understand the state of the project at a glance. is your ideal home for creating project timelines and performing project tracking. It’s easy for anyone on the project to get an overhead view of project progress, to see where tasks have gotten stuck, and to visualize how the pieces of the puzzle interconnect.

Implementing the right methodology

There are severalproject management methodologies available to the modern project manager, includingSix Sigma, Kanban, Waterfall, Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), Lean,Agile, and Scrum. 

There is no one single right answer to which project management methodology is right in financial services. The nature of the project, the culture of the organization, and the experience of the project manager all play a part. 

Agile methodologies (including Kanban and Scrum) are ideal for software-related projects, where iteration is key and the boundaries of the project may not be fully known at the start. 

On the other hand, the longer, more complex, or more clearly defined the project, the more likely you’ll steer toward a more robust methodology.

Tackling common project management challenges

Project management is an in-demand profession: Harvard Business Review estimates the need for some88 million project managers by 2027. What’s driving this? Part of it is because the challenges that project management can solve are endless. 

But project management itself has its own challenges. Be aware of the following, which commonly pop up in finance project management.

Regulatory compliance

Financial regulations are complex and continually changing, and the cost of violating these regulations can be significant.

Project management ensures that team members complete tasks and follow processes. Though project management is no replacement for a distinct compliance office, the elements enforced by good project management practices are the basis for compliance.

This holds true for other project management approaches, including program project management or the project management office, should your firm be large enough to need a PMO.

Data security

Along the same lines, today’s financial firms must guard data with the utmost integrity. Yet, getting projects done sometimes requires broad access to the right data across departments. Vendors are often in the mix, too. 

Add to this the substantial growth in hybrid and remote work, and there are more points of vulnerability than ever. 

Project management doesn’t play a starring role in data security, but it is a supporting character. By using project management principles and tactics to organize your project and understand the flow of work, you’ll have a better handle on who needs access to what data.

Legacy systems integration

The financial industry relies heavily on dated legacy systems. We could complain about how it shouldn’t be that way, but the fact remains it is that way. And that means any other systems, tools, or software solutions must find a way to integrate with whichever of those old systems they rely on.

Scalability and performance

Many companies in the finance sector are enterprises with massive resource requirements. Simple, lightweight tools that don’t scale well (or at all) might offer exciting or novel functionality. But if they can’t perform at the scale your business needs, they’re going to get in your way more than help you move forward.

In contrast, scalable project management solutions like are suitable for finance businesses of any size and scale because these software solutions scale with your business as it grows.

Tools and technologies to improve efficiency

These tools and technology solutions are powerful ways to improve your business’s project management efficiency.

Project management

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First up is a capable project management software solution. You need a central location for overseeing project progress, managing the project budget, and engaging in resource allocation. 

Project management software like is designed to bring these and other key functions under one roof, giving you a central hub and better visibility. With, financial services firms can do a lot more than manage tasks and assignments. You can leverage detailed reports to keep track of profitability, resource utilization, workloads, and much more. also makes it easy to loop in clients, giving them direct visibility into project progress and facilitating seamless collaboration between your team members and all stakeholders. With dozens of features designed specifically for teams that do client work, can help financial service firms stay on track and maintain constant visibility into project health.

Progress visualization

Speaking of visibility, visual representations of a project’s progress can be powerful motivators, insightful teachers, and effective accountability tools. Gantt charts are one popular way to visualize project schedules and progress. These map out the overallproject timeline along with specific milestones and can even be granular enough to map out individual tasks.

For simpler projects or those following an Agile methodology, several other visuals can be helpful, including:

  • Kanban boards

  • Burn-up charts

  • Burn-down charts

Risk management

Risk management matters in project management generally, but in finance, it typically weighs more heavily into decision-making and planning. Proactively identifying, assessing, and managing potential risks is key.

Anisa Choudhary, writing for theLondon School of Business & Finance, explains how risk management works in project finance:

“It is essential that risk management is the foundation of all project engagement. Generally, the risk manager on site is responsible for ensuring that risk management remains the focus.”

Anisa then goes on to give three steps to risk management:

  1. Risk identification

  2. Risk assessment

  3. Risk quantification


Collaborative platforms like those mentioned earlier (Microsoft Teams, Slack, Workvivo, and help to facilitate communication and document sharing among team members. 

And that’s a big deal for many reasons. 

First, better collaboration means stronger, more accurate work. It also tends to build healthier teams, which tends to improve morale and productivity, which feeds back into work quality. 

Collaboration has the potential to set off a cycle of ongoing benefits that can make a compelling difference.

Issue tracking

Issue tracking logs are common in software and technology projects where they usually capture bugs, unintended behavior, and user experience issues as a piece of software iterates.

Financial institutions rely on and even create their own software, so issue tracking is essential here as well. It can be used outside of software development contexts, too, capturing details about issues that occur during project execution and noting what (if anything) was done to resolve the issue.


Project continuity and compliance require comprehensive documentation. Often,daily reports are a part of this documentation as well as team communication. Software tools for document management and knowledge sharing are key here as a result.

Securing project success in financial services

Managing projects in financial services organizations brings unique challenges, but the best practices, tools, and technologies we’ve shared here will equip you to overcome those challenges and finally secure project success.

It’s time to rein in the project confusion and put your financial projects on a sure footing.See more of what can do for your business now - get started now for free, view our comprehensive pricing plans, or book a demo today.

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