Good data is the foundation of a smoothly-run project
Access to good quality data is a core part of project management. Good data leads to good business decisions, and is one of the key elements of running a project. Having access to the right data at the right time makes it possible to schedule work, increase efficiency, control costs, make budget decisions, allocate resources, and manage risks; all core parts of a smoothly-run project.
The critical point is that the data should be actionable. The project manager needs to be able to use the data to make decisions or change elements of the project. If the data doesn’t lead to action, then it is not performing its primary function.
Good data forms the bedrock of project management
Actionable data is not one specific type of information, but rather is information that is accessible, usable, understandable, and able to be analyzed. What could this look like in the context of project management?
If the project manager spots potential issues to project delivery in the data collected (for example staff shortages at a contractor, bad weather forecasts, a problem with the supply chain) then they can use that information to make decisions about the forecasts and schedule.
This helps reduce the overall risk to a project by foreseeing issues and building them into the schedule rather than facing slippages at a later date, as well as building into the budget in the form of contingency.
An understanding of the schedules, challenges, and overruns from previous projects can provide insight into likely performance in a current project. Having access to a bank of information showing whether resources were under- or over-utilized in other, similar projects can give useful context when considering how to deal with current challenges.
This can again reduce the risk to the schedule and budget by using a data-based approach to forecasting.
A useful process to undertake as part of any project is an exercise to analyze the efficiency (or otherwise) of organizational processes. This can help shine a light on how the project team and stakeholders can better interact and communicate, and can identify whether changes need to be made to help the project run more smoothly. Good data is needed to enable this process and to produce robust conclusions at the end.
It’s key that the exercise makes clear recommendations for improvement, as these recommendations become actionable insights in their own right which the project manager can use to drive change.
BI analysis can examine the efficiency of an organization or process
Comprehensive financial data
Complete, up-to-date financial data gives the ability to understand the resourcing position for the project. This data can inform the project team about things such as the budget spent to date, the costs of individual project elements, and the profiled budget going forward, and may take various forms including infographics, database extracts, or spreadsheets; as discussed in our recent Project Reporting Essentials article, the format of information like this should be chosen to suit the audience.
The benefit of good financial data is visibility of elements which might pose a risk to delivery, such as potential overspends or a mismatch between resource requirements and availability. Without this visibility the project manager is operating partially blind, and lacks the ability to alter the forecasts and consequently the schedule.
While it’s not a piece of data in its own right, the ability for all project team members and stakeholders to access data instantly from anywhere in the world is a fundamental advantage within a project environment. It’s for this reason that many construction industry projects are moving to the cloud for their data storage and hosting, as the risks caused by poor data control, data loss or corruption, or out-of-date information are vastly reduced.
Having these complete datasets available in the cloud can therefore improve the quality of the data, which in turn leads to better decision-making stemming from access to current and accurate data.
Good quality, actionable data has clear benefits for project management
It stands to reason that access to the best data possible is desirable within a project. Construction projects are frequently very large and complex and may operate across multiple sites or even multiple time-zones; the ability to access accurate, timely, actionable data makes the process of managing these projects much more effective.
Our highly-trained staff have years of expertise improving the quality and completeness of data within projects, as well as providing a voice of experience in project management. We are always happy to discuss your own particular requirements, and can help you realize the benefits of better data in your own project environment.