What is holding businesses back and how can a single source of truth be achieved?
Imagine a dashboard offering dynamic, accurate reporting data pulled together from systems across the business. Data which can more accurately predict future trends based on reliable past performance data. Data which facilitates comparisons between projects with portfolio-wide reporting best practices. A dashboard which can be accessed at any time with a few clicks. A single source of performance data. Management supported by these kinds of systems and processes will surely prove to make better, more informed decisions and ultimately improve project success!
Effective management should always strive to be proactive, rather than reactive; to deal with issues before they arise, “prevention is better than cure”. Yet, assessing the likelihood and impact of future events is no simple task. Certainly, it would be true to say that management decisions are increasingly being based on data analytics and business are striving to achieve a single source of performance data. However, interpretation of the available data and the decision-makers own intuition are often still pivotal pieces of the decision-making process.
So why don’t all businesses maintain a system which meets these criteria?
The 2019 project controls survey showed that only 33% of respondents have access to a single source of performance data. But is that data source really the full and true picture? For example, less than 10% of survey respondents said their systems were ‘fully integrated’.
Truthfully, given the multi-stakeholder, high-uncertainty, and temporary nature of project-based work, it can be challenging to establish the buy-in and understanding required from all parties. It is certainly worth going through this pain early on in order to reap the maximum benefits because a true picture of project progress will eventually emerge; it is just a question of paying now or paying more later.
A dedicated PMO is a solution for establishing these systems during a project’s transitional periods, but this is not an option for all businesses. For large key projects, a project controls manager is essential for giving project management and director level visibility of the project data and performance. And the earlier these personnel can be involved, the better. Before teams become set into inefficient ways of reporting and before communication breaks down and office politics becomes the norm. Reversing such mindsets is much more challenging than creating the correct approach to reporting from the outset.
So, what might the architecture of such a system look like?
A dedicated planning team who focus on;
- realistic schedule reporting
- baseline management
- the integration of cost and schedule
- the introduction of change with cost, and, potentially, risk into their programmes
Some software packages better lend themselves to the likely reporting requirements than others. Some solutions could be tailored to meet the needs and preferences of your site personnel.
Quantity surveyors who understand their obligations to;
- reporting requirements
- the integration of cost and schedule
- the introduction of cost changes into the programme – whether cost is primarily managed through the same software package as the schedule, or otherwise
A project controls manager at the head of a streamlined process for pulling together data from the various systems and programmes;
- dictating reporting requirements
- monitoring data quality
- eliminating the duplication of reports, and standardising figures
This will lead to a robust, detailed, and reliable report which can be customised to meet any management needs. The final output for this data could be on any number of software packages ranging from Excel, to Acumen Fuse, to Qlikview, or Power BI, as well as other, custom in-house reports. The real valuable output is the reliable data which now backs up these tools.
It is not just a pipe dream for the vast majority of businesses to achieve effective, reliable, integrated project controls. Personnel have the skills to meet the relatively simple reporting requirements – often the only missing ingredient is some direction from above and technical expertise in setting up such systems. In this way, a single source of truth for your business’ project data can be a reality.
If you’d like to know how you can improve project success through a single source of truth for your business, get in touch!