How Your Data Can Help You To Dramatically Improve Your Success
A report into the architecture and engineering (A&E) industry shows that - despite a period of sustained growth - firms are still struggling day-to-day to make their projects work.
Seventy percent of projects are on or under budget. While on the surface that may sound encouraging, that's a drop of five percent from last year's average.
With the same report pointing to intensifying competition across the industry, firms failing to get a grip on their project management could be left vulnerable due to reduced revenue and a lack of repeat business from satisfied customers.
So, what exactly is the 'secret' for keeping projects on track and in the black?
Spot trends, avert risk
Industry sources and top performing firms agree that insight from your firm's historical data holds many clues when it comes to improving project management.
Mike Merritt-Holmes, co-founder of the Big Data Partnership, says: “Project managers can take in historical data from projects and over time use machine-learning to get a risk profile. You can identify flags and start to see trends.”
Data empowers firms to make informed, more strategic project management decisions on a boardroom level as well as in practical terms.
What are the critical steps?
Figuring it out
With the help of a enterprise resource planning system (ERP), you can access and interpret your data as a way of setting meaningful and measurable targets for your firm. These targets will become your key performance indicators - or KPIs - that are in place to gauge your success across a number of measurable areas.
Which areas in particular?
There are many so to demonstrate just a few let's focus on how they can be set to overcome the top three project management challenges facing A&E firms today:
1. Competing priorities
"Sixty three percent of A&E firms believe competing priorities threaten a project's success."
Measuring the time spent completing certain tasks or activities can help you plan out workloads.
If you know, for instance, that meeting time should make up 10% of that allocated to the total project lifecycle, then alarm bells should start to ring if staff exceed this figure.
You could act by reducing face-to-face meet ups with online collaboration tools - a time saving way of staying connected.
Or, if failed past projects show a tendency of being admin heavy time-wise, hire some extra, lower skilled staff to take some pressure off your more skilled, specialist team members.
2. Ineffective project managers
"Fifty two percent of A&E firms struggle with inexperienced project managers."
How can your firm's data help improve your project managers' output?
Analyse past data and set staff performance KPI's. This will help you establish who is delivering and who is not.
From there, see if you can spot any trends - for instance which manager is best suited to which project, which manager requires specific training to bring them up to scratch etc.
The improvement in your workforce will make it worth your while.
3. Ineffective or poorly executed procedures
"Forty three percent of firms believe their procedures are preventing project success."
With carefully considered and realistic KPIs in place, your company's procedures won't hold you back for much longer.
Look carefully at your past data to establish the problem areas of the past - where your projects have failed and how your processes and procedures may be to blame.
You may find an out of date reporting procedure is causing bottlenecks or that your policy for hiring freelancers is costing your firm a fortune.
Either way, the insight you unravel may tell you more about your firm than you expect. Yet you'll be in a good position to decide on the next course of action.
Find out more
Want to know more about the issues facing the A&E industry today and how you compare?