Most project performance professionals will recognize this scenario: you are well into your project, and someone asks for the latest status update. You now contact different team members to get the latest information on actuals, forecasts, schedules and budgets and spend hours collating the information together. By the time it lands in the inbox of the requestor, changes might have already taken place.
Does this sound familiar? The above challenge is common enough with many organizations and often results from the lack of integrated project controls software. In this blog, we’ll discuss the key reasons why every project professional needs project control software in this day and age.
What are Project Controls?
Project controls are processes for gathering and analyzing project data to keep costs and schedules on track, including:
- Measuring project status
- Forecasting likely outcomes
- Improving project performance if projected outcomes are unacceptable
Why Do I Need Project Controls Software?
Four key challenges take place when you don’t have project controls software in place:
1. Overall inefficiency
Project controls is the function that analyzes and gathers the data to get costs and schedule on track or back on track. Inefficiency happens when the information is hard to find or inaccurate, or when lots of work is needed to make the information format match the purpose. This time can be spent on better things, like actually managing and controlling the project.
2. Poor control of your projects
Working in a siloed environment with different data sources will stop you from actually controlling your projects. How do you know what is happening if you don’t even know the latest project data? You need processes in place that will help you consistently measure, forecast and improve project performance.
3. Lack of insight
The amount of data captured during a project is increasing. Without access to up-to-date project data, having insights into project performance becomes increasingly difficult. You need to be able to properly leverage data to make the best possible decisions for your project.
4. No predictability
Without insight, there is no predictability – without access to the latest project data, you can’t run what-if scenarios or identify bottlenecks in advance. Too often, issues are identified too late for course correction and project performance suffers.
Consequences of the Status Quo
Without an integrated approach to project controls, these challenges create more profound negative implications. Lack of project controls will harm your financial results and affect how your organization is perceived in the market. Who would want to be known as the company that never delivers on time or on a budget?
The lack of efficiency is a challenge we see across the board – when I talk to potential customers about their project management office (PMO) efficiency, it turns out that around 60% of time is spent on low-value and manual activities, such as importing data, checking data or correcting data structures. After implementing a project control tool, the real value for PMO will be realized in how easy analyzing and forecasting becomes, while visibility, control and predictability are improved.
Another key success for companies that choose project control software is improved employee satisfaction – many clients report that the cost controllers are enjoying their work more when they can spend more time in valuable, highly skilled work.
Getting It Right: The Benefits of Project Controls Software
Next, let’s discuss how to mitigate the challenges above – in other words, why project controls software is essential.
1. Improve efficiency
Adjust your work processes and data flows to integrate with your systems and ensure they match your organization’s work methods. Make sure you have data you can trust, have an overview of where the data is coming from and that everyone knows how to use it.
2. Gain back control of your project
You can regain control over your project by breaking down silos and having digital access to all project data in a single source of truth. By having a consolidated view, you are back in control as you can make decisions based on actual, trustworthy information.
3. Generate better insights
Once you have consolidated your project information, it needs to be presented in an orderly manner. Project controls software enables you to create reports and dashboards that are easy to understand and enable you to take proper actions with confidence.
4. Enhance predictability
With better insights comes better predictability. With project controls software, you can provide better insights and access to data to take early corrective action, which in turn improves project predictability across the project lifecycle.
Conclusion: Solving the Puzzle Will Improve Your Project Performance
My mantra for improving project performance is that you need to feel the pain first, and then you will be ready to change. As long as your team doesn’t perceive the need for change, introducing new ways of working will be difficult. Change is always needed before improvement takes place – retraining of employees and focusing on IT infrastructure and change management is crucial for a successful project control adoption.
Having project control software is essential for success but it is only one piece of the puzzle. In the end, it all comes down to three things: people, processes and technology. When you find the right combination of these three for your organization, your project performance will improve!
Would you like to learn more about how the right project control software combined with standardized processes and trained employees can help you to improve performance? You can visit our interactive experience to compare the experience of two individuals working on priority projects at different companies to discover the difference between the life of someone using an EPP system vs. disconnected tools.
James Tauladan is an experienced sales director and digital transformation leader with 20+ of experience in the fields of engineering, construction and enterprise project performance.