Association for Project Management
Project data analytics: are you ready for disruption?
Blog posted by: Mark Rowland, 19 Jul 2021.
The world is going to look very different in the near future. How do you respond? That question, posed by keynote speaker Martin Paver, set the tone for the APM Planning, Monitoring and Control (PMC) SIG Conference 2021, which focused on how best to use technology.
The future is in your hands, said Paver, CEO and founder of Projecting Success. You need to work out what you need to do personally and within your organisation to adapt to a data and analytics-driven world. “It’s a case of respond or be disrupted. That’s where the market is going.”
A mismatch in perception
He cited the Crossrail project as an example of where PMC can disconnect from reality. In 2018, the team presented what seemed like a very impressive plan, backed up with data. Flash forward to today, and a recent report from the new project team via the National Audit Office revealed that there was no plan for completion – a new plan was needed.
“There was a mismatch between the perception of the planning at the time and the next management team, who thought ‘We need to completely replan’. Through a project control lens, it’s very clear that there’s something we need to do to rectify the situation.”
Paver supplemented that with a personal example from one of his early project management roles, working on an engine and gun upgrade for CVR(T) military vehicles. “Now, 30 years from that programme kicking off, we’re in a situation where there’s a massive overspend and the project is not performing. So this is not a one off.”
This isn’t occurring because project professionals don’t know what they’re doing – there are extremely competent people on these programmes. It’s happening due to systematic issues, and we need good project data analytics in order to tackle them, said Paver.
We need to be bolder
Research by Saïd Business School academics Alex Budzier and Bent Flyvbjerg found that just one in 200 projects delivered on time and on budget. “We need to be bolder. We need to think really, really differently.”
Paver was part of a group of project professionals who spoke to the Public Accounts Committee about the importance of project data. He says that the government is now taking note that project data needs to be better utilised on large projects.
He challenged the notion of project control as it stands, adding that it isn’t fit for purpose and doesn’t address the complexities that will occur on almost every project.
We need to understand the art of the possible when it comes to project data, said Paver. He is working on a 100-strong taskforce in collaboration with APM, which is issuing a guide on how to get started with project data.
The market is getting ready
Organisations such as Highways England have embraced a data-first approach to project management. Analytics platforms such as Forecast and nPlan have received significant investment in recent months. All of this points to a shift towards data-led project and programme management. “The market is now getting ready for the next generation of project controls and project delivery.”
What does this mean for the wider project profession? Paver uses the example of how analytics could be used in healthcare. “Imagine that we can pull the data on 40 hospitals. Each of those hospitals can build on the shoulders of those which have gone before, instead of selecting a different supplier per hospital. We know what is predisposed to variance. We know what the technical challenges have been.
“Collaboration becomes key and data-driven project delivery is front and centre. It’s a fundamental premise: by building on those projects that have come before, we drive up productivity and, most importantly, we can drive up delivery confidence.”
This will change the rules of the market. The organisations that can glean insights from past project delivery data will be the ones to win the work. So how can project professionals embrace this to ensure that they remain competitive? Some of it is very simple and could be introduced quickly, but it needs a vision and a strategy in order to implement it properly, Paver said. Digital and data skills will be needed, as will collaboration.
Above all, it’s about ensuring that project professionals can reach their full potential. Get data analytics right and you will be able to predict the future, said Paver. “The world’s changing, project delivery is changing and this is a massively exciting future.”
You may also be interested in:
- What is project data analytics?
- Project controls: but not as we know it
- The latest issue of Project journal
- The planning, monitoring and control SIG
About the Author
Mark Rowland is a senior writer on the Project editorial team. He has worked as a business journalist and editor for 15 years, and has won awards for his writing and editing. He has also worked in project and product management, overseeing the launch and continuous development of new websites and publications. Project is the official journal of the Association for Project Management (APM).
Latest News from
Association for Project Management
Agile teams and remote working – four ways to make it work30/07/2021 10:20:00
Blog posted by: James Elliott, 28 Jul 2021.
Finalists announced for APM Project Management Awards 202129/07/2021 16:20:00
Association for Project Management (APM), the chartered body for the project profession, has announced the finalists for its annual Project Management Awards, sponsored by RPC UK.
Beware the leader who doesn’t listen and always thinks they are right27/07/2021 10:20:00
Blog posted by: Rita Trehan, 26 Jul 2021.
Business as usual is not an option for a sustainable future26/07/2021 10:20:00
Blog posted by: Steve Crosskey, 22 Jul 2021.
When considering wellbeing do you also consider your behaviour towards others?23/07/2021 16:20:00
Blog posted by: Rosemary Mathews, 21 Jul 2021.
How to master ‘digital body language’ to get more from virtual meetings16/07/2021 10:20:00
Blog posted by: Rima Evans, 15 Jul 2021.
Communication techniques for effective project management15/07/2021 13:20:00
Blog posted by: Kate Palmer, 14 Jul 2021.
Age no barrier to success for APM’s newest Fellow14/07/2021 16:20:00
Thursday, 15 July is World Youth Skills Day. As part of our celebration of young and emerging talent in the project profession, we spoke to Craig Scott, 28, about what becoming a Fellow of APM means to him.