Regardless of the project size or type an organization needs to deliver, reporting the project’s performance and status is a must requirement. The different project stakeholders might have different requirements for monitoring and evaluating how the project is performing but would usually cover aspects that relate to schedule, cost, quality, risk, issues among others. The frequency of performance reporting could vary from weekly or monthly and it could be limited to a specific project, program or portfolio of projects.
Most of those organizations, and in particular those involved in delivering engineering and construction projects, continue to use MS XLS as the platform to provide this performance reporting. MS XLS is used to manually extract the performance data found in the forms used to implement the different project management processes which will become the data source for those reports and dashboards. The performance report is then printed or saved and manually shared with the stakeholders. For those who use data visualization tools like MS Power BI, Qlik, Tableau among others, they will import the MS XLS tables to create, present and share the project’s performance report with the stakeholders.
Nevertheless, the effort spent and time needed to capture, analyze and verify the projects’ performance data needed for those performance reports could be massive. It is estimated that it will take as long as 6 weeks and 500 man-hours to produce the performance report per project. At least, 65% of those spent hours are usually spent by project executives who need to review, analyze, verify and approve the reported performance data. Assuming an average cost of US$ 50 per man-hour, this could cost US$ 300,000 per project per annum. For an organization with a portfolio of 5 ongoing projects, this could jump to as high as US$ 1.5 million per annum.
In addition to this high cost, there is the cost of wasted benefits when using MS XLS to capture projects’ performance data. For example, in addition to the high cost of fraud risk due to the lack of transparency and accountability in captured performance data, there is the high cost of wasted benefits of not gaining the knowledge from storing and analyzing projects’ historical data. For example, if the organization can capture the details of all request for information (RFI) issued across all of their projects for the current and past years, they can analyze the data to identify the most common reasons for RFIs and how to avoid them, respond to them in a better way or use them to generate change orders to adjust the project price and delivery period. The same could apply to the many other data content generated during the project delivery life cycle stages.
How Can Technology Help Us to Work Smarter Not Harder?
Project Management Information System (PMIS) like PMWeb helps organizations to formalize the capturing of projects’ performance data. PMWeb comes ready with most of the everyday forms needed to manage a project including but not limited to request for information, meeting minutes, daily reports, submittals, transmittals, safety incidents, budget, contracts, change orders, progress invoices among many others.
In addition, PMWeb custom form builder allows creating unlimited number of new forms that PMWeb might not have by default. The custom form builder can be used to create non-compliance report, request for inspections, audit reports, permits, executive narrative report among many others. Those input forms can be in English or any other language, Latin or Non-Latin.
Since these forms would have repeated type of data that should be standardized across all forms within a project or even across the complete organization’s portfolio of projects. PMWeb allows creating pre-defined lists of those values not only to ensure consistency and correctness of captured data but also to speed adding this data by the different project team members.
PMWeb security rules will be used to enforce accountability on captured data by setting the right access rights for the different project entities and team members for using those forms. This could include access rights for each form at each project as well as access rights for the fields within the form itself. PMWeb audit trail captures the details of all those users who have accessed PMWeb along with the details of what actions they made and when.
PMWeb customizable online help allows the organization to access an extensive help content that explains how to use each form. When the user clicks on “?”, PMWeb will open the online help manual to provide the needed knowledge. This editable online help can be used by the organization to customize the help manual to align the content with the project management procedures adopted by the organization.
PMWeb document management repository allows the organization to upload the different documents such as drawings, pictures, videos, manuals and others that are usually attached to the above project communication. Folders and subfolders are created to match the project’s filing system structure as well as to limit access for each folder. Document attributes and redline comments can be added to each uploaded document.
To enforce transparency in submitting, reviewing and approving the captured data, PMWeb visual workflow will be used to map those steps for each form. The visual workflow can include branches and conditions to match the level of authorities assigned to each project team member as it relate to reviewing and approving or rejecting project management processes.
All of this captured data will be stored in PMWeb database to provide the real-time content needed for the different performance and status reports needed to monitor and evaluate the projects performance. Tabular and graphical reports as well as dashboards can be designed in the desired form and format. Those web-enabled reports and dashboards will become available for the intended stakeholders anywhere, anytime using any device.
Nevertheless, this is not the only benefit those stakeholders will get but they will be able to drilldown for additional details on the reported performance information all the way to the input form that was the basis for the reported information. This not helps in building trust on what is being reported but also provides the details and links to other records that could be related to the reported information. Of course, filters can be added to those reports to limit the selection of the data being reported on. This provides decision makes with the insight to make better and faster informed decisions.
For those organizations who want to continue monitoring and evaluating projects performance data using data visualization tools like MS Power BI, Qlik, Tableau among others, all those applications can extract PMWeb performance data as long as they have the right access rights for the database. The PMWeb data can be associated with other data sources like those of ERP, accounting, CRM, human resources among others to blend and provide business-wide performance reporting.
Sooner or later, organizations who are involved in delivering projects, and in particular engineering and construction projects need to adopt technology to improve their business bottom line and sustain their business growth if not existence. PMIS technology like PMWeb provides organizations with the proven technology to work smart rather than hard which will enable them to get more from their resources. The high benefits from increased transparency, accountability, real-time single version of the truth reporting and the insight to make better and faster informed decisions will offset the investment needed to adopt PMIS technology. Organizations who have adopted PMIS technology are reporting a return on investment (ROI) in excess of 300%.
So in conclusion, organizations can decide if they want to continue working hard or start working smart and get more out of the resources, financial and manpower, that they have.