The economic pressures government agencies feel from the uncertainty of budget cuts, real-time shut downs, and sequestration affects every part of an organization. The Project Management Office (PMO) is no exception. In a recent blog post, I discussed a new approach, Project Intelligence (PI), which seeks to improve project execution by providing project managers with more information to make informed decisions. PI combines modeling tools used in Business Intelligence to forecast projects with the understanding of Emotional Intelligence for managing people.
According to the Oracle white paper, Project Intelligence is built off four main pillars:
- Actively use historical data to forecast project cycles
- Understand the intricacies of complex projects
- Enhance social and emotional intelligence in projects
- Actively use Business intelligence tools
The first pillar, actively use historical data to forecast project cycles, is at the heart of the Project Intelligence approach. For any project, from trying a new recipe to a huge 5 billion government project, it is essential to look at past performance. What worked and what didn’t work? How long did each stage take? Did you use the full allotment of resources or go over? Analyzing historical project data helps to understand and forecast future projects. Having this data is the easy part. Analyzing and using it effectively is another story. Project managers must have the proper tools to effectively leverage historical data and turn it into actionable information for future projects.
The second pillar is to understand the intricacies of complex projects. There are two main challenges project managers face as they attempt to successfully complete a project. The first is that most organizations do not apply (or stick to) a strict set of rules on project resources. Without a firm understanding of what resources (staff, budget etc) are dedicated to each project, people will always ask for more- more money, more time, more resources. Not surprisingly, this leads to missed deadlines and more work, which only worsens as the project complexity increases.
The second major challenge is that over time projects have become more complex. This means “the same old same old” won’t work because projects are larger, involve more people, and cost more money. For example, according to one agency highlighted in the white paper, in a recent two-year timeframe their number of projects increased ten-fold and that the budgets of some these projects increased from $50 million to $5 billion. Furthermore, in a recent PMI study, 84% of evaluated projects were considered “mission critical.” Understanding these challenges and the complexity of government projects is important to realizing that PMOs must think and operate differently to be effective.
The third pillar suggests organizations enhance social and emotional intelligence in projects. Successful projects start with the right people, with the right skills. According to the white paper, successful programs often stem from the “intangible success factors” such as agility, active executive support and stakeholder engagement. These factors correlate to the pillars of Emotional and Social Intelligence. They are important competencies as they increase self-awareness and help address the unpredictable human factor that often disrupts projects. According to the white paper, people with these competencies are “good at self-assessing which leads to a better understanding of one’s role in a team, including personal weaknesses, and intuitive sensing of the social undercurrents of a group.” Knowing your weaknesses enable individuals to work better as a unit, which benefits larger, more complex projects that require a lot more time and energy.
The fourth pillar is actively use Business intelligence tools. As discussed above, it is important to analyze historical data to forecast future projects. However, the right tools need to be in place to do this. Business Intelligence involves the use of data mining and modeling tools to see patterns in your data and therefore, make smarter, more data-driven decisions. Although agencies struggle to invest more in BI, because of all the past investments, it can create value, mitigate risk and help improve decision-making. Furthermore, reporting performance metrics in real-time helps keep the project on time and everyone in the loop.
There is a lot of great information about the importance of project intelligence and why it is important going forward as projects become increasingly more complex. I encourage you to download the free report here.
Are you doing any of these in your organization? How are you leveraging historical data to forecast projects?
Oracle’s Primavera provides enterprise investment management technology that allows government agencies to propose, plan, and control investments that present the greatest value to both the agencies and the public they serve. With Primavera enterprise project portfolio management solutions, national and local governments can effectively manage time, costs, resources, contracts, and changes to all types of projects or programs—including management of IT investments, grants, military systems, capital facility projects, maintenance and improvement programs, and more. Learn more here.