07 Apr 2020

How Does Data Improve Project Management?

Technology
How Does Data Improve Project Management?


Between 2015 and 2019, there was a $558 million increase in revenue generated from the big data and business analytics market in Australia.

Data can have a significant impact on the outcomes of a project, which is why it’s important for project managers to not only look at data but that they are able to understand the data, so that their clients will get the results they want.
 
While many businesses understand the importance of investing in data science for innovation, not all businesses know how to turn that into business value. So how can project managers leverage data to realise project benefits? Here are some suggestions below.
 
 

1. ASSESSING PROJECT RISKS 

Every project will come with different risks but incorporating data analytics into the project management process allows executives and managers to identify, rank and prioritise those risks in a more informed manner. The following things should be considered when performing a risk analysis:

  • Size and complexity of the project

  • The client’s risk tolerance

  • The competence of the project or risk manager

This will help mitigate the likelihood of risks occurring and predict the possible effects of those risks. It’s important to note that projects should be regularly assessed for risks as projects change or head in a new direction. Conducting regular risk assessments will prevent problems arising later in the project.
 
 

2. FORECASTING THE DATE OF COMPLETION

Data analytics can be used by project managers to watch for early warning signs in terms of budget, schedule and quality, so they can take proactive action. Data can be used to gauge the rate of work so completion of tasks can be predicted.
 
When certain tasks are taking a lot longer, managers can speak to their team to find out if something is blocking their progress or if it has slowed down for other reasons. Insightful analytics can help project managers improve resources and better forecast revenue and costs.
 
 

3. MEASURING SUCCESS

In the past it was hard to measure success other than through sales or voluntary customer data, such as surveys or reviews. Now businesses have the capacity to know more about their customers than ever before through data mining. This allows project managers to sift through large quantities of data to look for trends. Finding useful trends allows project managers to create successful projects.
 
Analysing data also reduces the complexity of projects because the more informed your decisions are the less uncertainty there is. Gathering information is vital to the success of any product and is what drives business decisions. The key to making good business decisions is ensuring the data is relevant. Good project managers are able to see the bigger picture in the data and use it to tell meaningful stories.
 
 

DATA MISTAKES TO AVOID 

An experienced project manager knows the importance of avoiding data mistakes, however for new project managers it can be a daunting task, so here are some common data mistakes to avoid.
 
Collecting irrelevant data: The first question a project manager should ask themselves as they’re looking at data is: “Is this information relevant?”. There’s an immense amount of data available but being able to decipher what data is important to the project at hand is a valuable skill in a project manager.
 
Not acting on the data: Once the relevant data has been collected, a company needs to learn to leverage that data quickly, so they have a competitive edge. Really do your research when dealing with new trends or technology, because if you don’t know how to interpret that data it could be a missed opportunity for your organisation, if you don’t act on it.
 
Failing to communicate: A project manager should be supportive of their team members, monitor the project for any issues that may arise and keep the team on track to deliver tasks on time. The agile method is great for project managers because it allows their client to be informed every step of the way and are able to ensure their team is on track. Anywise Consulting recommends the agile methodology because some of the core communication values allow for greater transparency and frequent communication with clients.
 
Thinking data is only for trained data analysts: Project managers shouldn’t think that just because data analysts are trained to look at data that they are the only ones who can understand it. In fact, working together is much more productive and cohesive, as project managers may be able to spot trends or anomalies from a business perspective that a data analyst may miss. It’s important to collaborate and use each team members’ experience to get the most out of the data.

 

FINAL WORDS 

There are a number of ways data can be useful to project managers, but it needs to be used in the right way. Remember that not all data is relevant and it’s a matter of sifting through it to find trends and information that is useful to your team. Most important of all, good project managers can have the best data available to them but showing support for your team is imperative.

 

This article was written by Annie-Mei Forster, the Media & Communications Specialist at Anywise Consulting.



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