The 4castplus team was out in full force at the Advancing Project Controls conference in Houston this past week. This is one of numerous project controls related conferences held throughout the year in various locations around the world.
It was exciting to see how well-attended this conference was and how important the role of project controls is becoming in companies of all descriptions. The majority of delegates we came across were relatively advanced in their knowledge of project controls and clearly embraced the role of technology as a key component of its application. There were a smaller number of delegates that were relatively new to the discipline and were eager to learn. Some individuals and companies were looking for ways to advance and upgrade their software solutions, others were looking for complementary systems to what they have; and others were looking for integration solutions to bind it all together. Following are some key takeaways.
Business Intelligence and data analytics are taking center stage in project controls. For the purposes of investigating and drilling down to identify root causes of issues, schedule overruns and cost overruns. Without reliable, accurate and current data, project controls professionals are in the dark as to what is happening on their project. Good data leads to good decisions, and the right tools to present that data become indispensable.
The use of real-time dashboards is a key component to bringing that data to life as critical in raising awareness to executive and project teams – not in the spirit of pointing fingers but collaborative remediation of issues.
Many companies have expressed their goals to access to and use historical data for estimating and planning current projects. Without the right systems and processes in place, it’s become very difficult to get clean and accurate data, and then it’s hard to get it out of systems. They need to make a move away from having teams of developers building reports (manually or through BI tools) and adopting software systems designed for this type of rich reporting and analysis.
Earned Value was presented as still alive and relevant; however, it is getting more and more collaborative and based on trust. Teams need to develop a process that aligns expectations.
Another central theme at this year’s conference surrounded the need for creating collaborative cultures as opposed the combative ones. Historically, teams could be guilty of finger-pointing and looking for ways to lay blame. In a more collaborative environment, teams work together to isolate issues and find resolutions.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
A lot of discussion and presentations were had around AI as the next wave of digitization of the jobsite. Mostly via photos and cameras to be used to capture site information thereby having cleaner data available for reporting.
Integrating multiple software systems in a fully connected enterprise solution is becoming a vital initiative for many organizations. Integration is key – how to get all the disparate systems to talk to each other. It has been described as one of the most difficult things bigger companies face.
Mobility on the Jobsite
Not surprisingly, the use of mobile devices is a critical part of how jobsite crews work day-to-day. Capturing everything from timesheet hours, progress, photos, reviewing drawings, etc.