More and more companies are demanding greater visibility into construction project performance. Simply put, companies want to know that funds are being well spent and that their projects are going to run to plan. As a result, increased demands are being made on project controllers to deliver timely and accurate cost and revenue forecasts to help shape business decisions. But hey, you know all about this, don’t you?
Before I get started on the details, I’ll give you a quick definition: A CPI Forecast allows project controls professionals to predict the performance of their project using a subjective CPI value rather than the calculated CPI that’s determined based on past performance.
Cash moves at a different pace than activities. Maybe that seems obvious, or maybe you’re not sure what I’m talking about; but it’s an important distinction to understand in construction project management.
When I first started working in project management, I had envisioned a job where I would spend my days walking around the construction jobsite carrying a big stick (not really) and telling people what to do. That appealed to me because I like organizing things and I get a kick of satisfaction when I see things moving along smoothly. To be honest, I’m actually better at organizing others than I am at organizing myself. You’d only have to take one peek at the disaster in my garage to see that in action. Anyway, the reality of my project management career has been that I’ve spent very little time at the actual jobsite, and most of my time with my face buried into schedules, budgets, cost projections, contracts and approving timesheets. Working with a smaller company managing big-ish projects, I had to learn quickly how to be a lot of things: a scheduler, cost controller, supply chain manager and the boss of a crew of people, all at the same time.
Excel is an amazing tool. It is truly the great multi-purpose software of our time. People can bend and twist spreadsheets to do pretty miraculous things - from planning a children’s party to full enterprise budgeting & forecasting. Like anything, of course, it has its limits. Excel works just fine in many cases, but when it comes to more complex jobs - like estimating, tracking, controlling and analyzing large construction projects – it simply breaks down. People certainly try to force Excel to work in this field, and there’s no question that with enough time, resources and effort, a person could achieve some - rather limited - results. But the truth is, it’s just not worth it. Especially when there are good tools available which are designed specifically for that task.