Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions that have been imposed on public gatherings and travel, the 2020 AACE Conference has gone virtual. Attendees can still take advantage of all the presentations, technical sessions and networking opportunities – but this year from their own home office. Of course, we would all love to be there in person, but this year we’re all adapting to the current situation to still deliver high quality content, but in a modified platform. For those who aren’t familiar with the AACE, it is one of the most respected organizations on the planet for promoting the cause of best practices in project controls and cost engineering. They provide a deep wealth of high-quality resources for all areas of project management and project controls to ensure projects are delivered on budget and on time. If you’ve never attended an AACE conference in the past, this may be an ideal opportunity to try it out, as being virtual, there’s no travel involved and the time commitments can be much more flexible.
One of the most basic premises of Data Integrity is to ensure the data in your project cost management system is Current, Accurate and Complete. We talk a lot about getting your project data in real time and how that leads to better decision making and the ability to take early, corrective action on issues as they arise. We also go to great lengths to discuss how the project cost management software can be configured to ensure the highest levels of accuracy upon data input by preconfiguring constraints, tolerances and ranges of acceptable values.
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.
Statistics show that more and more Oil and Gas contractors are moving forward and embracing better technology to streamline their businesses. Contractors in many industries have been a bit late to adopt software as a means to improve their profitability - but that is changing fast. This is partly due to the near-collapse in oil prices that haunted the industry over the past five years; which has recently been creeping up into the $60/bbl range to make things profitable again. During that period, companies had been searching for ways to remain profitable, and many turned to technology such as project cost management solutions to secure that profitability. This momentum is continuing, as companies aren’t prepared to take a risk on another fall in prices.
"Excel just wasn’t designed to do some of the heavy lifting that companies need to do in finance.” So says Paul Hammerman, a business applications analyst at Forrester Research Inc. Despite that generally accepted fact, spreadsheets continue to be widely used as the default tool of choice for managing the finances of construction projects large and small. Most individuals that find themselves in this situation however, would enthusiastically agree that the use of spreadsheets for this level of complexity requires a ridiculous amount of meaningless effort for very little return. Far too much effort is put into getting the data into the spreadsheet – and all the formulas straightened out – that little time is actually spent analyzing that data.
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?
Any organization that executes on major projects will know the importance of gathering information on how far along they are on a project. In other words, evaluating Percent Complete. Evaluating that by activity, by phase, by project, etc. At 4castplus, we refer to this as a "Progress Measurement" and it serves as a critical function for calculating analytics such as Earned Value Management (EVM) metrics. Measuring progress however, is a tricky thing to do; and can cause companies to not bother with it if they don’t have a good system and process in place. This is unfortunate as it is a vital part of project management and project controls on major projects. Without it, you’re flying in the dark.
Project controls professionals can spend endless hours discussing, debating and tweaking the required codes for their project and for good reason; there are so many layers to consider in designing the ‘right’ cost coding system.
Find the Right Cost Coding System for You