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.
As businesses, families and individuals continue to adjust to their new working arrangements both at work and at home, the whole world is trying to navigate a path forward to getting things opened up, restrictions relaxed, and projects ramped-up again. Thankfully these are all positive signs for those contractors and owners looking to get back to work, as construction projects in most geographies have been deemed as “essential”; and are either still in operation, or are part of the first phase of reopening. Nevertheless, there still remains a great deal of uncertainty as to how this will play out or how successful it will be, so we are all feeling a sense of anxious hopefulness that we can all get our lives back relatively soon. Although many may wish for a rapid return to normal, accompanied with a boom of new activity, this is highly unlikely as the overarching sense of cautiousness will prevail for the foreseeable future.
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.
Mega construction projects withstand a level of complexity like no other. More than ever, organizations are searching for ways to increase efficiencies, reduce costs, increase productivity, collaboration and automation on their construction projects. To achieve this, the project team needs to apply a significant level of rigor in the planning and management of projects and deliver key metrics and projections to all project stakeholders throughout its execution. Calculating a reliable month-over-month forecast requires that the project team has not only done sufficient upfront project planning, but they’re also performing ongoing monitoring, measurement and management of the project in order to produce an accurate report for the project's financial stakeholders.
Approvals are deeply woven into the fabric of any financial software solution, and 4castplus is no exception. The challenge with designing complex, multi-stage approvals workflows however – for key items such as purchase orders, change orders, timesheets, invoices, etc. – is that they can quickly bog things down, and introduce delays as approvals get stuck waiting for individuals to get around to dealing with them. Approvals can drone on and on and keep critical-path items stuck on hold for days or weeks, wasting time and money, if not attended to properly. This is what we refer to as “Approvals Bottlenecks” and they can be a massive drain on the efficient management of project finances.
And bottlenecks can be very bad for business.
Most contractors today exist in a very competitive landscape where margins are tight, and customers are demanding. This leaves them little room for error when executing on projects – otherwise their profits will quickly be eroded, their reputation damaged, and their ability to sustain a healthy, growing company will be severely compromised.
Everyone wants to run a ‘Lean’ operation. But how do you do that when there’s so much work to do, projects to stay on top of, reports to run, etc.? The behavioral challenge most organizations suffer from when it comes to running lean, is what I call the “More means More” syndrome. Put simply, this means: as you grow and get more work, you just add more people to do that work. More work, therefore more people, right? Well, hang on a second.