Ashley Miller explores how having access to timely, accurate data can make or break the success of a project
The age-old proverb about finding a needle in a haystack is often applied to less trying problems, problems which would definitely not prove as arduous, laborious or time consuming as finding an actual needle in a real-life haystack. However one area where the proverb really does ring true is when it comes to data. With businesses now more than ever dealing with vast amounts of data on a daily basis, finding not only the right data, but the right data at the right time, can prove to be a seemingly insurmountable task, particularly in the fast-moving and transitory world of project management. But with decision-makers requiring instant, detailed and comprehensive data to underpin key business decisions, a way to find a specific data needle in a giant technological haystack has never been more pressing.
So why is it so difficult to locate the right data when needed? For many businesses, a combination of factors makes data access their own Achilles heel. Firstly, not all data is stored in the same place. Different teams and departments can hold their data close, presiding over silos of information without much desire to share the raw data with others in the business before having interpreted the numbers or put them into a certain ‘context’. Even when such silos of information are made available to the rest of the business, depending on how it’s stored and on what system, it might be that the data still needs to be re-entered into another system to enable it to be amalgamated with other project-crucial information. A myriad of legacy solutions within one organisation can cause severe time delays when it comes to getting the right information to the right people, not to mention the inevitable errors that can occur with the rekeying of data, so once the information is actually made available to all, it’s often out of date or even wrong.
With a great deal of business projects involving numerous departments, people and often locations, the ability to comprehensively control and manage these projects is wholly dependent on having full, unfettered access to accurate, detailed and up-to-date information. This need has led to the development of streamlined business solutions which combine the spreadsheets, databases and legacy systems that are part and parcel of so many businesses, and provide the precise, real-time information that every project needs to succeed. By merging data from CRM, ERP, procurement and project planning, to name but a few, these solutions enable all relevant data to be immediately available without the need for re-entry, data transfer or a time-consuming deep-dive data analysis.
Mobile access and web-based recording makes for real time updates, as well as facilitating the ability to manage numerous locations or sites at any one time. With direct access to crucial data via flexible reports in an instant, such solutions provide the means to constantly and consistently review and evaluate projects, providing an overview of delivery status and a method to track a project against budget, making instant adjustments wherever necessary to stay on budget and on time.
It’s the insight that these solutions afford that’s the proverbial needle in the haystack. Having direct access to the right information at the click of a mouse is invaluable, particularly when it comes to the often finely balanced time and monetary budgets of project managers. This ability to pinpoint precise data in real-time ultimately saves a business both time and money, as well as securing the success of a project from the outset.
What to look for in a solution
- Ease-of-use is a must, particularly if you want individuals and departments to let go of their silos of information.
- Work with an experienced partner, one who knows the right type of solution to suit your particular business needs – one size definitely does not fit all.
- To guarantee real time information and reporting functionality, mobile access is vital.
- The right solution will be comprehensive enough to cover all areas of your project, ensuring 360° project visibility.