A lot of organizations use multiple systems to aid in the delivery of their projects. This makes sense right? Each system is designed for specific purpose and there really is no ‘unicorn’ system out there that does it all from a best-of-breed perspective. So we use multiple systems in order to take advantage of deep functionality, sacrificing the integrated approach. But as a project manager, whose primary job (well one of them anyway) is to make decisions on a daily basis. Well what do you need in order to make a good decision? Data – accurate and lots of it. This post will discuss the importance of why having aggregated project data is important to your organization.
As hinted above, decision-making is a primary responsibility of the project manager and relies on good, accurate information in order to make good decisions. Having all of your project data aggregated to one location allows the project manager (or sponsor) to see everything together to help connect some dots that otherwise would not be connected. Seeing your defect rates rise combined with your resource allocation data might lead the project manager to decide that different or additional resources be allocated to your project. Having to view that data in separate streams of work might not allow the project manager to make that assertion. It’s also very helpful when justifying decisions that also require requests of senior management. When a project manager makes a decision to ask for more funding or schedule, having data to concretely support the request is vital to getting it reviewed and potentially accepted by senior leadership. Having aggregated data certainly helps to put that informaiton package together.
If decision-making is a primary responsibility of the project manager, then communications is task zero. Nothing supercedes communications as the job of a project manager. When working with your team, it’s vitally important that you have the most up to date information at hand based on the current state of the project in order to provide direction, decisions (see above) and coaching to your team. Doubly important to this is when you are working with your customer and answering questions from different perspectives (schedule, budget, quality, risk to name a few) it’s incredibly convenient (not to mention makes you look far more organized) if you’re able to quickly respond with accurate answers to the customer’s questions, again promoting that healtly state of communication.
This to me is the simplest reason for wanting to have aggregated data for your project. For me particularly, I simply don’t have the time (or the knowledge in some cases) to hunt around in various systems for the information I’m looking for. By having a method (wait for my next post about the “how” for aggregating data) to put your data together, you’re giving the project manager and your team the opportunity to go to a single source to get the most up to date information for your project in a quick and efficient manner. It might not seem like much by shaving off say five minutes usually spent hunting around for a piece of information on an open defect, but multiply that by 20 times per day times four team members, that’s a savings of 400 minutes per day. That’s over six hours per day.
Aggregating your project data is something that is not simple to do and requires time and effort in order to get it right. If done properly though, it does make the use of project data a formidable tool in the challenge to deliver your project successfully.