Reports play an important role in monitoring projects. They are needed to ensure compliance and close the books accurately. Key performance indicators (KPI) enable the transition from running smoothly to running quickly and intelligently.
Reports look backward to understand what happened yesterday or last month, but they don’t show goals or how a company is currently performing. They don’t provide insights or foresight to help guide a business decision or deliver pertinent, actionable information to other departments.
When it comes to measuring performance against budgets and schedules, companies need to move beyond reporting and adopt a KPI strategy to understand what’s going on faster and with greater clarity to make better business decisions.
An Integrated, Collaborative Approach
The question is: Will a busy project manager, already under pressure to catch up on budget and schedule overruns, make time to keep track of KPIs?
The answer comes from using sophisticated reporting solutions rather than a pile of manually generated and circulated data spreadsheets. Today’s top reporting and analysis software offers a whole suite of benefits.
First, they can integrate data from any number of sources, including ERP and CRM. Data can even be integrated from suppliers, business partners and external information sources, such as weather reports and market data.
Second, reporting improves collaboration. Old hierarchical structures are giving way to more collaborative ways in which workers are encouraged to share responsibility instead of passing requests and instructions up and down a long chain of command. This makes it easier to get reliable, real-time information from the furthest reaches. This also means more people are aware of the KPIs and the system’s modelling becomes increasingly realistic. Key decision-makers will have more accurate and relevant information to keep jobs on schedule.
Third, these systems automate previously manual processes. While agile business planning relies on up-to-date information from as many sources as possible and collaboration means more people inputting data, the latest tools will automate these processes and be able to input consistent real-time data into custom spreadsheets. This means any decision-makers in the organization, plus business partners and even customers, can see the work in progress if they are permitted. There can be no argument or dissent because everyone is getting the same data in a consistent, agreed-on format.
These systems are nothing new. This is simply the way any construction job should operate with a highly motivated team of workers under experienced and knowledgeable management. However, it is one thing to achieve that level of efficiency in a small family business and quite another to achieve it on the scale of a massive construction project with a churning workforce of hundreds and a shortage of experienced managers.
It takes the very best integrated reporting solutions to rebuild a sense of collaboration, commitment and real-time responsiveness among a project team.
This is the second article in a two-part series on tracking information to increase project success. Click here for part one.