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Consistency is key for data analytics and project success

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Time and again we come across numerous articles, speeches and blogs on the transformations that project data analytics (PDA) could bring to delivering projects. There is no doubt in this as long as the nuances of data capturing are thoroughly developed and implemented consistently across the project profession.

Most of the information that is available on the benefits of PDA tends to ignore data capturing consistency and its importance is often missed out.

‘Rubbish data in is rubbish data out’ is a phrase that's commonly referenced by many who believe that the PDA life cycle is not meticulously developed. Having said that, I believe that project data analytics, reporting and the associated results can be well managed through appropriate software and skilled professionals. The remaining grey area is around consistency in ‘data capturing’.

To better understand this, let’s assume that PDA is education. We all know the importance of education and agree that it’s a pivotal part to our learning. Similarly PDA is vital to our understanding of projects; it’s the next big thing. When we think in this context then:

  • Schools = PDA training centres
  • Trained teachers = highly skilled PDA practitioners and data scientists
  • Good sources i.e. books = lots of software and data related applications
  • Curriculum = consistent data capturing templates

A curriculum is important because it imposes a level of discipline and if that isn’t followed, your path to education, or project data analytics in this parallel, could be haphazard. Lack of consistency when capturing data can create a skew or inaccuracy in the results and hence any reliance on that data to make decisions could pose challenges.

In a blog written by Martin Paver CEO of Projecting Success, he shares that “we’ve been working with the construction and oil and gas sectors to develop the concept of a data trust: a facility that enables us to securely pool data for the benefit of the collective.”

This construction data trust is formed of multiple construction companies who have pledged support and cooperation in data sharing. This is a vital step in improving projects, and more sectors should consider creating a data trust or data sharing programme. But it potentially leaves us with question of consistency in data capturing. Are all the organisations who share data, capturing it in the same way?

I have developed, monitored and reviewed multiple programmes and often look back at the data and actuals to develop plans for new programmes I work on. At the moment, using historic data to develop a programme is taken with a pinch of salt because in most cases one size doesn’t fit all.

There could be various parameters, situations and incidence changes that impacts the data we are using - which may not always be relevant for the project that you are using this data on. 

For instance, a piling operation on open ground with no site restriction could be much faster compared to a piling operation in a marine environment in the winter season. If we use the data from one environment, to plan and manage a project in a different environment, it can cause issues and incorrect analyses. This is why we must ensure we have the right set of data parameters captured; it’s very important to standardise a data capture template across the industry. 

Data analytics can help projects perform better; data that is fed into AI can help improve problem solving for example. If, as an industry we could come together and develop templates, which are consistent to capture data, we could enable even more project success.

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  1. Ritchie Somerville
    Ritchie Somerville 23 February 2023, 01:43 PM

    Shared Data Havens are increasingly common in Health and in industry/academia work. Agreeing the trusted Data Processor on behalf of all the Data Owners is the current leading challenge to this way of working.

  2. Bhargav Ganti
    Bhargav Ganti 27 February 2023, 05:19 PM

    Well said Ritchie. This is where all the Organisations should pledge to share their data with the Construction Data Trust which can be complie them together. Exactly whilst this change is happening in the industry, its important to standardize the data template I was talking about to avoid wasting time in data sorting once we have a huge pile.

  3. Ashok Singha
    Ashok Singha 24 February 2023, 02:36 PM

    Really nice article, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Talking more specifically with free AI platforms like ChattGPT, could we leverage such platforms to help PM's draft reports and save substantial time producing reports for our directors? What I am saying is we can feed the key critical data into some chat AI engine and it produces a draft report for us. Obviously we as Managers need to review and make changes as needed. But I believe would save hours in drafting reports over the week. What's your take on such an approach to allowing AI to help us in project management I know lots of coders are using ChatGPT to help them write sections of coding which they check and then use in other own bodies of text. This is one level up from posting a question in the coding forum to get a response a few days later to help with your coding need. I am excited and scared at the same time, as I begin to realise what simple Chat GPT platforms can do for us. We are on the first step of this AI revolution. The direction we push it could decide if its good or bad for the Human

  4. Bhargav Ganti
    Bhargav Ganti 27 February 2023, 05:25 PM

    Thanks Ashok for your comments. I totally agree that being in the seed stage of this AI revoulution, its a mixed feeling of what it can assist us with Vs what is at stake for us. So long as the AI platform commits to having the data secure, I dont think organisations would shy off using them. Its only a matter of who goes first !