Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The project ecosystem

Projects evolve, are configured, then executed, and finally completed within a set of company or agency’s business processes. Whether well-defined or not, all of the processes involved in a project combine to define the project’s ecosystem. This post discusses traits of project ecosystems that are common today and discusses how a better, more integrated ecosystem leads to consistent success in project completions.

A review: Inefficient processes in current project ecosystems

We have all been there: Project or turnaround meetings with 40 or 50 or more attendees. Think about that for a moment. Is a two or three hour meeting with this many people really productive?

Sure, the attendees represent key stakeholders and team members such as contractors, managers, field supervision, etc.

But what happens after such meetings?

Data is distributed in hard copy spreadsheets, emails, and documents. People return to their cubes and work on their isolated islands of data: Contractors go back to their standalone schedules and spreadsheets. Planners return to their ERPs and spreadsheets. Cost analysts return to their spreadsheets and presentations. Superintendents and foremen return to their printed spreadsheet-based work lists and timesheets. Inspectors return to their inspection systems or spreadsheets. Operations returns to their process management systems. Safety returns to maintaining their safety data, often in spreadsheets. Each attendee then spends time keeping their paper and digital files up to date with project data that should be available to everyone all of the time.

People keep in communication with each other using emails to hold critical information. These emails are lost to the project record. People’s hard disks and shared folders (ex. in Sharepoint) are chock-full of job-site photos stored in folders—which make them just as hard to find later as a page in a filing cabinet—it’s possible, but it’s too time-consuming. Each photo or document that is related to a data item should be easily found when you are reviewing that data item. For example, pictures that were taken in the field—of a job site—should be attached to that job’s work packages and work items and be easily visible to the planner or project manager as required.

Projects and turnarounds require dozens of different deliverables to be produced in a specific order with specific approvals that are based on spending limits for each person and role. Deliverables include: project or turnaround charter; requirements; scope of work; estimates; budgets; change orders; schedule; work orders; purchase orders; contract documents for each contract; timesheets for each day, daily, weekly, and monthly cost; control; and other reports. Team members need to manage all of these deliverables consistently and based on company standards; all projects need to follow similar processes. This is hard to enforce with a spreadsheet-based "dis-organization." Many examples of the lack of connectedness exist within current project ecosystems. Another such example is the inconsistent management of the movement of a project through each project gate to the next project stage.

An integrated project ecosystem

Why, with all of the great data management tools and systems that are available today, can we not have a project ecosystem that ensures that:

  • No data is entered twice—by anyone in any system
  • No data is lost
  • Data is used as often as possible, thus increasing its value
  • All systems are linked into a single vibrant, connected, cost-effective ecosystem

This ecosystem would enable the free flow of data between ERPs, scheduling systems, and CMMSs to be consolidated and presented in a way that makes all of the data actionable. Decision-makers would not hear the commonplace "I’ll have it ready for you in one week" or other similar delaying and progress-diminishing words. When the cash flows in a project or turnaround are $1,000,000 per day, why is the exact data about those flow not available on that day?

An integrated project ecosystem is designed to help PMOs, turnaround management, and maintenance management teams to seamlessly link all of their data islands and processes into a single, effective, time-saving, decision-support system for all stakeholders.

TeamWork Group has built a series of role-based apps and services that function together as a TeamWork Solutions ecosystem that is focused on your specific business and adheres to your specific business rules and also integrates your specific legacy systems and processes.

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