Deliver projects on time – within budget and scope

Projects are rarely completed on time and within budget, especially with larger projects where companies have disparate systems across the organisation. Although these systems may be working adequately in various areas of the business, the problem is that management has no integrated view.

February 7, 2011

Projects are rarely completed on time and within budget, especially with larger projects where companies have disparate systems across the organisation. Although these systems may be working adequately in various areas of the business, the problem is that management has no integrated view.

According to a Gartner report, only 30 percent of IT projects, once started, never come to a fruitful conclusion. It also found that on average 51 percent of projects exceeded budget by 189 percent, while delivering only 74 percent of the original functionality.

Companies are increasingly relying on software tools to make project information visible and understandable, so that managers and teams can make the up-to-the-minute decisions as an organisation’s internal or external conditions change. Without the right tools there is often massive confusion surrounding projects and it is nearly impossible to manage responsibility, authority and accountability.

Local Enterprise Project Management (EPM) solution provider, UMT Project and Portfolio Management Services South Africa (UMT Consulting SA), has developed world-class tools, integrated risk management methodologies (IRM) and dashboards to ensure projects run on time and within budget.

With the only integrated system in the market today, UMT Consulting SA has developed control systems to demonstrate best practices in the mining and engineering industries. It has the intellectual property and the ability to implement a fully-fledged system that offers industry specific skills and expertise.

Previously, project managers spent up to three hours per day on administration, manually replicating information on various systems. Today, it takes them less than 30 minutes to complete and moreover, it is considerably more accurate with very few errors.

One can now easily create custom views such as Dashboards or Scorecards and reports to gain transparency across all projects, programs, and application portfolios. Information can then be analysed and used in predefined reports or in newly created custom reports to expose project-related information.

UMT Consulting SA CEO Pieter Meyer says project-related financial reporting is done nearly in real time. “Previously, similar data reports were generated from different systems by preference of the project manager. There was no consistency as to which data was used and no guarantee that the data was accurate.”

UMT Consulting SA also offers Project Controls based on Earned Value Management Principles, a sound basis for assessing project progress and performance measurement. It has partnered with Marwillcor Project Control Services (Pty) Ltd, a company that specialises in world-class Project Controls.

Earned Value specialist Sanette Viljoen says Earned Value Management is a proven systematic approach to objectively measure project progress and performance measurement, whilst integrating technical scope, schedule, cost and risk. It forms a crucial part of Project Management when establishing the true status of a project.

“Earned Value Management can be applied to any Life Cycle of a project, to any phase of a project, or, as soon as a scope, budget, schedule and the appropriate milestones have been agreed upon. It is also internationally recommended as a best practice in the latest Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK).”

Viljoen says with Earned Value Management, one can identify under-performance areas as early as the 15 percent Earned Value completion mark. “Corrective action must, however, have been successfully implemented by the 45-50 percent completion mark to have a positive effect on the outcome. After the 45-50 percent Earned Value completion mark there may not be enough unfinished scope to influence the outcome.”

The establishment of an Integrated Project Management Control Office (IPMCO) is the fastest growing concept in project management today and is very important for the effective implementation of projects across mining and engineering. It has been identified as one of the several workable solutions to making better use of existing resources, by getting work to flow horizontally as well as vertically within a company.

Furthermore, IPMCO is a single communication portal with key information for an entire organisation to understand the strategic context, project focus, individual project health and progress made on the project within portfolios. “It is a business solution that brings together all the elements of typical projects including project communication; project progress and overall tracking.”

“It also provides strategic planning; tactical operational decision-making; document management; cost monitoring and tracking; scope management; risk management and mitigation; issue management and workflow; resource capacity management; and detailed project reporting.”

Meyer says the dashboards identify, assess, plan for and control risks. “On mining and engineering projects, the risk management framework needs to play a more prominent role earlier in the life cycle. We understand risk management encompasses the identification and assessment of threats, definition of probabilities and impacts, and the preparation and implementation of risk avoidance and contingency plans.”

“It helps organisations gain visibility, insight, and control across all work, enhances decision-making, improves alignment with business strategy, optimises resource utilisation, and measures and helps increase operational efficiency.”

In addition, a good project management methodology will guide the project through a controlled, well-managed, visible set of activities to achieve the desired results. Worthwhile project management methodologies implement “best practice” principles of project management to deliver successful projects.

Meyer also points to Business Intelligence (BI) solutions as costly and time consuming. “Although BI is regarded by most executives as a business critical tool, there is a new wave linking the value of business intelligence to project portfolio management, assisting executives to make intelligent business decisions. Where traditional BI solutions could take more than 12 months to implement, UMT can now offer more at 30 percent of the time and cost.”

UMT Consulting SA focuses on Project Intelligence by collecting and consolidating relevant data and enabling processes to support management with their decision-making process through dashboard reports, practical day to day collaboration, workflow management and linking project and portfolio management to strategic business value.

Project Intelligence assists executives, middle management and programme managers to consolidate initiatives to make sound business decisions that will save money and deliver maximum value to ensure sustainability.

“Organisations are increasingly managing their activities and processes as projects, ‘projectising’ the business – to closely monitor performance and make better business decisions about the overall work portfolio. By planning and tracking projects with clarity and precision, organisations can respond with greater agility to the demands of a fast-changing business environment,” he says.

He says the performance is measured on whether projects are aligned to the organisation’s business strategy; whether the organisation works on the right projects, whether project resources are allocated optimally, whether projects are completed on schedule and on budget; and whether the organisation’s strategies are executed according to plan.

“Our unique methodology ensures we implement controls, responsibilities and monitoring mechanisms to ensure effectiveness. To realise the benefits of risk management earlier in the lifecycle, we suggest that risk management be implemented in a project management controls environment which would assist with project management control reporting and budget metrics. Risk management’s pure function is to reduce the risk exposure of the projects within the organisation and as a consequence, improves the overall health of any project,” he explains.

UMT Consulting SA has trusted dashboards to control projects, they are easily accessible and user friendly and more importantly, they are 80 percent ‘plug ‘n play’. Companies can now manage projects proactively, rather than reactively, and can have full control over scope, time and cost with realtime reports.