A continuing theme often we hear from our clients is their desire to create standard, repeatable project control processes. Why is this so important? Done right, it:
- Reduces the time and cost to create useful project control data such as proposal basis of estimates (BOEs) or schedule driven time phased budget plans;
- Increases management’s confidence in the project control system to provide relevant, reliable, and timely data;
- Assists project personnel in making informed and proactive decisions;
- Increases consistency in approach so corporate management can do cross-project performance and return on investment (ROI) analysis; and
- Fosters an environment of continuous learning and process improvement because project personnel are leveraging best practice artifacts they can reuse for their project.
Perhaps you have similar goals. Here are three suggestions to help you get started.
Begin with the end in mind.
What do you want to achieve? Can you identify the problem areas in your process and quantify the issues? Using fact-based information can help you determine the root causes and formulate a plan to resolve common problems. Create an executable, step-by-step action plan. Identify ways to measure the results to demonstrate the change in approach has saved time, lowered the cost, simplified a workflow, reduced the need for resources, eliminated rework, or enhanced the value of the data produced. Don’t try to do everything at once. Pick your targets. Build on small successes that can make a difference. Focus on what can simplify things for the proposal team, project manager, control account manager (CAM), or project control team.
Leverage and standardize on tools that support your process.
We touched on this in a previous blog, Still Using Excel for Your Proposal Cost Estimates? With the right tools in place, it makes it easier and faster to create quality data every time – without reinventing the wheel. For example, ProjStream’s BOEMax bidding software makes it easy to establish a library of rate structures, cost estimating relationships, repeatable work processes, and detailed bills of material (BOMs) proposal teams can reuse as needed. You can continually update and enhance your proposal data library using actual cost and current project performance data. The result? Your proposal teams have relevant fact-based data with historical BOE details to create credible proposals and management can establish target profit margins with confidence.
In another blog, we discussed How to Best Leverage Proposal Schedule and Cost Estimate at Contract Award – another way to reduce the time required to produce a quality schedule and budget performance measurement baseline (PMB) using BOEMax estimate software and EVMax earned value management system. No need to start from scratch or redo the proposal schedule and cost estimate data. The project team can build on the documented BOE rationale to substantiate the project’s integrated master schedule (IMS), resource plan, and resulting time phased budget plan so it takes less effort to develop an executable PMB.
Standardizing on a common set of basis of estimate and earned value management (EVM) tools can also help you create more effective training. A person already trained on the toolsets can easily move between projects; they just need to learn the nuances of each project. Consider combining process and workflow training using the toolsets. When you engage project personnel and show them how to use the toolsets do their project control tasks faster or easier while increasing the quality of data, they quickly learn to embrace preferred project control practices and take ownership in the process.
Create a common foundation for project control data and artifacts.
Take some time to think through what project control data would be useful to project managers and corporate management so you can collect “snap shots” of project performance across a group of projects, a division, business unit, or corporate wide. You may want to consider establishing a base framework or data architecture for coding project schedule and cost data so you can collect the applicable data from each project without having to transform the data in same manner. You want a common set of data components to be able to do cross-project analysis.
The WBS is often the starting point for this foundation. Define what other codes are important to you so you can sort and select the data you need for cross-project analysis such as functional departments or business line, type of project, customer, or risk level. The common data architecture defines the core database fields all projects use to enter required codes. In your data architecture, allow leeway for project managers to use other user defined fields for project unique requirements.
Identify what data components you may need to do cross-project analysis or to produce a variety of business metrics such as ROI as well as common performance metrics such as the schedule variance, cost variance, and variance at completion.
Examples of common data components include the time phased budget, actual costs incurred to date, current project status or assessment of completed work, and the current estimate to complete the remaining work. With this source data, you can produce a variety of metrics as well as monitor the forecasted project completion date and cost at completion. You may want to monitor other project performance metrics such as tracking the number of engineering change requests, burn-down of to be determined/to be defined requirements, or turnover of key personnel.
Leverage your toolsets to create project templates, forms, data views, base reports, and work instructions that help project personnel understand what is required to create useful project control data. Design these user assists so proposal teams and project personnel can get started quickly following preferred practices every time. Providing a model for someone to use as a starting point helps them to understand how to do something and apply it to their proposal or project.
How to gain control today.
ProjStream’s BOEMax estimate software and EVMax earned value analysis software take this a step further with built-in workflow, data integration, and data traceability functions. The tools provide the framework to organize your project control data as well as to define project control roles and responsibilities that support your internal workflow process. You can use ProjStream’s tools as the foundation to establish standard, repeatable project control processes.
Interested in learning more about how our basis of estimate software or earned value management software can make a difference in your environment? Call or schedule a demo of BOEMax and EVMax today.