Saving money—or at least making the available bucket of money go farther—has long been a priority for project teams. Organizations use numerous strategies to control costs. Sometimes it’s nothing more than opting for the cheapest materials or shrinking the project’s scope to keep expenditures down. But if you’re looking for more sophisticated and flexible ways to manage your project’s financial resources, consider how data can help make any approach more effective.
Timely data can give your team an edge on controlling costs by ensuring that resources are used efficiently. What’s the latest insight into best practices? Which vendors are leading the space in innovation? With data on how thought leadership is evolving, your team can partner with providers that have already developed processes to avoid wasteful or redundant activities. You’ll also understand which new options might be available—innovative ways to reuse materials rather than paying for disposal, perhaps, or advanced materials that are less expensive to manufacture or that utilize less costly installation methods—to help optimize your investments.
Data such as workforce metrics, vendor rates, and material pricing gives your team the necessary background to minimize costs by identifying the right resource mix for each market. As remote work arrangements continue to become the norm for many roles, project groups may find that costs related to staffing vary widely by region. This information can be used to develop hiring plans that make the best use of low-cost markets. Your group might also apply it to source more cost-effective alternatives in pricier areas. Is it less expensive to hire staff in a particular market or to leverage vendors? Where can supplies be purchased and staged to avoid high transportation or storage costs? The data will help you adjust to changing economic pressures and focus on the best options.
Analyzing data from multiple sources provides your team with insight to trim costs by understanding which tasks you can eliminate. Information gathered from past initiatives, as well as sources such as industry groups and project management-focused professional organizations, becomes more powerful when analyzed together. Do previous network diagrams include tasks that are now considered by experts to be obsolete? Advances in manufacturing practices may make some installation steps redundant, for example. You may be able consolidate or eliminate activities, which can simultaneously reduce costs and increase productivity.
Information reviews around past unexpected events can enable your team to keep costs down by more accurately identifying potential risks. For instance, weather events happen all the time, but most project teams have been bitten more than once by difficulties in predicting when and how things like windstorms, snowstorms, and heat waves are likely to affect their efforts. Fortunately, a trove of historical data exists that can help unravel the mystery of inclement weather and pinpoint the most likely events and the times of year they typically occur. The same strategy can be applied to develop contingency plans for a range of other risks, empowering your team with the targeted insights needed to minimize the costs of previously overlooked events and more accurately foresee potentially risky circumstances.
On-demand access to timely, relevant, and highly accurate data is key to controlling costs by avoiding scope creep. Teams that can quickly pull up project information are better equipped to prevent the expansion of a project’s established parameters and push back on requests to add deliverables or shorten the timeline. The most actionable data may include scenario planning showing the effect on costs if rush charges are incurred to meet an earlier deadline, or if additional resources are needed to execute an expanded task list.