Every aspect of project management hinges on the ability to access quality information. Sponsors use data to identify the outcomes they want the project to achieve. Teams rely on data to develop timelines and budgets. Stakeholder groups look to a variety of datasets to understand the deliverables and how the project will affect workflows.
But information doesn’t just influence the project’s shape and direction. Once an initiative moves from the planning phase into execution, data provides the insight the team needs to monitor progress, flag issues, mitigate risks, and spot opportunities to use resources more efficiently.
Advancements in technology have made it possible to gather and process more data than ever before and to do it faster, as well. More organizations are deploying on-demand access to project data, and it’s proving to be a valuable capability for project team members and stakeholders alike. But merely having project information available when you want it isn’t enough. To provide the kind of insights necessary to enable good decision making, you need to be sure your on-demand data strategy has all the right elements.
The value of providing team members, sponsors, and others with on-demand access to project data goes down fast if the information those stakeholders see isn’t up to date. In fact, old data is often obsolete data, and presenting it without a caveat can do far more harm than good. Information such as weeks-old expenditure levels likely don’t tell the whole story. Out-of-date information isn’t always a deal breaker, but your stakeholders should be made aware of datapoints that represent older information in need of a refresh.
Accuracy relates to timeliness but it’s also a standalone concern your group must consider when it comes to on-demand data access. For example, some information may include estimates early in the initiative’s lifecycle. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the project team should clearly delineate within the on-demand platform which datasets contain trusted information and which include estimates, placeholders, or other data that is not yet confirmed as accurate or final. These disclaimers alert people to the presence of untrusted information so they can assess and weigh the unknowns before using the data as a basis for calculations or as part of the decision-making process.
The datasets of even relatively small projects can be voluminous, and maintaining large data repositories is a discipline unto itself. Unfortunately, concerns about the completeness of the available information are sometimes enough to stop project teams from giving stakeholders on-demand access to project data. But instead of letting data gaps halt your efforts, you can instead build transparency by flagging any missing information and providing a reason for the gap. Is the data not yet available but expected to be added to the system soon? Is the team assessing the information or confirming its accuracy before its inclusion in the overall dataset? This background gives your stakeholders the visibility they desire even if some data is still pending.
It’s important that project team members—those people responsible for executing many of the initiative’s tasks and shepherding the project to a successful completion—have on-demand access to the latest project data. It’s equally vital that key stakeholders can also tap into project information that’s current, accurate, and comprehensive. If you haven’t yet rolled out an on-demand data solution for stakeholders, consider what’s holding you back and evaluate what needs to change in order to complete that important step. Innovative platforms exist to provide easy access for every level of stakeholder and help your team boost engagement and demonstrate transparency throughout the entire project lifecycle.