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2/12/2019 What role does Big Data have in shaping future of Project Management?

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2/12/2019 What role does Big Data have in shaping future of Project Management? (Part A) - IPMA International Project Management Associat…

What role does Big Data have in shaping future of Project Management? (Part A)
Big Data revolution is at our door steps and expected to drive ‘Big Changes’ in the way
businesses and societies go about their day-to-day chores. From health, education, nance,
technology to defense, to name a few, no single sector of economy is spared from Big Data
analytics and its implications. These implications, if exploited in a right manner, can bring about
far reaching changes for improved decision making, customer experience improvements,
pro tability and overall economic development of societies.

Similar to across-the-board implications of Big Data analytics, project management (PM)


knowledge and skills carry wide-scale in uence as PM is used in almost every industry and
economic sector. This commonality of pervasiveness raises the questions ‘how Big Data can help
shape future of project management?’ and / or conversely ‘how project management can help in
further developments in Big Data technologies?’ For the sake of parsimony of thoughts, let me
address the former question in this article rst.

How Big Data can help shape future of project management?

The volume, value, variety, veracity and velocity (commonly known as 5 Vs of Big Data) with
which multi-layered data about di erent aspects of business and human lives are being
collected on an ongoing basis o er signi cant opportunities for making use of data for the
bene t of businesses and societies. Projects live and breathe within a context, be it business or
non-business, therefore as part of the context a large amount of data about projects and
management of projects is being collected on an ongoing basis too. Prima facie, the nature of
data being collected about project management is of two types: (1) about the broader project
eco-system which involves policies, regulatory environment, business context, project bene ts
realization procedures, project nance, and organizational project maturity, and (2) about
activities, events, happenings and lessons learned during actual project management.

What it means is that the Big Data collection as described above can be utilized in at least two
ways. First, the data can be used to develop new science and protocols for improved planning,
control and delivery of projects. Secondly, the data can be analysed to shape the future of overall
project ecosystem. To start the conversation on this critical issue, we discuss some of the ways in
which Big Data analytics can in uence the future or project management delivery.

1. Use of Big Data analytics to shape future of project planning, control and delivery

The use of Big Data analytics can shape the future of project management delivery in many
ways, some of which are discussed as under.

a. Planning and
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Planning and delivery activities are often heavily documented providing opportunities for
consolidation and analysis of information related to these. The increased use of technology in
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projects makes it easier to collect and analyse Big Data related to planning and delivery. For a
large organization or a projectized organization,
Read the
moredata volume and variety could help in doing
analysis and developing insights on how to rede ne the internal planning processes and
parameters so as to do things in innovative and creative
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2/12/2019 What role does Big Data have in shaping future of Project Management? (Part A) - IPMA International Project Management Associat…

Overall consolidation of planning and delivery related Big Data across business segments (e.g.,
IT, HR, Manufacturing, logistics, inventory etc), industries (e.g., construction, IT, defense,
education etc.), economic sectors (e.g., mining, agriculture, transport etc.), regions (asia-paci c,
Americas, Europe etc.) could provide insights at a wider scale leading to development of new
planning and delivery frameworks and methodologies. As such, Big Data analytics could play a
signi cant role in shaping the future of project and delivery activities.

b. Project team environment

A signi cant amount of data about the project team members is collected on an ongoing basis.
That includes experience of working on projects within current and past organisations, skills,
education, training programs that project team members may have attended, performance
evaluation, and the size and con guration of teams that they have worked with. Additionally,
some data on team working environment including con icts, their resolution, team member
attrition, leadership, and team performance is also recorded. These sets of data when
consolidated and analysed using Big Data technology could provide insights on how to form
teams more e ectively, how to develop optimum size and con guration of teams, the skill sets
needed by teams for managing projects of future, development of scalable leadership, and
capability building within the organization for management of complex projects of future. We
believe that Big Data analytics and associated technologies could play a critical role in shaping
team developments and providing new thoughts on team formation processes, and the mix of
skills team members need to deal with complexity of future projects.

c. Knowledge management

In an era of ubiquitous use of internet and associated technologies a signi cant amount of
information is collected as part of knowledge management e orts, both in project and business
organizations. Such information is processed and transformed in the form of knowledge on an
ongoing basis. This knowledge could be in the form of logs, lessons learned, best practices,
troubleshooting and re ghting information on issues as they happen. However, often it is the
case that this knowledge is not used to its maximum value ending up in archives. Given the
dynamic nature of project management, people move on to new projects and archival
information remain buried in data stores. Big Data analytics and associated technologies can
process this vital information for suggesting future developments and growth of discipline. By
using Big Data technology, we could nd new ways of dealing with issues and problems, develop
new best practices, and new technologies to work more e ectively. This is all the more important
as future projects will involve complex arti cial intelligence, and Internet of Things (IoT)
developments, necessitating the need for learning from present to shape the future.

d. Risk andTo
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makemanagement
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Project management is very dynamic and a ected by various internal and externally imposed
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events. Risks when become ‘Issues’ need to be dealt with to minimize their negative impacts on
project delivery outcome. Prudence suggests that project teams should actively identify risks and
manage them on an ongoing basis. That would Readmean
more all risk events need to be documented.

Similarly, when risks actually happen and become Issues, the re ghting and troubleshooting
activities to deal with the emerging issuesChange Settings documented as well. Such an approach
are thoroughly
results in creation of a large amount of data that can be analysed for enhancing risks and issues
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2/12/2019 What role does Big Data have in shaping future of Project Management? (Part A) - IPMA International Project Management Associat…

management. Big Data analytics can be a critical tool in analyzing Risks and Issues related data
to develop new techniques and procedures for identifying, analyzing, prioritizing monitoring and
creating risk response strategies. Given that the research suggests that risk management is not
given a priority and rightful importance, there is a real need for developing new methods,
procedures and techniques that can receive wider acceptance from people working on projects
to apply the newly developed procedures to deal with risks and issues more e ectively. Big Data
analytics can help achieve these objectives.

e. Quality management

Quality management involves considerable amount of work during planning, designing,


construction and testing phases of project management. Hence a lot of data is prepared,
processed, captured and analysed during the project delivery. This data is related to quality
planning including developing policies, decisions on using quality criteria and the criteria
thresholds, use of quality standards such as ISO quality standards and so on so forth. In quality
assurance part, considerable amount of data is collected to ensure qualities processes are being
implemented, standards and requirements are being met. Similarly, the data on the use of
quality control tools and parameters, the results of these procedures and handling of issues
arising out of quality control procedures are also collected.  Consolidating the above-mentioned
data for multiple projects could become sizable data that can be analysed to develop enhanced
quality processes and solutions. Big Data analytics can be used to analyse the quality
management data to develop new quality standards and frameworks, new quality control
techniques and procedures, new dashboard technology to monitor quality during project
execution, and new thresholds, criteria and parameters for measuring quality against the
baseline standards

f. Resource management

Resources in a project context include human inventory, infrastructure, technologies, nancial,


tacit and explicit knowledge, procedures and organizational process assets. Similar to other
aspects a large amount of data is collected on use of resources, types of resources, unit of
measure, the amount required, the amount used, the unsed resources and control mechanisms
for resource utilisation. The resources are typically convertible into cash and hence analysis of
resource data can provide insights for better management of them possibly resulting in savings
in costs. Big Data analytics could play a vital role in developing new procedures for resource
procurement, allocation and management. Big Data analytics can help in creating new software
applications for resource management.

Concluding thoughts:
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fast-paced technological
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developments. Project management being a vibrant profession has little to no option but to
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leverage upon the technological advancements to remain relevant and fresh. Big Data analytics
is one such technology that seems to have the potential of creating value for business and
project management alike. The preliminary Read morediscussed in this article clearly point to the
thoughts
usefulness of Big Data analytics for shaping future of project management. It seems that the
time is ripe for project management as a Change Settings
profession to cease upon the Big Data analytics
opportunity to usher into an era of 21st life.
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2/12/2019 What role does Big Data have in shaping future of Project Management? (Part A) - IPMA International Project Management Associat…

Part B of this article will discuss how can we use Big Data analytics and associated
technologies for shaping future developments in overall project eco-system.

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Jiwat (https://www.ipma.world/author/jiwat-ram/)
Author of this post

Jiwat is a Professor in Project Management. He has considerable experience of working


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internationally
device. in diverse
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do this too. and business environments such as Hong Kong, China,
Singapore, and Australia, among others. Over his career, he has provided leadership in
establishing, designing, and delivering Executive
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Research programs.
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Jiwat is currently serving on the Editorial Board of International Journal of Project
Management. Change Settings

Jiwat actively contributes to project management community by speaking at various


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Jiwat actively contributes to project management community by speaking at various
events and writing on emerging issues. His work has been published in top scienti c
journals and Four of his published papers have remained in Top25 most downloaded
papers. Additionally, two of his papers have been ranked as the Most Cited article
published since 2012, one in the International Journal of Production Economics and the

other in Journal of Engineering and Technology Management. More recently, he has


published a number of articles on some of the issues confronting project management
in various industry based outlets.

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