Technology increases project vision, unleashes value and saves time
As project executive and a K-12 market leader in Southern California, Emily Kay knows process is critical to maintaining vision into projects, ensuring schedules are met, and in identifying and addressing any challenges before they become issues.
Successful leaders continuously seek new ways of removing barriers from their teams’ day-to-day workflow so teammates can spend more time doing what they do best, delivering value and executing for clients. So, when the company rolled out a new business intelligence technology platform across its U.S. buildings teams, Emily evaluated how her 13 project teams could benefit from its capabilities. She also wanted to learn how she could benefit from the technology as a visualization tool that could serve as a single source for her to check on the critical elements of all her projects.
In evaluating the technology, she honed in on a particular pain point connected to the amount of time her teams spent pulling information for monthly project reviews (MPRs). By Emily’s calculation, each of her 13 teams spent 16 hours every month pulling redundant data from multiple sources. Although a very important process, she believed the labor intensive exercise was too prone to subjective data analysis, inconsistent terminology, balancing semantics and clerical input rather than providing an opportunity for the team to have face-to-face, pointed conversations about items they felt were critical to project success.
Finances, risk management, schedule and safety naturally play a key role in the MPR process, which requires in-depth understanding of technical financial terms, schedule milestones, along with contract terms and safety data. The teams knew these meetings were important and wanted to accurately report the information, but they weren’t always sure they were pulling the right information from the right sources.
Once Emily saw the value the visualization capabilities could deliver, she aggressively incorporated it into her teams’ MPR agenda. As Emily says, the beauty of visual dashboards is that rather than spending time on tedious clerical data entry and redundant activities, she and her teams now have a ‘one-stop shop’ where they can view an automated dashboard that pulls real-time information straight from the source programs, spotlighting the most critical items. Additionally, the technology provides the same information to whomever views it – from the project team level to company leadership – so there is no further confusion when questions arise regarding elements of the project.
Not only has the visualization tool helped Emily and her 13 teams collectively reclaim about 200 hours per month to spend more time on their projects, she says the data is also more accurate. Because the technology pulls data automatically, it has eliminated subjectivity and interpretation of results. And, the speed at which teams can now pull data has allowed Emily’s teams to have much more productive conversations and more time to discuss project issues, staff challenges, and development opportunities rather than semantics. For the teams, instead of spending hours filling out spreadsheets for reporting and MPR preparation, they are focused on actual work and project demands.
As Emily sees it, the intent of holding MPRs is to identify any potential challenges as early as possible so they can be quickly addressed. The business intelligence technology is helping her teams identify and highlight potential issues sooner. Along with others across the company, Emily is continuously working to implement new modifications, including the development of improved forecasting methods.
As a project executive, Emily’s goal is to get answers to questions faster so she can spend more time coaching people and less time reporting. And, thanks to Balfour Beatty’s technology and visualization tools, she is doing just that.