Hands up all those managers who have been asked if they can foretell the future? ‘Are we going to be on schedule?’, ‘I want to know the Project status right now!’, ‘Will we complete within budget?’. All these questions and more are regularly asked of Project managers across the Energy sector, who undoubtedly wish for a Crystal ball to help find the answers and avoid the retelling of tales of the unexpected!
Obtaining a clear view of the current work-state ultimately helps managers make better decisions and offers accurate control of their projects. And is it possible to have clarity on tasks, no matter the project size? For starters, should current processes be based on paper printouts and spreadsheets, Operators and EPC’s will spend an incredible amount of time gathering and sifting through, often dated, documents. High manual intervention levels lead to a lack of quality and up-to-date information, never mind the wasted time spent handling the paperwork in the first place.
Accuracy, transparency, and quality data help keep production and schedules in line especially as delays, vague estimations and inefficiencies are incredibly costly to organizations. Precision is crucial, especially when pursuing handover dates and ensuring work-flow issues are avoided.
Technology is the obvious answer to demystifying this time-sapping issue. Digital software, integrated into systems and processes, is a practical solution that pushes project plans forward by assisting in the management, monitoring and execution of projects. Manual methods are bereft with blockages to productivity and efficiency that a comprehensive software system will automatically negate and offer instant information and indicators of pending problems. Many companies now offer a real-time software solution that helps steer projects effectively, timely and in budget. This makes life a little more predictable and gives Project managers that invaluable ‘second-sight’ and the ability to report to Leadership.
Software specialists in tracking industrial projects' status offer 4D tracking, colour coded 3D and 2D representations with the system providing a visualization of status during the Planning and Fabrication phases through to Construction, Commissioning, and Handover stages. The best of these multi-tasking solutions is cloud-based and provide immediate clarity and interactive ability all, from a single source of truth.
No matter the size or project duration, digital technology helps negate the recurring issues such as decreased downtime, lack of efficiency and budget-busting delays. It does not take a clairvoyant to tell of the consequences, such as schedules and handover goals not being met. But what is worse is the inability to show, prove or help colleagues or stakeholders understand the reasons why problems and bottlenecks have occurred. Having the facility to demonstrate the project status in real terms visibly is invaluable and helps managers become proactive rather than reactive to potential problems.
Reviewing and revisiting work completed is also a key factor in software that offers this breadth of transparency in the workplace. Creating a virtual view of your work-scopes offers not just a real-time picture of production but a historical record that can be stored digitally, again negating costly paper and document storage costs.
Purchasing a Progress Tracking software solution may cause initial reluctance however, mature products on the market will offer flexibility and collaboration as they can interact with an organization’s original system and database if required. Operators can utilize existing historical data by integrating it into their system. Additional tags or data can then be imported and exported as software amalgamates with external systems, especially useful in the construction of scopes of work and projects. This clearly removes any doubt regarding the state of project activity.
Digital solutions are driven by data, and it is a fact that the more quality data collected, the better the information end-product will be. This helps in such instances when managers require accurate status reports and need traceability of tasks instantly and with accurate information. Mobile hand-held devices are the most used medium for quickly collecting live data allowing immediate synchronization with Cloud-based systems.
Telepathic abilities will not suffice when it comes to tracking progress. Organizations need software that can deliver real value on projects to realize the cost-saving changes vital to remaining economically viable. The cost related to the lack of control and management of projects is exponential. Without a clear, true, and simple visual aid to your progress tracking, management of projects will remain a best-guess rather than a predictable and reliable tool for productivity.
The majority of Progress Tracking software paints a visual representation of a project status using only charts or spreadsheets. More advanced products for construction offer the option to use 3D visualization capabilities linked to the 3D model in real time. Typical programs may use 2D drawings, schematics, photographs alongside linked tags to illuminate the state of the project as it happens. Possessing a project overview that quickly illustrates workflow, any potential issues, and all related technical data, liberates project management to a higher level of efficiency and control.
This information, because of the logical and visually understandable aids, simplifies the task of tracking a project’s progression and maximizes the data available to managers and users. The data can be updated, shared, and accessed by all, instantaneously from anywhere in the world securely from a single data source. And it is advisable to look for a solution that can be modified to suit company templates and allow stage-gate editing.
Live updates are priceless in project execution. The value of accurate, accountable facts relates to productivity and profitability. Knowledge is key when estimating construction and labor, planning and scheduling. Quality data, facilitated by software, offering clarity and full comprehension to all users, reduces errors and ultimately completes projects faster, smarter and on time.
Experienced Project Managers often have, what can only be called, a ‘sixth sense’ when it comes to predicting potential bottlenecks or delays. This intuition is helpful, but delays are delays, Owner Operators can apply contract penalties to EPC contractors for the late handover of a project. Should these become recurrent issues, resultant due to the inability to track progress, managers will spend their limited time being reactive and troubleshooting. Focus should be targeted on using their knowledge, skills and data to hand, pre-emptive planning. The future is clear for all to see; no need for a side-show psychic to guess what lies ahead. Project predictability is possible using digital software and a Progress Tracking solution.