Podcast: Maximizing Your Projects Performance

Projects and portfolios often struggle to deliver their desired return on investment. Many in the projects business don’t standardize project prioritization, planning and delivery. They select projects without knowing whether they align with strategy. They can’t establish real performance baselines. With these limitations, what result should you expect?

With EcoSys, we’ve always focused on project controls. However, we all know there’s no point controlling a project perfectly if it’s the wrong project to begin with. Similarly, without ensuring your contracts are managed effectively, you can’t really control all aspects of a project.

With the release of EcoSys 8, we are showcasing our expanded portfolio management and contract management capabilities to offer a complete solution for improving the full life-cycle of projects performance. EcoSys is now the first integrated platform in the industry for project performance spanning project portfolio management, project controls and contract management. This allows our customers to benefit from our strengths in project controls and helps them break down siloes that usually isolate portfolios and contracts.

Everything happens in one platform. Other vendors who provide solutions in all three areas really offer three technology products on three different platforms. Our three products – EcoSys Portfolios, EcoSys Projects, and EcoSys Contracts – are on one technology platform. They are fully integrated, so when you select a project from any one of the three products, you’re selecting it from the same list of projects. You don’t have to manufacture a data exchange between the three pieces.

An exciting benefit of this is the ability to recycle data. Project execution data can be recycled that back into EcoSys Portfolios to make sure that your estimates for future projects are that much more accurate through benchmarking.

Listen to this podcast featuring Mark White, senior vice president of projects performance at Hexagon PPM to hear more about the benefits of EcoSys 8, the EcoSys product vision and roadmap.


EcoSys 8: Introducing Enterprise Projects Performance

Project controls is a vital part of successful project delivery. The ability to efficiently and accurately measure and forecast project performance can’t be understated. However, project controls alone is not enough. Consider a project that is flawlessly executed, on-time and on-budget, only to learn that it’s not strategic, doesn’t further an organization’s goals, and the investment would have been better spent elsewhere.

That is why with the release of EcoSys 8, Hexagon PPM has announced an expanded vision for the life cycle of projects, Enterprise Projects Performance. EcoSys now goes beyond project controls to look strategically at all projects in an enterprise – from project portfolio management, to project controls, to contract management.

The mission of Enterprise Projects Performance is to maximize investment returns through:

  1. The alignment of strategic decision making with tactical, real-time project and contract intelligence
  2. Proper prioritization, selection, and management of project portfolios from inception through execution to close out
  3. Controlling projects and managing contracts through standardization based on best practices to avoid overruns and mitigate contract risk
  4. High visibility of forecasts and trends via built-in dashboards, dynamically drilling down into underlying causes

Watch this video to learn more about what’s new in EcoSys 8, and how it can help you move beyond project controls.

Improving Projects Performance at CH2M

Efficiency is important in improving organizational performance, especially in the Engineering & Construction industry where project margins are so thin.

CH2M, a leading global engineering company providing consulting, design, construction and operations services recognized that in order to improve the performance of their projects, they needed to increase efficiency by eliminating the time spent manually compiling data from single point solutions. CH2M selected EcoSys as an enterprise-wide project platform, integrating with their ERP and scheduling systems to seamlessly integrate data sources, resulting in improved:

  • Budgeting
  • Forecasting
  • Change management
  • Progress measurement
  • Performance measurement

Watch this video to see how CH2M was able to replace inefficient in-house and single point solutions by standardizing their project controls solution with EcoSys.

10 Reasons Why Your Projects Aren’t Improving

With today’s increasingly tight budgets, organizations need greater visibility into project and program performance in order to ensure that funds are being well spent. As a result, Project Controllers need to deliver timely and accurate information to pro-actively shape business decisions.

EcoSys regularly meets with project controls professionals across a variety of industries and the cost controls challenges that we discuss are common and pervasive. These challenges emerge from various sources ranging from organizational readiness to the design of processes and systems. Let’s take a look at our view of the top 10:

Number 10: Cost accounting, not cost analysis

A growing frustration among project controls professionals stems from being perceived as cost “accountants”, finding that a great deal of their job consists of reconciling and ensuring that recorded data is accurate. Project controls should about be creating scenarios, planning and analyzing the data of a project, not counting costs. In essence, looking forward; not looking back.

Number 9: Budgeting and forecasting effectively

Most organizations do not have a consistent method for cost controls. This is not just a systems problem, but includes a lack of standards: do we have a standard for creating budgets? Updating forecasts? Do we execute these tasks consistently across the organization for similar projects? Are there standard benchmarks and measures for determining success? Generally, the answer is no.

Number 8: Getting progress data from multiple (sub)contractors

Attempting to pull together an integrated master schedule from many different contractors and/or subcontractors is a problematic task, especially on larger projects with involving potentially hundreds of different parties. Even gathering progress data, and ensuring accurate sign-offs from subcontractors can be difficult. The cumbersome nature of obtaining this data, compounded with inaccurate or irregular information, obstructs good reporting or analysis of a project.

Number 7: Integrating schedule and cost

Schedulers tend to work in terms of work breakdown structures (WBS) and activities, while cost analysts and finance use cost codes, transactions, and fiscal periods. Each side typically has different managers who are reviewing their data and schedules. Scheduling and cost are also often using different tools to report their data. Therefore, pulling information from both sides to provide a clear view of project performance has been a huge challenge.

Number 6: Aligning data between multiple source systems

In addition to schedule and costs aspects of a project, projects have to align data from different sources such as a time sheet system, asset management systems, procurement systems, etc. Many organizations ultimately use Excel spreadsheets to attempt to reconcile the data pulled from various locations. However, due to the complex nature of some projects, the result is often wrought with mismatched data and inconsistencies.

Number 5: Time and effort involved with reporting

An even bigger problem than pulling information from different sources is the time it takes to gather the information for reporting. The typical solution for gathering this information is a manual process, which is tedious, time consuming and prone to error. A cost engineer’s time is better spent analyzing reports rather than building them.

Number 4: Managing the customer relationship

Clients will often want to see cost and performance measurements in a manner that your organization does not currently provide. For contractors, these customers are project owners, but even internal customers such as executives or other stakeholder’s can add to this burden with ad hoc requests. We often see organizations focus much of their time and effort generating reports for the customer in the format they have requested. This diverts efforts from actually improving project performance, which would be the greater client “reward.”

Number 3: Accuracy of reports

Once the data has been collected and the format has been established for a report, you need to ensure that the report is accurate and understandable. For example, a summary report should be able to provide accurate details in WBS or costs and provide a level of clarity on the project.

Number 2: Insufficient resources for controls

There seems to be an ever greater demand for cost reporting, better planning and scenario analysis. In more complex environments, massive amounts of collaboration between different project stakeholders are necessary for success. This places a great deal of pressure on the limited project delivery resources of the organization. The challenge becomes having sufficient resources to provide detailed, accurate reporting in a timely fashion.

Number 1: Controlling changes

Managing changes within a project can be the most difficult aspect of cost management. While a budget may be set for a project, there will inevitably be a variation or scope change. Various questions arise due to changes: How did the variable affect the budget and the forecast? Were all changes accurately reported on? Does the current budget and forecast reflect the change? Compounded with other challenges (insufficient resources, disconnected data and systems, manual compilation of data), a mismanaged change can severely impact the accuracy of reporting and jeopardize the potential success of a project.

These challenges can seem like major obstacles standing between you and project success. Luckily there is a solution…technology. Modern Enterprise Project Controls solutions can help you overcome these challenges, providing a single source of truth to help keep your project on budget and on schedule.

Learn more by watching this webinar on Enterprise Project Controls, or connect with an expert to see how Enterprise Project Controls can benefit your company.

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