Is Your Railway Project Performance Getting Off Track?

When I ask railway owners and contractors if they use software to manage their projects, the answer is always a resounding YES. When I ask if they experience cost or schedule overruns on a regular basis, the answer is also YES. Why is this?

The mainstays of any project-based organization are the scheduling tool and the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. But where is the Enterprise Project Performance (EPP) system?

The schedule is mission critical to maintain during all phases of a project, but it’s not going to help with cost control or the other aspects of project controls like the management of change, risk or documents.

It’s not going to serve as the single source of truth for project performance, because it’s missing important elements that reside in the suite of other tools deployed within the organization, such as the ERP.

The ERP is a great tool for the finance and accounting discipline, but it’s hardly the tool for managing projects.

It can tell you how much cost a project has incurred, but what if I want to know the value of the work that’s been performed or I want to use advanced forecasting techniques to determine where the project is heading?

What if I want to perform a scenario analysis or review trends? What if I don’t want to work at the transaction level of detail and would like information rolled up to the control accounts of my choosing?

An Enterprise Project Performance (EPP) software acts as an enabling platform to ensure best practices are followed and cost and schedule outcomes are optimized.

Data visibility
It connects to both the schedule and the ERP to bring in the necessary information needed by the project team.

No more spreadsheets
It eliminates the need for complex excel spreadsheets that require special expertise to operate.

Scalability
Robust enough for mega projects, yet simple enough for smaller ones – so it can be utilized throughout the organization on all types of projects. It includes support for the business processes that occur at the project level all the way up to the strategic operations at the portfolio level.

Optimises performance and spend
An EPP not only helps contractors manage their performance. It helps owners decide which of their investment opportunities is most deserving of funding. Owners can collect funding from available sources and allocate it to specific projects. These projects are scored against each other according to a standard set of metrics like expected financial return as well as how well they align with the organization’s strategy.

When rapid pullbacks in spending occur, such as the case with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more critical than ever to be able to know which projects can be shelved for later or cancelled altogether.

Predicts project cost and schedule overruns
During cost reporting meetings, it’s commonplace for project managers to limit the amount of activity occurring in the Forecast Variance column. Doing so makes it look like the project is under control. Sometimes budget transfers are used to move money from an overperforming area to an underperforming one. Thus, masking the true performance. And the result could be a wild cost and schedule overrun at the tail end of a project.

A good Enterprise Project Performance software will calculate predictability for you. It starts by measuring the timeliness of forecast adjustments and the magnitude of the variations. The result is a predictability metric that can give organizations valuable insight into the performance of their projects.

You’ll be able to see which project teams, divisions, or regions are delivering the most predictable projects. Project teams could be rewarded for achieving the highest measure of predictability within the organization.

Increases performance and efficiency
This would encourage the proactive reporting of issues, allowing additional time for corrective action to be taken. It’s hard to help projects that are not forthcoming with their reporting and when early warning indicators are supressed.

If you’re ready to invest in improving your project performance, you should know that you don’t need to define the perfect business process before you implement an EPP to support it. Attempting this could result in months or years of effort, and thousands or millions of dollars.

Instead, improving project performance involves the implementation of industry best practices along with an enabling platform. Invest in your people, processes, and technology and you’ll find that it’s impossible not to achieve your project performance goals.

Discover how adopting a two-system (ERP/EPP) strategy can give you a better visibility into cost and schedule performance in our webinar Cost and Schedule Performance: When good is not good enough

Watch our webinar “Cost and Schedule Performance: When Good Is Not Good Enough” to discover how adopting a two-system (ERP/EPP) strategy can help you gain better visibility into your project cost and schedule performance.

Ready to improve your project performance? Speak to us today to discover why Hexagon’s EcoSys is the Enterprise Project Performance System your organisation needs.

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James Crowell
James is an industry consultant for Hexagon’s PPM division, based in Singapore. He supports companies in their evaluation of EcoSys, Hexagon’s enterprise projects performance software. He is PMP certified with international experience implementing project management systems. His experience spans the entire project life cycle from initiation and planning to execution and closeout. He has a bachelor’s degree in construction management and a master’s degree in business.

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