Business Intelligence — Data-Driven Project Management

In the modern sphere of PM (project management), where more and more businesses are involved in a globalized market — Big Data stops just being a catchy phrase, becoming actually a major player on all levels of operation.

In its very core, Business Intelligence is just a set of tools that can extract pure data, then analyze and transform it into meaningful business information. But what does that mean? Well, according to Russel Ackoff, who presented a DIKUW (Data, Information, Knowledge, Understanding, Wisdom) hierarchy, the information stands one step higher than data and therefore presents more value to a business.

The Essence of Data

Data itself is a basis of this pyramid and a very foundation on which the decision-making process should stand. But yet again it’s just a raw fact or a number that is true by its very nature. It’s just is, no more, no less, therefore data alone is not enough to make a decision and it must be transformed and put into context. And that is where the BI comes into play.

BI software is able to perform such functions as:

  • Data mining
  • Reporting
  • Data analysis
  • Data summary
  • Data synthesis
  • Presentation and formatting

Very important aspect of modern BI and what made it possible is the rise of cloud-based SaaS systems that has allowed collecting and presenting all the data in real-time.

Higher Information

So now we have something more than just pure data. We have data put into context and organized with some structure behind it. In other words, it now has meaning relevance, and more value. Now it has become information. Usually, when the word itself is said, it implies some usefulness.

Anything further down or should we better say further up the hierarchy requires an interpreter, someone with a point of reference and experience. We think of them as project managers and executives. It is their job to take information, process it and make decisions.

The Main Features of BI

But we got off the topic a little bit. In project management BI allows your team to monitor all the important metrics and KPIs in real-time, and what’s important is that these values are already presented as information constructed from tons of data. Modern cloud computing allows performing fast BI functions, that we’ve mentioned with a great deal of speed and efficiency.

Visualization in BI

Although some might argue the importance, we would like to talk on the matter of presentation, even for a little bit. Nicely designed charts that are easy to comprehend are not just some extra feature that is useless, especially on the executive level. For the people on top, time is money and big ones. Members of the executive board very often value clarity and appreciate the well-presented content. Just a single second out of their schedule wasted for something like trying to understand the chart is a second of money-making wasted.

Interactivity in BI

And finally, what makes the today’s BI tools such a success is their interactivity and personalization. A Business Intelligence system now allows connecting data sets, recombine and filter new ones in a matter of few clicks. Plus access to detailed views of various sections in a different context, compare against different parameters. Needless to say that it would take you an entire floor of clerks and about a week to complete it in excel. And this is a very generous estimation.

Powerful BI tools, integrated with PM software allowed management teams to step up their game and now be truly Data Driven.