Data runs this world. Numbers are what help any businessman make sense of exactly how his concern is performing. Growth cannot be proven if there are no numbers suggesting the same. People place their faith in numbers, even though some agents might misuse numbers to state a point. Hard data is the lifeblood of business processes. And with the increasing abundance of data, it becomes all the more important to derive the right insights from it.
There is an overwhelming surplus of data present in our shared digital universe today. We’re currently generating about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day and it needs to be made sense of. Which is where analytics comes in. The presence of staggering amounts of data does not mean that your business will benefit from it. You need to extract useful insights from the abundance of data you have at your disposal. Data analytics makes it possible for organizations to extract trends and insights from business data and convert it into tools for strategic decision-making.
Why is Analytics Important in Project Management?
Big data and analytics have proven their capacity to streamline humongous amounts of data into actionable insights, bridging the gap between data and actual business outcomes. And this goes for businesses of all sizes. Despite what their names suggest, Big Data and Small Businesses can and do go hand in hand. In this article, we will attempt to shed some light on how small businesses can make use of the right data analytics to improve their project outcomes.
First things first, how does big data impact project management? Broadly, analytics enables project managers to avoid tunnel vision by providing a complete picture of the project so far. It takes the project data generated from various sources including project management software and turns it into a strategic asset for the project team. Here are some of the main ways in which data analytics empower project managers and teams.
- Project Viability Studies
Analytics makes a feasibility/viability study for a project more precise. It can use past data from previous projects and predict whether your project plan is likely to be successful.
- Risk Assessment
The next step is assessing the risk associated with the project. Analytics can assist the project manager in identifying and evaluating the biggest risks. It will eventually enable him to come up with a proper action plan to control/combat these risks successfully.
- Predictive Analytics
Analytics can predict a number of things about your project based on past data, and the present ongoing work on the project by capturing the work rate. It can predict whether your project will be completed in time, whether it will go over budget, etc. It’s like a continuous, ongoing assessment which will help keep the project on track and help project managers take proactive action for the same.
- Project Performance Analysis
Are your project KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) being met?
Data analytics gives project managers a 360o view of the project in real-time. This enables them to take preventive measures for any possible upsets, and ensure that KPIs are being met. This is one of the main reasons that more businesses are investing in project management software equipped with data analytics capabilities.
- Strategic Decision Making
As previously mentioned, analytics converts raw data into strategic assets that can be used for making the right decisions at the right time. Ultimately, the decisions taken with regard to your project determine the final quality of the deliverable. Analytics helps managers control the quality of this deliverable with continuous analysis of relevant metrics.
Analytics will very soon be an indispensable feature of project management in all industries. Better to be an early adopter. That being said, let’s take a look at how project managers across various domains have been using data analytics to improve project outcomes.
- BitMar Networks, a small media streaming platform, used data analytics to study customer preferences, especially when it came to support. Analytics revealed that a majority of their customers preferred to talk to one another rather than with official tech support. So, the company built a self-help platform for the customers, which allowed users to help themselves. It cost next to nothing and increased customer satisfaction to boot.
- The American agrochemical company, Monsanto, started using machine learning for predictive analytics and prescriptive recommendations. Its models leveraged statistics and past data in order to prescribe the best time to plant and the best place to do so. It increased yields while reducing land utilization. The marriage between learnings from Agriculture and advances in IT really paid off for the company; it was able to save $6 million, while also reducing its supply chain footprint by 4%.
To tie it all up, here are some excellent tools that your business could invest in right now. Harness the power of big data for your small business with these specialized tools which have analytics capabilities dedicated to SMBs.
- Qlik Sense
Qlik Sense is a web-based tool which quickly highlights patterns or trends in data. Its visualization features allow you to pull in different views, annotate them and present the compilation without the need for Powerpoint or other presentation tools. Data visualization and discovery are its major selling points. How will it help you a Small-medium business: It is flexible and scalable, allowing your small business to explore complex data to find all possible associations, even as the business continues to grow. It can unify data from various databases and document management software. It can be integrated into new applications for automated data capturing.
Pricing: Get started for free with Qlik Sense Cloud Basic. You can upgrade to Qlik Sense Cloud Business, starting at $15/user per month.
- TIBCO Spotfire
Spotfire provides everything that a good data analytics/BI tool for SMBs should have: dynamic dashboards, visualization, and robust mobile access. Teams can collaborate on their smartphones entirely if the need arises. So, it’s a great option for businesses which have remote teams or offsite team members. It integrates easily with existing databases (including Excel) and with other software such as the CRM or ERP.
How it can help your small/medium business: It connects all your data points, making reporting effortless. Its multimodal interface allows you to interact with data the way you want to and delivers lightning-fast insights. Like Qlik Sense, it is scalable. With its robust AI capabilities, you can spot trends, patterns, and outliers in any data.
Pricing: You can opt for a 30-day free trial. The Tibco Cloud Spotfire Business Author plan starts at $65/ user per month or $650/user per year, making it a pricey option for smaller businesses. However, its evaluation capabilities more than make up for it.
- SAS Visual Analytics
The most well-known and also the costliest of the lot, SAS Visual Analytics might not be the first choice for an SMB looking for an analytics solution. However, its features justify its cost. To start with, It has data access transformation, data mining, visualization, and reporting capabilities. It is the market leader because of its top-notch statistical and predictive models. If you feel that your core business growth is undoubtedly going to be heavily reliant on data analytics, then this is a viable option for you.
How it can help your small/medium business: Apart from the usual self-service data preparation and analysis capabilities, SAS can go as far as analyzing text over social media and show you whether the sentiment is positive or negative. You can create interactive reports and dashboards, summarizing key metrics for your team in a way that each member can comfortably comprehend.
Pricing: SAS follows quote-based pricing for all its products and you can rest assured that it’s going to be a significant investment. If you feel that your core business growth is undoubtedly going to be heavily reliant on data analytics, then this is a viable option for you.
Businesses of all sizes and in all domains can benefit from the use of data analytics. This holds true for small businesses as well. However, small businesses must go out of the way to ensure that the data analytics tools they choose are of reasonable cost, easy-to-use, and reliable. Empower your project teams with a good data analytics tool to augment the existing project management software and, in turn, the project outcomes. It is only a matter of time before this becomes the norm, be ahead of the curve!