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Climbing the Megaproject Management Peak of Excellence

Managing megaprojects is a massively complex task. Everyone involved must be aligned to deliver projects successfully, from on-site contractors to top-level executives. Of course, there are many ways to approach megaproject management – some more effective than others. 

We’ve created the Megaproject Management Peak of Excellence to illustrate the varying degrees of technological and psychological maturity you’ll find in megaproject management today.

Technological Excellence

Today’s megaprojects are so complex that no human team can satisfactorily manage them alone. Teams need technology and machine intelligence to deliver projects effectively.

Novice:

These teams are using hundreds of spreadsheets and Word documents to track their schedules, priorities, and resources. Communication is siloed across email, instant messaging, and in-person meetings. 

Schedule data is either non-existent, incomplete, or inaccurate, making effective reporting and decision-making almost impossible. Large project components may be overlooked and left out of the schedule entirely.

Competent:

The project has a capital project management (CPM) platform such as Microsoft Project or Oracle Primavera P6. However, the Primavera P6 .xer or Microsoft Project .mpp file is misaligned with reality. 

For instance, the program is relatively high-level, prone to change, or unrepresentative of the physical scope. Detailed schedules are tracked in separate Excel files. Project team members cannot access or interrogate the project schedule on their own. They rely on irregular updates in the form of PDF files. The program data becomes a “black box”. 

Proficient:

Project teams have now introduced tools such as Safran Risk or Acumen Fuse to analyze schedule risk. They may also employ Power BI or Tableau for reporting. While these tools provide more sophisticated project insights, they also increase data complexity and fragmentation. 

As a result, schedule data is governed by specialized team members for each platform. Reporting is often slow, laborious, and biased. The high-level schedule still does not link down to detailed, up-to-date tasks. 

Expert:

At this level, the Primavera P6 or Microsoft Project schedule data is accurate and accessible at all levels. Everyone from board members to on-site supervisors can see exactly what needs to be done on a daily and weekly basis. Teams employ an intelligent platform like Knowledge Concierge™ to combine project controls with work management. 

As a result, new tasks are easily routed to corresponding resources and automatically accounted for within the project schedule. Project teams use artificial intelligence and machine learning to systematically learn from past data to predict and prevent risks. Reporting and decision-making that previously took months now take only days. 

Cognitive Excellence

Projects are first and foremost about people, not just technology. Human cognition plays a central role in driving excellence. All human beings have cognitive biases—such as optimism bias—that drive delays in projects. Cognitive excellence is about having processes to de-bias decisions and work more effectively.

Novice:

These project teams are closed-minded and unrealistic. Project leaders are paranoid and defensive; they reject any data that might question their narrative. They spend a lot of energy pushing away well-meaning help from others in their organization. 

Large, outward-facing components of the project are prioritized, while less visual aspects (negotiations, permits, safety documentation, etc.) are left out of the plan. Such teams may struggle to complete projects on time, if at all. 

Competent:

These project teams are more realistic and data-oriented, but they are not open-minded. When problems and setbacks arise, leaders resist changing the course of action. 

Project data is often heavily biased and used to justify existing decisions, rather than to inform new approaches. Overall, there is a misalignment between top-level project leaders and the day-to-day operations of the project. These projects almost always run over time.

Proficient:

These teams are typically open-minded but unrealistically optimistic. Project leaders are willing to try new tools and approaches, but they fail to integrate these elements effectively. As a result, their projects fall prey to complexity and over-reach. 

Risks, even when identified, are idealized due to optimism bias. Risk mitigation plans often prove impractical in application. Delays still arise despite many layers of technology, administrators, analysts and decision-makers.

Expert:

These project teams are open-minded and realistic. Schedule data is accurate and available at all levels, supporting organizational alignment from top to bottom. Project leaders use current and historical data to de-bias forecasts. Any risks or bottlenecks are anticipated early and mitigated with detailed, realistic, and trackable plans. 

These teams deal with challenges calmly and deliberately. They rely on data and external ideas to arrive at reasoned judgments. They prioritize tasks effectively and without bias. Overall, these teams are action-oriented and well-equipped to deliver projects on time. 

Achieve Excellence with Knowledge Concierge™

Knowledge Concierge™ (KC) empowers megaproject teams to achieve both technological and cognitive excellence. 

Technologically, KC is designed to help teams at the intermediate level and beyond. For these teams, KC works as a system of intelligence that ingests existing Primavera P6 or Microsoft Project schedule data without creating additional work for the team. Then, KC uses artificial intelligence to transform these records into mind-blowing insights, including:

  • Predicting potential risks
  • Prioritizing tasks
  • Identifying opportunities to compress the schedule

Finally, using intelligent workflows, KC suggests realistic, actionable steps for risk mitigation, so teams can deliver projects on time.

Cognitively, KC enables a culture of excellence for teams operating at any level. KC democratizes schedule data, which increases opportunities for learning and internal alignment. KC also uses historical analysis to reduce bias and improve forecasting. With KC, schedule data is more available, accurate, and actionable.

Achieve excellence in megaproject management with Knowledge Concierge™. Contact us today for a demo to discover how KC can help your team deliver megaprojects faster.