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Disconnected data distractions and the power of 243

by Neil Davidson, Regional Vice President, EMEA and APAC, at Deltek

We are living in the true age of adaptability. Global economic uncertainty, an increased international focus on driving sustainability, and even shifts in ways we work are all examples of factors that have challenged many businesses to assess their resilience. However, for those businesses that do evolve to tackle this change, there is a great opportunity to diversify and build flexibility. Having a resilience mindset and leveraging low-cost assets will see them not just survive but thrive. 

A natural product of these resilient businesses is the emergence and visibility of strong leaders. From c-suite executives to small business owners, the disruptions have challenged them to make the tough calls needed to keep their business afloat. However, one person (or even a whole taskforce) cannot undertake such a feat alone. These decisions must be made using facts and predictive modelling. And that’s where data comes in.

Eliminating 243 hours of admin 

Disconnected data causes multiple disruptions for teams. When an insight is required for a client or manager, teams must conduct significant admin to identify the data, speak to other teams to source their data and then collate the data to make the required analysis. If this process takes 30 minutes instead of 10 and requests are made twice a day, that’s 40-minutes of unnecessary admin, which over a year equates to 243 hours, or 30 working days. 

With 76.6% of consulting firms facing the challenge of delivering projects on time, simple efficiency tweaks hold the opportunity to reduce pressure across projects.

Disconnected data decisions 

All businesses collect a huge amount of data. Data about their finances, their customers, their profits, losses, project data, sales data, employee data – the list goes on. The problem is this data, often, is siloed. Each department stores its own data in its own spreadsheet, in its own file.

Bringing data together enables teams to be more productive. Project managers can more accurately forecast revenue, manage profits and losses, working capital and non-billable time. For teams, this enables better time management and provides a clearer understanding of the wider company project success. For managers, clear actionable insights are provided, enabling team wide efficiencies to be made. For decision-makers, the insights provided can be leveraged for more informed decision making, particularly as costs continue to rise. These insights can provide a clear route map, rather than the traditional method of making decisions based on current circumstances. 

To access these vital insights, firms need to address their ‘disconnected data distractions’. 

Going beyond spreadsheets

To bring data together in a meaningful way, firms need more than a spreadsheet, which is static and requires manual updating. The key to true visibility is real-time data that can be accessed, by those authorised to do so, at any time it is needed. To make this data usable, it needs to be available via a platform that allows employees to access it in a way that is intuitive to their everyday user interfaces and stored in a way which is simple and easy to use, the data needs to be seamless to analyse. 

For project-based businesses, such as a consulting or A&E firms, leveraging a project management solution, with embedded data capabilities is the ideal solution for staff. The software supports employees’ everyday operations, enabling them to have greater control and oversight of projects, while providing the much-needed insights for the leadership team. Whether an employee is working from home, in the office or even abroad, accurate real time data can be collected, and insights can be actioned. 

An advantage of these platforms is that the total cost of ownership is significantly lower with single subscription, training and maintenance. Additionally, 19% of A&E firms say that operating profit is one of their biggest challenges and with financial margins set to become even tighter, accuracy of project-based data is vital. 

Real-time data input and collection enables everyone from manager to CEO to run live reports, which show the real-time position of a project. By using this software, a business will dramatically improve its timeliness; recording data in real time shortens all business processes vs waiting for synchronisation.  Should a project crisis or opportunity arise, the business is perfectly placed to react accordingly using up-to-date data across all its projects. For example, if inflation increased, the company could analyse the current profit margin on each job, estimate the impact of this increase on the business’ bottom line and make operational changes per project – and across the wider business – to address the problem. 

Or demand for services suddenly skyrockets in line with the economic climate, the business’ capacity is reached as demand overtakes built-in flexibility to facilitate growth. The management team could analyse the existing staff capacity across projects and identify the additional roles needed to be able to take on the additional work.

As disruptions continue and costs increase, informed decisions will be essential for project-based business leaders. Knowing where the business stands is essential for planning where you want the business to go. Flexibility and instinct have been vital business tools, but with costs set to increase so dramatically, businesses should prepare by leveraging data.