Project Business Automation – Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Adeaca Project Business Automation can be added to an existing Dynamics 365 Finance solution without much disruption.
If you have already implemented the standard Dynamics 365 Finance project accounting module, we will have to close off existing projects and re-create the projects including opening balances within the Adeaca PBA data model.
Master data and opening balances aside, a modest level of reimplementation will also be required as many of the processes you have attempted to implement within the standard accounting module will be replaced by superior Adeaca PBA capabilities. Because of this requirement, if you have not already implemented Dynamics 365 Finance, it is advisable that you acquire and implement Adeaca PBA at the same time as Dynamics.
As a rule of thumb, once Adeaca PBA is installed, project accounting and billing is managed by the standard accounting module, while everything else is replaced by Adeaca PBA.
Yes. Adeaca PBA can be configured to warn or block users when cost commitments causing a budget overrun are transacted. For instance, this may include when a purchase order is confirmed, when a shop order is estimated and when an expense report or timesheet is approved.
Yes. Resources are managed across companies and departments via resource loan rules and resource loan requests. Resource loan rules determine if a resource from department/company A can be loaned to a project in department/company B.
In case approval is required, the borrowing entity raises a loan request which is routed to the loaning entity for approval. Loan requests may be limited in terms of loan duration and a maximum number of hours can be set.
Inter-company timesheets and inter-company billing takes care of transfer rates between entities and financial approval.
Absolutely. The Adeaca Project Business Automation solution works off a central capacity pool where capacity thresholds for roles as well as resources are maintained. This means that capacity availability is visible across projects, departments, divisions and the entire enterprise. If a resource has overlapping assignments across multiple projects, these are called out as resource conflicts and clearly highlighted for further attention.
If projects are scheduled with infinite capacity it is possible to load roles and resources beyond their thresholds. This capacity overload is reported not only against the resource but also against the project, highlighting that the schedule is at risk because it relies on over-utilized resources. Capacity overload can be alleviated by manually leveling the schedule and toggling resource assignments.
If projects are scheduled with finite capacity (leveling), the schedule automatically incorporates scheduled delays whenever insufficient capacity is detected.
Adeaca PBA supports both capacity management at the detailed resource level (individual workers) and the summarized role level (job functions). Also, roles and resources are not limited to workers and job functions, tools, machinery and equipment can be defined and managed as roles and resources as well.
Yes, Adeaca Project Business Automation integrates with Microsoft Project and Oracle Primavera P6 via XML files. XML files can be imported into and exported out of Adeaca PBA.
The XML file is in the Microsoft Project XML format, this format can be used with Primavera P6 as well. This solution works well when collaborating with general or sub contractors. Although this solution works well for this purpose, for internal scheduling purposes we recommend utilizing Adeaca PBA as your primary scheduling engine.
XML import. When importing an XML file, you import the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) including estimates, constraints, predecessors and role assignments. A resource in Microsoft Project is imported as a role in Adeaca PBA. Adeaca PBA resources are not part of the XML format and can only be assigned in Adeaca PBA.
It is important to understand that the actual schedule from Microsoft Project is not imported. After completed import, the WBS must be scheduled in Adeaca PBA. In most cases the resulting Adeaca PBA schedule will be identical to the Microsoft Project schedule, but ultimately Adeaca PBA and Microsoft Project are two separate scheduling engines and an identical result is not guaranteed.
You can only import an XML file during the initial baselining of a project. Once the project is operational and transactions are committed against the WBS you are no longer able to import an XML file.
This means you cannot export an operational project, import the XML file in Microsoft Project to make changes and then reimport the WBS to Adeaca PBA.
XML export. When exporting an XML file, you can select between exporting the WBS and the schedule (full format) or just the task list and schedule (distribution format). If you export a full format file and subsequently reschedule the WBS in Microsoft Project you can end up with a slightly different schedule due to different parameter settings, calendar definitions and subtle differences between the two scheduling engines. In most cases however, an identical schedule between Adeaca PBA and Microsoft Project can be expected.
You can continue to export XML files throughout the project lifecycle.
Yes. In most cases, adding Adeaca Project Business Automation as part of the upgrade to Dynamics 365 Finance means you can retire many of the system modifications you previously had to include to make Dynamics AX work for your company.
The out-of-the-box capabilities of Dynamics AX in support of project-centric companies are so poor that project businesses have been forced into extensive modification work or moving central workloads into third party point solutions and Excel spreadsheets. Adding Adeaca PBA means that significantly fewer modifications are required and that you can retire most of your third party point solutions, including any interfaces between Dynamics AX and external applications you may have developed.
Eliminating modifications is an essential exercise as you upgrade to Dynamics 365 Finance where updates from Microsoft are automatically applied up to 8 times per year. If you have custom modifications, it is your responsibility to validate that the modifications work as expected after each Microsoft upgrade. With the Adeaca PBA solution, the validation against Microsoft updates is done by Adeaca, requiring no effort from you.
Yes. In Adeaca Project Business Automation, resource and role capacity can be defined by capacity pool. A capacity pool can represent any dimension you need to control capacity by. Typical applications of capacity pools include informal organizational structures, departments and business units to regional offices and physical sites.
All capacity thresholds and capacity allocations (bookings) are tagged with a capacity pool ID, enabling utilization analytics and availability evaluations at capacity pool level as well as across the enterprise.
If projects are scheduled with automatic leveling, capacity constraints are enforced at capacity pool level, ensuring that capacity thresholds are not exceeded for individual capacity pools.
Adeaca Project Business Automation supports certain estimation scenarios with built-in capabilities such as: WBS/CBS templates, bill of quantities and schedule generated labor estimates. This approach is sufficient for most Project Businesses, and is an advantageous approach because it allows for moving quickly from estimate to live project initiation. For other scenarios, our XML data exchange allows you to import estimates generated in 3rd party estimation tools.
Yes. Multiple internal departments can collaborate on a single project, sharing a single WBS and CBS. There may however be situations where splitting an engagement into multiple projects inside a project hierarchy makes more sense. Typical drivers towards working with multiple sub-projects in a project hierarchy includes:
- Each sub-project can be assigned its own financial dimensions enabling department visibility in general ledger
- Each sub-project has its own budget to which the department can be held accountable
- Each sub-project has its own Work Breakdown Structure and schedule to which the department can be held accountable
- Multiple planners can work on the engagement at the same time (one for each WBS)
- Multiple controllers can work on the engagement at the same time (one for each CBS)
- Each sub-project can have different contract line types. (E.g. part of the engagement is agreed on a time and material basis, other parts of the engagement is agreed on a fixed price basis.)
- Each sub-project can be linked to its own department which is required to manage inter-department and inter-company resource loans
Adeaca PBA supports embedding multiple Work Breakdown Structures into a consolidated project schedule and embedding multiple Cost Breakdown Structures into a single consolidated financial view of the entire engagement. Working with a project hierarchy thus provides additional controls and flexibility without compromising on consolidated operational and financial management.
Yes. The project owner portal allows customers and sub-contractors direct access to Adeaca Project Business Automation, which is configurable to limit each user’s access to relevant information. Customers can use the portal to review performance metrics and status information for their own projects, including the project schedule.
Additionally, schedules can be shared with sub-contractors and other external stakeholders via XML data exchange. Adeaca PBA can export schedules in Microsoft Project and Oracle Primavera P6 formats for external distribution.
No. Adeaca Project Business Automation is completely embedded in Dynamics 365 Finance – Microsoft’s enterprise ERP platform. It is not an add-on or separate application that is integrated into Dynamics. Adeaca PBA turns the ERP into an end-to-end business system for project-based companies. Therefore, it has to be seamless and completely embedded into the platform.
Yes. Budget overruns are tracked by cost category and at the lowest level of the defined Cost Breakdown Structure (CBS). Recorded overruns are subsequently rolled up to parent CBS accounts. Budget overruns are established by comparing budget at completion (BAC) with estimate at completion (EAC). EAC can be automatically adjusted based on actual costs and cost commitments but can also be manually adjusted to reflect the most current expectations.
User defined thresholds determine when yellow and red flags (Sensor Points™) are attached to CBS accounts with medium to severe expected overruns. Budget overruns and related Sensor Points are tracked and stored by budget period for historic audit trail and trend analysis. PBA users are notified of overruns in a variety of ways ranging from the costing sheet, to project level sensor points, project performance dashboards and workspaces.
No. Adeaca Project Business Automation is completely embedded in Dynamics 365 Finance – Microsoft’s enterprise ERP platform and works with no other ERP at this point. If you are considering upgrading from Business Central/NAV to 365 Finance, please contact us to get started.
Yes, Earned Value Analysis (EVA) is very much a central component of the Adeaca Project Business Automation solution and a natural output of it. The project schedule provides a timeline against which budget entries are time-phased for automatic computation of planned value. EVA earning methods are defined on Cost Breakdown Structure (CBS) accounts and defines how EVA progress and earned value metrics are computed, based on EAC completion, completed work or completed quantities. Earned value is computed at user-defined levels of the Cost Breakdown Structure (CBS).
Earned value metrics including Cost Performance Index (CPI) and Schedule Performance Index (SPI) are established in the costing sheet on demand and at a minimum as part of the month-end process. EVA metrics are stored for each month for historic data audit and trend analysis. S-Curve analysis and performance index trends are also provided in the costing sheet.
Yes. Adeaca Project Business Automation has a Power BI project management dashboard that visualizes data across a broad array of project metrics and KPIs. Power BI enables users of Adeaca PBA to access critical information quickly and create customized reports on the fly.
In addition to Power BI, Adeaca PBA has several native reports, dashboards and alerts embedded in Microsoft Dynamics 365, giving users real-time insight into the health of their projects, portfolios and the business as a whole.
Learn More about Adeaca PBA Power BI project management dashboards.
We have customers of all shapes and sizes from very different industries across the world. From small energy companies with 120 employees to large construction conglomerates with $5B+ in revenue. The key ingredient? They are all Project Businesses.
However, Adeaca PBA is an enterprise system based on an enterprise ERP (Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance). There is a minimum number of licenses (20 full users) and required implementation services that make it difficult for very small companies (under 100 people) to justify the cost. However, there are exceptions to every rule. If you are unsure about where your company may fall in the spectrum of Adeaca PBA customers, reach out to us and we will give you a fair and honest assessment as to whether you company is a good fit.
We are completely transparent about the features and functionality that Adeaca Project Business Automation supports. To make sure this aligns with your company’s requirements, please download our Project Business Requirements Document to see a list of over 400 features and requirements that your business system should possess.
Adeaca PBA includes several progress metrics, both operational and financial in nature.
Completed work percentage is computed at all levels of the WBS by comparing the remaining work estimate to actual work posted. Additionally, scheduled progress can be analyzed graphically in the Gantt chart based on the workflow status of WBS tasks and remaining work estimates.
EAC (Estimate at Completion) completion is tracked at all levels of the Cost Breakdown Structure (CBS). EAC completion is an expression of actual costs out of most recent estimate of the project. EACs are typically reevaluated at least monthly as part of the period close process. In many cases, EACs are updated weekly or even daily to provide accurate financial performance indicators.
You can also maintain quantity budgets against your project. In Adeaca PBA, the quantity budget is called a deliverable budget. A deliverable can represent anything you want to track progress against. Typical examples vary by industry but often include: m2, kg, miles, units, percentage and so forth. By comparing the reported completed deliverables to the budgeted deliverables, the deliverable progress is computed. The deliverable progress then is used to calculate productivity indicators and can also be used to make automatic adjustments to EAC.
The Earned Value Analytics (EVA) framework includes its own progress indicators, namely the Schedule Performance Index (SPI) and Cost Performance Index (CPI). The CPI reports actual progress (earned value), based on defined EVA earning principles, out of expected progress (planned value).
Project risks are tracked and managed in a variety of ways in Adeaca PBA. From the continuously updated issue register to formal month-end and gateway review risk assessments to 20+ built-in project health indicators, Adeaca PBA enables continuous tracking and reporting against project risks.
The issue register allows tracking of issues against WBS tasks. Issues are assigned to workers for resolution and are tagged with deadlines, severity codes and type classification for reporting purposes. A discussion log and revision control ensure issues are tightly tracked from creation to resolution.
As projects pass through schedule milestones formal risk reviews can be configured, the resulting risk assessment is published in various project dashboards. Likewise, formal risk reviews can be enforced during the month-end process along with mandatory checklists to enforce corporate governance.
Central to effective risk management is early detection. The quicker a risk is identified the more likely the chance of effective risk mitigating action being taken. Adeaca PBA comes with a wide range of project health indicators (Sensor Points™) monitoring everything from eroding milestone slack and resource conflicts to budget overruns and delayed purchase orders. Sensor points are automatically updated and enables project managers and C-level stakeholders to stay ahead of emerging risks and to take timely corrective action.
To make pricing simpler, Adeaca PBA license pricing is aligned directly with your Microsoft Dynamics 365 licensing. It is structured as a percentage of your Microsoft Dynamics 365 price, based on the number and type of users.
Implementation and services are priced separately and vary by your organizational complexity and business requirements.
Contact us for a briefing and we would be happy to provide high-level price ranges for your company.
Reforecasting is a central component of the month-end process in Adeaca Project Business Automation. In the costing sheet, the Cost Breakdown Structure (CBS) is accounted for financially as of the current period. Central metrics of the costing sheet in terms of reforecasting includes:
- Budget at Completion (BAC)
- Cost to Complete (CTC)
- Estimate at Completion (EAC)
- Actual costs
- Committed costs
The main objective of reforecasting the project is to establish EAC and to project variances based on current expectations and progress to date. EAC is defined by cost category and at the lowest level of the defined CBS and subsequently rolled up to CBS parent accounts.
EAC can be automatically adjusted based on actual costs and cost commitments but can also be manually adjusted to reflect the most current expectations. EAC can also be computed based on related project metrics like remaining work in the WBS and completed quantities.
Changes to EAC can optionally be subject to workflow approval. Once EAC has been updated (and approved) the budget period is completed and committed to memory for historic audit and trend analysis.
Implementation times can vary considerably based on your organization’s size and complexity, business requirements, and configuration and customization needs. If you have already implemented Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance, Adeaca Project Business Automation could be up and running in as little as 2 months. For a typical implementation of Dynamics and Adeaca PBA together, a 6 to 9 months timeframe can be expected.
Yes, Adeaca PBA provides a like-for-like alternative to using 3rd party scheduling tools, including Microsoft Project and Oracle Primavera.
Much more than just a placeholder for schedules generated in 3rd party scheduling tools, the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) in Adeaca PBA is comfortably able to serve as your primary scheduling tool, entirely eliminating your reliance on 3rd party planning solutions.
Built on the same base principles as Microsoft Project and P6, the WBS supports complex task networks including advanced predecessor settings, lags and overlaps, date constraints, mixed scheduling directions, finite as well as infinite capacity constraints and much more.
The embedded Gantt chart displays both critical path and free float as well as resource and material constraints. The planner can interact directly with the Gantt chart and adjust the schedule using drag and drop.
Schedule baselines and WBS change sets keeps track of WBS revisions and provides financial impact analysis of schedule changes as they are committed.
XML data exchange allows you to share schedules externally via Microsoft Project or P6 and to import baseline structures from external scheduling tools.
Being natively embedded in the Dynamics 365 Finance solution, the WBS and the schedule is also directly integrated with central back office processes like; procurement, production, inventory, MRP, timesheets, budgets, EACs and much more.
No. There is no technical limit to the size of any Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) of a project in Adeaca Project Business Automation. We do, however, typically suggest keeping each WBS at 1,000 tasks or less. Importantly, this is not a hard size limit but a general best practice recommendation to ensure that a full WBS rescheduling process does not become too time consuming.
Of course, a project may consist of much more than 1,000 WBS tasks. In such cases, the recommendation is to break the project down into multiple Work Breakdown Structures and subsequently tie the structures into a master schedule in which interdependencies between structures are defined and at which a consolidated timeline is arrived. In Adeaca PBA this is achieved by using the embedded project feature.
Breaking a large engagement into multiple embedded Work Breakdown Structures has the added benefit that multiple planners can work on the project at the same time and provides additional controls if multiple departments/divisions are involved in the delivery of the project.
Yes. 20. This minimum is based on the minimum number of licenses required for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance. Currently the minimum is 20 full users.
In Adeaca PBA, the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is used for planning and executing the project operationally. A separate but linked hierarchy, the Cost Breakdown Structure (CBS), is used for financial planning and execution. You can think of the WBS as the project planner’s structure and of the CBS as the project controller’s structure.
Typically, the CBS is less granular than the WBS. For instance, the WBS for a single project may hold 500 tasks to manage the operational deliverables, but the same project only has 50 CBS accounts to financially plan and control the engagement.
Maintaining budgets, actuals, commitments, estimates and variances at WBS task level is, for most companies, impractical leading to data entry errors and inflated administration without any added benefits.
WBS tasks can optionally be linked to CBS accounts. This linkage allows you to transfer time-phased estimates, remaining work and more from the WBS to the CBS. Additionally, a CBS account can be identified either by the CBS account code or by the linked WBS task code. This means that users unfamiliar with the CBS can identify proper CBS accounts via WBS tasks.
Working with dedicated financial and operational structures allow companies to define each for optimal operational and financial efficiency and control.
If you are a project-based company your bottom line is directly determined by how efficiently you plan, deliver and manage projects. As such, Adeaca Project Business Automation should always be included in the first phase of a Dynamics 365 Finance implementation.
While implementing Adeaca PBA can be done in later phases, it is not advisable because some level of reimplementation of the Dynamics platform is involved and it is more disruptive to the users. It is better to make the switch all at once and train everyone on the new platform at the same time.
For some companies, the transition from a highly manual and siloed environment to a completely integrated and automated PBA environment may seem daunting and a phased approach to initiating the use of Adeaca PBA may be a good option. For instance, while the entire PBA application is available, you could begin using the financial controls to start and the operational controls in later phases or vice versa. We will help advise you as to the best approach.
Think of Sensor PointsTM as real-time project health indicators or project performance indicators. Sensor Points are applied throughout the solution to draw attention to emerging trends and exceptional metrics. Sensor Points come with pre-configured threshold values for instant deployment but can easily be tailored specifically to your business
A quick visit to the Sensor Point dashboard will instantly tell a project manager how her projects are performing and if certain elements of the project require closer examination. The Sensor Point dashboard answers a wide range of questions such as:
- Is the activity backlog growing?
- Has the required staffing been done?
- Are we likely to meet our deadlines?
- Is the project maintaining an acceptable profitability?
- Are there any overdue issues?
Sensor Points are automatically computed via background processes so that up-to-date metrics are available to stakeholders at all time. Thus, the Sensor Points presents project status information without the need for data mining.
A Construction ERP is an Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP) designed specifically for construction companies. A Construction ERP should manage the core business processes of construction companies, including project management, project financials and accounting, project and portfolio analytics, resource and asset management, general and subcontractor management, payroll, and more.
Construction ERP software has been around for several years, but most systems do not cover the core of a construction company’s business process needs, which is managing projects. Furthermore, the top-tier ERPs simply do not offer a viable solution for construction companies. For this purpose, Project Business Automation was created to provide a comprehensive solution to project-based companies, such as construction firms, that encompasses the majority of their business processes.
The market need for PBA did grow directly out of the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) industry. While ERP is a viable solution for most traditional enterprises in manufacturing, retail, distribution, etc., it does very little to encompass the process management needs of Project Business, including construction companies. As a result, construction companies end up using many other applications to manage their core business processes, which revolve around projects.
Project Business Automation manages all those processes in one system, essentially creating a viable ERP alternative for project-based construction companies.
A Cost Breakdown Structure (CBS) is a breakdown or hierarchical representation of the various costs in a project. The Cost Breakdown Structure represents the costs of the components in the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). The CBS is a critical tool in managing and the financial aspects of any project and creates a structure for applying measurable cost controls.
The CBS is required to appropriately manage the financial aspect of any project. It is the planning structure financial controllers use to create budgets and calculate various financial metrics such as: estimate at completion, cost to complete, variances and earned value.
Typically, the Cost Breakdown Structure is missing completely in most project tools, including project management, scheduling and the ERP.
Therefore, a CBS is either not utilized or it is created and managed in a spreadsheet.
If a CBS is not used, then the WBS serves as both the financial and operational hierarchy of the project. This is a major financial and budgeting flaw for project-based companies. It is imperative to detach the cost and work breakdown structures. Companies attempting to manage projects financially and operationally using a single hierarchy (the WBS) are setting themselves up for failure. A single hierarchy contains insufficient details for operational planning and is too granular for budget, estimation, cost collection and variance management. Therefore, companies compromise on both sides and performance suffers as a result.
If a CBS is maintained in a spreadsheet it is completely divorced from the operational aspects so much as it does not represent the current reality of the project. Changes from the WBS do not flow through to the CBS and vice-versa. Therefore, the CBS and WBS are almost always out of sync.
Adeaca Project Business Automation has a dedicated financial multi-level hierarchy, the cost breakdown structure (CBS). This is the central planning structure against which all financial activities are planned and managed.
The CBS allows you to define the exact level of details required to efficiently and effectively manage a given project or contract. In order to provide one cohesive construct with the necessary level of granularity, the CBS manages and tracks:
- Change orders
- Revisions and transfers
- Estimate at completion
- Progress and productivity indicators
All budget positions are processed within dedicated budget versions against the CBS. Budget versions are subject to approval, capturing cost and revenue estimates, as well as cash-flow projections.
You can create project budgets using the built-in templates and formula driven estimation tools. Any changes to the original budget are processed as revisions, change orders or transfers. Adeaca PBA provides a full audit trail of all budget versions including estimation of deliverables, contingencies and undistributed budgets for rolling-wave planning.
Additionally, the CBS in Adeaca PBA can also be directly and automatically updated from the WBS and vice-versa. Therefore, if a change in the schedule affects the financial aspects of a project (such as EAC, margin, and cash flow), it is known immediately.
A Project ERP or Project-Based ERP is an Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP) designed specifically for project-based companies. Project-based companies include construction, engineering, architecture, engineer to order manufacturing and various other types of professional services firms.
The term Project ERP or Project-Based ERP has been around for several years but has not been well adopted and has thus been superseded by the term Project Business Automation or PBA. While similar in concept, PBA is more precise in its definition as a solution designed to integrate, systemize and automate the processes of Project Businesses. Furthermore, PBA breaks away from the functionality mode of traditional ERP solutions that were originally designed for manufacturing or similar type companies that have high volumes of repeatable business processes. Project-based companies or Project Businesses do not operate in that manner, and therefore a traditional ERP system will not work for them the way it does for those traditional companies.
The market need for PBA did grow directly out of the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) industry. While ERP is a viable solution for most traditional enterprises in manufacturing, retail, distribution, etc., it does very little to encompass the process management needs of Project Business. As a result, most Project Businesses use many other applications to manage their core business processes, which revolve around projects.
Project Business Automation manages all those processes in one system, essentially creating a viable ERP alternative for project-based companies.
Earned Value Analysis or EVA is the act of measuring a project based on the progress achieved compared to the planned progress and therefore the value provided or “earned” at any point in time. EVA is often seen a subset of Earned Value Management (EVM) – which is the overall method for measuring project performance and progress.
Learn More: Earned Value Analysis in Project Business Automation
EVA is a project controls procedure. It evaluates the project’s cost and time efficiency, thereby measuring project health and performance. As work is completed, the time and costs are captured and new estimates to complete tasks are generated. The result is a clear picture of how the project is progressing against the plan, whether you are ahead of or behind schedule, and whether you are under or over budget.
Learn More: 7 Project Management KPIs to Know in Real Time
4 Key EVA Metrics
Earned Value Analysis provides a common value scale to measure all tasks in a project and all project performance. Here are the 4 key EVA metrics.
- Schedule Variance (SV) – a measure of the difference between your planned progress and your actual progress to date.
- Cost Variance (CV) – a measure of the difference between your planned spend and your actual costs to date.
- Schedule Performance Index (SPI) – This is your Schedule Variance translated into an index that is easily comparable across tasks and projects. When SPI is above 1.00, you’re ahead of schedule. If it’s below 1.00, you’re behind.
- Cost Performance Index (CPI) – This is basically your Cost Variance translated into an index that is easily comparable across tasks and projects. When CPI is over 1.00, you’re under budget, and when it’s under 1.00, you’re overspending.
Earned Value Management System
EVA and EVM is best handled, as described on Wikipedia, “in a single integrated system” or an Earned Value Management System. An EVMS can provide real-time information regarding the current state of the project and accurate forecasts of the project performance.
Project Business Automation from Adeaca provides fully integrated and automated earned value management and analysis capabilities.
Learn More: Earned Value Management System
Earned Value Management (or EVM) is an objective method for measuring project performance and progress. EVM compares original or planned scope, time and costs to the current status of each of those as the project progresses. As a result, you know exactly where the project stands at any point in time and you can more accurately predict how the project will turn out.
Central components of EVM include:
- Planned Work – identifies the schedule of work to be done
- Planned Value – the budget and the schedule of its consumption
- Earned Value – quantified accomplished work as the project progresses (budgeted cost of work performed)
As the Actual Work and Costs come in, they are calculated into an Earned Value and compared to the Planned Work and Value. The comparison tells you whether the project is on schedule and on budget.
Applying EVM Example
A project is planned for a duration of 2 years with a budget of X. The plan says that 50% of the work will be complete in 10 months and 50% of the budget will be spent in those first 10 months as well. If 10 months later a project manager reports that 50% of the budget has been spent, it appears the project is on budget. However, after close Earned Value Analysis, only 25% of the work has been completed. In this case, EVM is indicating that you are spending twice as much as planned to complete the work and the work is taking twice as long as planned.
Earned Value Management System
EVM is best handled, as described on Wikipedia, “in a single integrated system” or an Earned Value Management System. An EVMS can provide real-time information regarding the current state of the project and accurate forecasts of the project performance.
Project Business Automation from Adeaca provides fully integrated and automated earned value management and analysis capabilities.
Project Business Automation (PBA) is a business process management software designed specifically for project-based organizations (e.g. construction, engineering, ETO manufacturing, professional services) that integrates all core project business processes into one, end-to-end system.
PBA provides an integrated and continuously updated view of core project business processes normally managed in disparate applications. These core processes can be categorized in 3 main functional areas:
- Project Financials and Accounting
- Project Management and Operations
- Project Insight and Analytics
The key point about PBA is that all these areas are integrated in one system, providing real-time data streams that facilitate the acceleration and automation of processes that is not possible when managed in separate applications.
Project Financials and Accounting – This area of PBA covers the financial management of projects and portfolios of projects. It includes, at a minimum, project costing, cost breakdown structures, budget management, estimate-at-completion, budget-at-completion, cost-to-complete, month-end reporting, cash flow management, revenue projections and revenue recognition. These functions are normally managed in the ERP, other accounting applications and various spreadsheets.
Project Management and Operations – This area of PBA covers the operational component of projects. It includes, at a minimum, work breakdown structures, project scheduling, risk and issue management, milestone management, resource management, subcontract management. These functions are normally managed in project management/planning/scheduling applications, custom-built applications and various spreadsheets.
Project Insight and Analytics – This area of PBA covers the real-time analysis of projects, portfolios and the business as whole. Since all functional areas are integrated, PBA produces time-phased operational and financial threshold data, giving project-based companies the ability to run their projects with real-time visibility and control over processes, costs and risks. It includes real-time metrics such as cash flow, margins, estimate-at-completion, earned value analysis, and variances on several key performance indicators in operations and finance. These types of analyses are normally produced infrequently in spreadsheets and separate BI applications, and therefore not in real-time.
The term Project Business Automation was first used by Adeaca in 2019. It married the terms Project Business, first used by Karlos A. Artto and Kim Wikström in a research article published in the International Journal of Project Management in 2005, and Automation to represent the systemization of the former.
In this context, Project Business is used to represent all project-based organizations, companies that conduct projects as their primary mode of delivering their goods and services to their customers. These businesses include construction, engineering, architecture, ETO/project manufacturing, and other professional services.
The market need for PBA grew out of the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) industry. While ERP is a viable solution for most traditional enterprises in manufacturing, retail, distribution, etc., it did very little to encompass the process management needs of Project Business. As a result, most Project Businesses use many other applications to manage the core of their business processes, which revolve around projects.
Project Business Automation manages all those processes in one system, essentially creating a viable ERP alternative for project-based companies.
Project Business refers to any company or business engaging entity that provides its goods and services to its customers through projects. Examples of Project Businesses include construction, engineering, architecture, engineer to order manufacturing and various other types of professional services firms. Altogether, Project Businesses represent approximately 25 percent of all companies and is a rapidly growing sector. The term Project Business was first used by Karlos A. Artto and Kim Wikström in a research article published in the International Journal of Project Management in 2005.
First understanding the term Project Business and how it refers to businesses that possess the same core operational characteristics is critical to then understanding how Project Business Automation is a solution designed to help manage these types of businesses.
The month-end process describes a set of processes undertaken periodically, typically at the end of each month. Most Project Businesses struggle to complete month-end reporting, including financial and operational KPIs. As a result, many forego it altogether, missing out on crucial business performance metrics and making regulatory reporting extremely difficult.
Adeaca Project Business Automation has built-in processes for the month-end procedure, automating much of the work involved. In Adeaca PBA, the month-end process includes:
- Reforecasting (EAC)
- Operational and financial risk reviews
- Operational and financial to-do checklists
- Formal approval of WBS changesets.
- Billing & revenue recognition
The month-end process should be a required support feature in any Project Business Automation solution.
Dynamics 365 Project Operations is a new SKU to be made generally available in October of 2020. It is a minor enhancement and separation of the existing project management and accounting modules inside Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain. Previously, we authored an extensive whitepaper on the differences between Adeaca PBA and the project management and accounting module.
For the most part, the whitepaper details still hold true for Project Operations. Project Operations is positioned as an integrated project solution for “services business.” We have even spoken with Microsoft product managers who have indicated that Project Operations is not for complex Project Businesses involving components beyond the simple management of labor resources, which would be required for any construction or manufacturing company.
However, even service-based Project Businesses will find the financial aspects of their needs missing in Project Operations. As the name says, it is wholly focused on the operational side, not the financials. If you want full, real-time financial visibility into your projects and portfolio, you need something more.
Most Project Businesses will find Project Operations wholly inadequate for their company and will wind up managing their processes in several different applications as they have always done. To become truly integrated, you need a complete, end-to-end system built for Project Business.
Adeaca Project Business Automation (PBA) supports the completed percentage and the completed contract methods.
Projects configured with completed percentage revenue recognition can base accrued revenue on EAC completion as defined in the costing sheet. Both the costing sheet and the revenue recognition process are typically configured to align with the financial periods so that EAC completion and revenue recognition are processed at a monthly cadence.
No – at least a lot less than you do now. Spreadsheets are great, virtually irreplaceable for certain tasks, and will never be replaced completely. The problem with Excel sheets is when they become an integral part of frequently conducted critical business processes.
Not only is the flexibility of Excel detrimental to the enforcement of corporate governance, Excel workloads often rely on data input from other sources requiring manual mapping, translation and consolidation of data before the workload can be executed and again when the outcome needs to carry over to other processes. This convoluted process means that Excel workloads are executed less frequently than should be. Furthermore, due to lack of process governance and the manual nature of the process, the outcome is always delayed and often flawed causing stakeholders to lose interest and confidence in the data.
Adeaca Project Business Automation helps companies reduce their reliance on point solutions, including Excel spreadsheets, by providing support for critical business processes in one end-to-end system. You will still use Excel sheets when it makes sense for ad hoc tasks, but much less so for daily, weekly and monthly critical processes.