Before we answer what is Project Business Maturity, we have to first understand what we mean by the term “Project Business”. As we have discussed in other blogs, Project Business is conducting business by way of projects. That means that the primary service or good you are selling is completed through projects. Sometimes called project-based, project-driven or project-centric companies, these companies operate in project-driven industries such as Architecture, Engineering & Construction, ETO Manufacturing, and Professional Services. Fundamentally, running projects is the business model of these companies.
Project Business Maturity is about measuring how sophisticated you are in running a Project Business. If we compare to other industries, we can see that a Retail business or a Manufacturing business can be anywhere from mom & pop amateur to Costco sophisticated, depending on a myriad of resources and capabilities.
We want to apply the same type of analysis to Project Business.
At ADEACA, we look at 4 key areas to measure Project Business Maturity. Two of them are process oriented and the other two deal with systems and data. Of course, there are many parts of a Project Business we could focus on, but we believe these areas are foundational when it comes to running your Project Business like a well-oiled machine.
We need to assess how standardized are the processes in the company. Standardization is a fundamental precursor to integration, automation and intelligence. When we look at the processes of a company, the standardization continuum starts at completely ad hoc and individually driven to completely repeatable and enforced through governance.
We want to standardize processes around best practices in order to gain the discipline and consistency needed to scale. In a project-based company, scale seems unrealistic, given every project is supposedly “unique”. However, we find that even though the particular data, materials, and resources of projects vary, the processes for how a project gets done do not. We need to understand what can be standardized and push to normalize those processes as much as possible.
Integration is a question of how connected are the processes and systems between departments and different parts of the project and portfolio management teams. Do your departments and teams operate independently or do they have meaningful and effective communication and collaboration? One of the most frequently cited reasons for project failures is poor communication, and this happens because processes and stakeholders aren’t connected properly.
Integrating your processes unifies work flows and aligns the organization. Integrating your systems, gives you one source of truth that everyone can rely on.
Once processes and systems are standardized and integrated, that means many parts of your processes can be automated. How automated are you? On one end of the spectrum we have paper and pencil, manual driven processes, and on the other end we have an end-to-end holistic system providing one source of truth for everyone in the company to operate in real time.
Take a look at your current application landscape including critical business applications and systems for your project business including: ERP, CRM, Project/Program Management, Project Financials or Accounting, Scheduling/Planning, Estimation, etc. Do you employ hordes of people maintaining connections and manipulating data between these systems? If you do, you are not alone. Most of project-based companies are in this situation.
Do you employ hordes of people maintaining connections and manipulating data between systems?
But, we are here to tell you that even as a project-based company, you can experience substantial business process improvements with automation. For example, if you make a change to a project schedule, can you instantly realign your procurement requirements, know the material constraints, update your projected cash flows and notify your customers? It is possible with the right systems and automation strategies. You need to uncover what areas in your business are ripe for automation and which areas should yield the most business impact and look to automate those first.
There are two important factors when it comes to project, portfolio and business insight or intelligence: what and when. What KPIs are you using, or are you able to use with your current setup, and when is that data available? For example, can your project teams instantly see slack and material constraints, or is that not relevant? Can executives understand the profitability of the portfolio in real-time and uncover the problem areas that might need their attention? That is what you should be striving for.
In addition, how quickly is your insight available to you. Do you have to wait 2 to 3 weeks for your controllers to assemble data and generate reports for a monthly status meeting? Or, do you have all relevant information available to all stakeholders instantly? If you are using trusted, real-time insight, then you can identify issues before they become major problems and have complete oversight over your processes. You cannot control what you cannot measure. And, if you measure it too late, you cannot affect change when it is required.
Many times, customers come to us with no understanding if a project was profitable until well over a month after it is completed. This is unacceptable.
Watch this video for an idea of what is possible with the right systems and setup.
These 4 key elements of Standardization, Integration, Automation and Insight, are what we focus on at ADEACA when we do our Project Business Maturity Assessment. We have teamed up with Microsoft to offer this assessment completely free to project-based companies. It is designed to give you actionable insights into your processes, systems and intelligence data.
Key deliverables include:
Business process heatmap based on importance and complexity
Automation landscape diagram highlighting automation opportunities
KPI analysis with new metrics for greater insight
If you need to more clarity into your business and how to make meaningful improvements now, you should consider the assessment as a first step.