May 23, 2016 | by Wayne Smith

Business Intelligence for Project Management: Visualization (Part II)

In Business Intelligence for Project Management: DIKUW (Part I), the five layers of Russel Ackoff’s DIKUW model were described briefly. These five levels include data, information, knowledge, understanding, and the wisdom layers. These definitions were then applied to a spreadsheet that allowed a user to synthesize various data information for project management purposes.

Business Intelligence Software

This discussion is based on the functions and capabilities provided by several high quality, cloud-based business intelligence software applications. The capabilities described herein actually exist and are being used by thousands of companies. Business Intelligence software can be defined as a set of tools and techniques that extract, analyze, synthesize and transform “raw data” into meaningful business information. Business Intelligence software performs basic functions such as data mining, reporting, data analysis and synthesis, summary and presentation to a predefined format. These various summarized information are than presented in a visual graphic or in a “dashboard” format for a user. The Business Intelligence software can also present information in bar charts, pie charts, line charts, line graphs, scatter plots, geographical mapping points, histograms, information tiles and may other formats while also performing a variety of statistical calculations and tests to verify information.


Hypothetical Example for Project Management

The project management tracker contains all of the usual project criteria that are needed and required in the industry. This based-on-a-true-story project tracker is a straight forward spreadsheet, but it is big and cumbersome because it has 25 columns with description headers and 1,000 rows. The Project Manager needs up-to-date answers to four questions: 1) How many projects started later than the planned start time? 2) How many projects are in each planned project phase? 3) Where are the project locations and are they on or behind schedule? 4) How much time are projects actually taking to complete? The Project Manager must have answers to these four questions by the end of each business day.

In order to achieve these requirements, the project management tracker software applications must access the cloud-based spreadsheet. The project management tracker is than able to extract the data, synthesize it and present the data along with the necessary information that a project manager needs each morning. The project management tracker is also able to process requests, update status reports and deliver the information about the Project Manager’s project.

Defining Information Requirements

The project management tracker requires critical thinking and an understanding of the information to achieve the desired results for the project. Functions in the project management tracker must clear and must provide accurate definitions to make the project details clear to the manager. The project manager then performs an extensive analysis to determine the best method to avoid creating inaccurate results. The depth and completeness of this process will determine the level in the DIKUW hierarchy.

Question #1: How many projects started later than the planned start date?

There are three different ways to present project start dates. The first is a geographical map with color points showing each project that started late. Another way to present the information is a pie chart that displays the total number of projects and the percentage of those project that started late. The final way is a table that shows the total number of projects and the total that started late.

Question #2: How many projects are in each planned project phase?

A simple table that displays each project phase, total number of projects, and the percent of projects that are in each phase of a project. A histogram is another way of presenting the project information on one bar that represents the different phases of a project.

Question #3: Where are the project locations and are they on schedule or behind schedule?

An example would be a geographical map with different color points that represent projects and visually display if projects are behind or on schedule. The project management trackers enables the user to click-through projects to access more information about the time table status of a project.

Question #4: How much time are projects actually taking to complete?

Projects are broken down into multiple time groups. These time groups show how many projects are completed in (4 weeks, 5 weeks etc.). The quantities and percentages should also be shown to present the time table of projects in another way to the Project Manager.

A pie chart can also be used with each slice representing a certain time period. Percentage and quantities are than used to break down the different parts of a project into a project time table.

Another way to study the time table is with a geographical dot map. Different time periods on the map have different colors and are dost on the map for the user to get more information about a project schedule. A user can click on a specific dot to get detailed information regarding a project. In summary, business intelligence software can be used to visualize the extraction, synthesize and deliver meaningful and actionable management information to the project management.

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