Analytics is a Project Manager’s Best Friend

By Allison Traynor, Virtulytix, Project Manager

When an individual signs on to become a project manager, they sign on for more than a start and end date. Projects are presented in all different forms, theoretical, open-ending, risk-intensive, investigative, programming, along with new approaches for a project manager on how to manage its’ success and completion as soon as they wake up first thing in the morning. Project Managers are responsible for initiating the kick off for a project, estimating allocation of resources, determining milestones and delivery dates, communicate status, and provide the resources needed for completion as well as monitoring the risk factors during the project. As information becomes more advanced and diverse through analytic tools, project managers are going head on with data and information to improve their work environments. 

As the project manager of a predictive analytics team, a project can become more abstract in its direction and existence. Where consulting projects have a start date and end date with accompanying milestones and troubleshooting any sudden mishaps, the projects for our predictive analytics team can continue beyond the end date, with ongoing solution deployment, monitoring, and maintenance. So even though there can be an “end date” for the project, you and your team still need to make sure you manage it and log that is being run appropriately. 

Project management is all about methods and exploring every new possible avenue of strategic thinking. As much as project management is moving beyond the old-fashioned tunnel vision procedures, projects and your capability of tracking a project’s performance are just the tip of the iceberg. You cannot have a project without structure, and you cannot be a project manager without structuring your thoughts. 

What’s the best method? Is it Gantt Charts, excel sheets, analytics models, project management software? Any and all of these are relevant for today, and to be honest, I would advise that you use as many as possible. The greatest risk would be underestimating your capability as to how strategic you can be as a project manager. The top eight tools out there listed by CIO are Cyfe, SAP Lumira, Zoho Reports, TD/OMS, Whatfix, Asana, Clarizen, and Mavenlink. For a project manager at an advanced analytics firm, the first three tools are BI/analytics tools, which comes as no surprise. However, to other project managers, this may be the case. Simon Harris, CEO of Logical Model says that learning project management is an “organizational journey”, offering various directions and struggles, but those who limit themselves are limiting the project’s potential. 

Project managers should include in their skill set, cross-functional leadership, but also be subject matter experts in times when a project may focus on one particular topic. We are as open ended as the possibility of an analytic solution. The future of project managers are in pursuing the most innovative engineering of information to provide results that inform both clients and yourselves about internal and external projects. 

For myself, the most important takeaway is to continually expand my thinking, and to remember to push myself and project management outside the box. A project manager must set high expectations for themselves and set themselves new and harder challenges, because project managers cannot foretell where a project will take them. Everyday must be looked at how I can improve the processes and management of yesterday for the following day, using the incredible functionality and vision that advanced analytics can provide for projects.