Did you know as many as 98% of the projects fail to meet the goals in general? This increases up to 80% of the actual cost and delays timelines by at least 20 months.
It's a similar scenario when we talk about project management within Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management (F&SCM). In fact, the complex business logic and data model make it all the more difficult to get reporting and analytics out of the ERP. If you are a project manager, project controller, or an IT manager overseeing projects inside Dynamics 365 F&SCM, you would agree.
So, how do you ensure on-time delivery of your projects and avoid going over budget? Most of the time, good control over your project does the job! For instance, at To-Increase, we offer Advanced Project Management (APM) and Analytics for Project—a part of the broader umbrella suite, Business Analytics Suite (BAS), that can help solve this challenge.
While APM helps solve complex project needs, such as inventory, resources, cost, and work breakdown structures, Analytics for Projects helps control your end-to-end project lifecycle effectively.
In this article, we will illustrate how a project analytics solution like To-Increase’s Analytics for Projects can help bring operational and strategic insights into your projects in Dynamics 365 environment. You will also learn how that allows you to better control costs, overruns, variance insights, project portfolio insights, etc.
What does it mean to control a project, and why is it important?
Project control is a process of ensuring your project progresses as planned while keeping your costs and schedule on track. It involves managing resources and risks, planning, monitoring, and calculating the ROI to maintain the health of your entire project lifecycle.
To understand the impact of project control, let’s consider the lifecycle of a huge project. It starts with project initiation, where you’re setting it all up and preparing to kick off. You define the project, its goals, and timelines and then create a plan around it. Next, you look for resources that can work on it. Once you’re done with initiation, preparation, and planning, you get into the execution mode, followed by project closure, which are the two phases where most of the control comes into play.
Now, imagine this project has been flagged and is at risk. That would mean your project is either delayed or has a shortage of resources, all leading to cost overruns. A good project plan that includes an effective mechanism to control your project costs and schedules ensures the overall success of your project. Therefore, to achieve your project goals, it is essential to have the right project control process in place.
Why is it difficult to control projects in Dynamics 365 F&SCM?
Project control and governance is tightly coupled with insights and analytics. However, realizing analytics in Dynamics 365 F&SCM is a complex process, and it can be a daunting task. It's primarily due to the complexity of the business logic and data model. It’s also to do with the difficulty in extracting and transforming the data, which can take up to a year if a company chooses to do it themselves.
Moreover, data extraction and preparation require a cross-functional team that includes experts in business intelligence, visualization, and Dynamics 365 F&SCM, to name a few. Our customers at To-Increase have often shared that their main challenge is with the time or capacity to be able to bring all these cross-functional capabilities together.
4 Ways Analytics for Projects can help control and manage a project
With data penetrating everything these days, let’s look at a few ways that analytics can help manage your projects successfully.
1. Prioritizing your projects or tasks
To find out the most important projects/task, you’ll need to understand two things: (a) what are you measuring these tasks against and (b) what metrics you should be looking at. Then, you’ll need to gather metrics on each of these tasks. For example, you may be looking at what you’re trying to deliver with the project, the expected impact, and how that compares between tasks.
When working with projects in Dynamics 365 F&SCM, the ability to prioritize efficiently is essential as you’re trying to produce a particular deliverable amidst a complex process. Therefore, data becomes absolutely vital as it helps in setting the right expectations and priorities to drive maximum impact at the right time.
2. Prioritizing your resources
Another way that analytics can help manage your project better is by prioritizing your resources. For example, an essential part of managing projects is also providing an estimate and data on the project capacity so that you can ensure you have enough headcount to implement the project successfully.
A project analytics solution allows you to leverage data from your previous projects to show a reasonable estimate of the number of resources you will need to complete a project within a defined timeline and scope. This will help you figure out if you have limited resources, and then you could increase your timeline or, perhaps, decrease your project scope. So, generally, tracking relevant metrics for each project or task enables you to deliver your projects/tasks at the right time.
3. Managing stakeholders
Without concrete evidence, it can be difficult to buy your important stakeholders into your project. Data helps you showcase the true potential of your project and the value that it is already driving for your business. This will help them confidently and purposefully invest their time in the project.
4. Project reporting and metrics
The data points on how you were able to deliver a project with the planned resources against a timeline and your project scope help showcase the success of your project. They point out improvement areas and what went well, thus helping in comparing expected and actual outcomes. Therefore, overall, a project analytics solution enables you to create quality reports on the progress of your project, which is a crucial part of project management.
How can To-Increase’s Analytics for Projects help?
If you’re running a project-based business or selling multiple products, controlling your project is critical to your business success. So far into the blog, you also understand how applying analytics to your project data offers you key insights that can improve your decision-making capabilities. And that is the key challenge for Dynamics 365 F&SCM users as implementing the entire process is complex and time-consuming, taking up to several months. As such, you will need an out-of-the-box analytics solution for projects that can work directly within Dynamics 365 F&SCM.
To-Increase’s Business Analytics Suite is a user-friendly, plug-and-play solution that helps fill that gap in the market with its Analytics for Project package. Deeply embedded within Dynamics 365 F&SCM, the solution is based on feedback from various To-Increase customers and offers out-of-the-box industry-leading metrics. Furthermore, it is also extensible—giving you the flexibility to, for example, add charts or KPIs. From data preparation to complex data modeling to visualization, everything is packaged based on TI's extensive industry knowledge to help accelerate speed to analytics and provide you the much-needed project governance and control.
BAS works on top of the standard Projects module within Dynamics 365. Let’s say you are a project-based business that relies heavily on the capabilities inside Dynamics 365 F&SCM with their projects module. Then, using Analytics for Projects package can help you get deeper insights into your projects and offer better control, which is a key part of project management.
All in all, Business Analytics Suite is a pre-packaged analytics solution that includes department and industry-specific offerings for project, finance, sales, inventory, procurement, production, manufacturing, and rental in Dynamics 365 F&SCM.