The processes of forecasting, planning, executing and analysing projects are far more cyclical that you’d like to acknowledge. Think about it. To be able to forecast precisely, you will need accurate data history, and to be able to plan ahead, you need to know current realities well enough. This interdependence therefore must be the foundation for overall project forecasts that help allocate your precious resources, time and budgets to projects that are successful enough.

To help make project forecasting as successful as you’d like for it to be, here are effective practices to imbibe into your organization.

  1. Think long-term

Thinking long-term and planning long-term are two different things, as much we’d bucket them under the same category. With long-term planning that most organizations are too accustomed to do even in the day and age of agility, there is always the eventuality of stale plans that do not fit into the market fluidity you need to prepare for.

However, long-term thinking is the opposite end of the spectrum and focuses on ‘feasibility’ of an idea in an inflation-driven competitive market that is not likely to stay as true to your ‘critical path’ as you’d like for it to. Simply put, a feasibility study brings together technical, legal and financial aspects of the project under scanner and studies all of the various aspects to decide whether or not your project is worth the trouble. In addition to these aspects, feasibility also encompasses operational and schedule feasibility, thereby, aiding both decision-making as well as success of the project.

Thinking long-term qualifies the kind of projects you sign up for and as a result, lets you maximize the return you derive on investment.

  1. Automate and simplify scheduling

Enough has been said about the importance of simple processes and accurate data. Yet the uniformity of processes and the consistency of generated data are both largely elusive to a lot of project management outfits. As a result, the resource constraints that are factored in the beginning of a project and the ones that the critical path actually has to battle with during execution are significantly different. This creates a discrepancy between the projected value and earned value estimates. Ultimately, when the end product fails to deliver the value it was originally supposed to, this points to poor forecasting.

Alternatively, standardizing data generation norms for project resource scheduling will help make your base estimates, just as consistent too. That way, you know exactly how long project A took and you can have logical demand forecasts for projects that are similar in scale and function. In addition, the cycle of finding available resources within time and allocating them should be automated based on project demand and capacity, as well as the priority you associate with all those projects. Scheduling not only checkboxes an item off your list, but ensures that this item is delivered in the most efficient way possible which ties back to improved forecasting and resultant project success.

  1. Stay flexible with plans

Drawing back to point 1, planning must accommodate for the future as well as the current set of activities planned. This means, your project forecasting has to adopt a certain fluidity in the way that it distinguishes between demand and capacity. This fluidity can be bucketed under risk breakdown structure that is found as a part of the feasibility study or it can be a purely financial assessment that you consider as you study markets, inflation or a sudden influx of revenue.

Project forecasting must account for the velocity with which digital businesses operate today. Factors to study include shifting portfolio priorities, dynamic budgets and an evolving approach to resource allocation – one that factors in the contractor driven, hyper specialized gig economy dominating most industries. It also helps to have what-if analysis factored in so that you still can forecast the areas that get affected with the long-term decisions you take on seemingly ‘small-scale’ segments. After all, a project is nothing if it not a closely sequenced set of activities.

  1. Draw accurate reports in real-time

The natural progression from unified and accurate data collection is that of utilizing real-time reports. Real-time data is perhaps the only way to have some kind of grasp over your project’s realities given the complexity of businesses and the sheer volume of changes that occur. To go a step further, the nature of the real-time assessments you draw should tie-in financial, HR, operations, business development among other segments to give you a realistic as well as a holistic overview of your project status.

Data must evaluate hiring expenses and process budget on terms that validates the project’s business case and provides enough scope for the project to remain profitable even as payrolls face market changes. This will also need to access the time taken for project completion and then determine the kind of workforce alignment that you want to achieve. Such numbers cannot reflect days or week later. They all need to be generated in real-time to substantiate your forecasting and base decisions on more than ‘gut instinct’.

  1. Unify data for maximum impact

We’re currently surrounded by a sea of data. Data from the past, data to put future in perspective and then of course, the realities of on-going activities. However, the numbers themselves make little sense when they are on different realms. Unifying your history with your execution status as well as utilizing this heap for forecasting is a way to ensure clarity and success within the execution process.

In addition, it is necessary to unify data from across different departments and then utilize this data to verify your decisions, or weigh-in the ‘what-if scenario’ in case of changes to payroll costs, project performance or the program shifts in priorities. To clarify, this unification also helps you secure data given how having too many avenues to access valuable data is too a risky a bargain. Protecting data is, after all, your way of ensuring its safety for tomorrow’s forecasting decisions as well as respecting employee/ client privacy.

Project forecasting relies on data and agility significantly more than it did earlier. Your demands, in that case, rely on the systematic flow of information you create as well as the sophistication of tools that you are willing to invest in. Settling for free tools may not always be the optimal way out.

Article by: Aakash Gupta

  • "Casseo was engaged to provide both Programme and Project Management services to Capita Life & Pensions Services (Ireland) Ltd to define, plan, manage and control the delivery of a suite of initiatives to support the Companies strategy to be the Business Process Outsourcer of choice in the International and Domestic Life & Pensions market sector. In addition to the Programme Management assignments, Casseo also took on responsibility for the project management and delivery of specific risk and efficiency projects incorporating both business and IT elements together with the Project management of the Capita Internal end-to-end bid process (bid negotiation to legal contracts and subsequent transition/integration). All assignments were approached and delivered in a very practical, professional and comprehensive manner and I would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending or engaging Casseo should the opportunity arise at some point in the future." Operations Director, Capita Life & Pensions Services (Ireland) Ltd.

  • GE Financial Insurance (now Genworth Financial) engaged Casseo to assist in the delivery of a complex cross-functional project. The project entailed managing the IT Infrastructure and providing IT Support to assists a dedicated debtor recovery team that was set up specifically for the project. Based in Birmingham, Casseo leveraged excellent project management and technical skills to quickly win the confidence of the local team. Over a period of time, Casseo worked hand-in-hand with this team to deliver an outstanding result where significant more debts were recovered than had been thought possible.  I have no hesitation in recommending Casseo. Programme Manager, Genworth Financial

  •   "Casseo was engaged to provide Project Management services to ‘Prudential Europe Management Services Ltd’ and each project managed by Casseo during this period was delivered in a very professional and effective manner. Casseo also provided key project management services in the selection; negotiation and subsequent contract awarding of a strategic €160m Business Process Outsourcing agreement, which was in line with the Prudential business strategy. I would highly recommend Casseo to any organisation seeking experienced, practical and structured delivery of IT/Business change projects." Managing Director, Prudential Europe Management Services Ltd

  • " I engaged Casseo as I felt other vendors and recruiters just didn’t get our requirements and I haven’t been disappointed. We have established a solid partnership that I value greatly."

    Director of Change, International Financial Data Services (IFDS)

  •   "Casseo was engaged on a critical programme aimed at further enhancing Dell’s renowned Supply Chain model for outbound logistics in EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa). The Casseo team immediately hit the ground running and added immense value in augmenting the internal Dell IT team seeking to expedite this critical project.  They brought a strategic and realistic view of the possibilities for the project, as well as a professional focus on delivery of a quality product to agreed timescales.  Casseo managed a wide range of internal relationships, as well as cementing the external commitments needed from Dell’s partners to make the project a reality.  Throughout the project life cycle, Casseo always brought a practical perspective to the table when wrestling with a complex project, and executed creative and innovative solutions to ensure success. A very worthwhile partnership which I would eagerly recommend to those in search of external expertise and commitment in meeting their project commitments."

  • "When DB Schenker announced the $2BN acquisition of BAX Global, the integration of these two large organisations commenced in over 100 Countries across the globe. In Ireland, Schenker/Bax engaged the services of Casseo Ltd to project manage critical elements of this integration.  The brief included; IT Application integration, Network integration; IT Infrastructure upgrade and IT organisation design & recruitment.  Casseo Ltd played a vital role in each element of their brief, quickly familiarising themselves with the organisation locally and globally, building up positive and constructive working relationships with key staff. Over a nine month period through the mix of extensive experience, hard work, determination and the use of professional project management tools, Casseo Ltd made a huge contribution to the successful integration of Schenker/Bax in Ireland.   Throughout the project, Casseo Ltd provided regular progress reports to the project team and provided direct and clear advice on all occasions. Our decision to engage Casseo Ltd was recognised as a huge success, locally in Ireland and at our global HQ in Germany." Managing Director – Schenker Ireland Ltd,

  • Casseo Ltd were selected by Pioneer Investments Management Ltd to play a very significant part in establishing the PMO in the organisation (processes, systems, data) and in gaining broad acceptance for the role of the PMO amongst the IT community. The Casseo associate made a major contribution to adapting and tailoring processes, at short notice, to accommodate the diverse elements involved in a very large and complex change programme and also came with a strong project management background, which, combined with a good knowledge of the asset management business, allowed him to be effective from the start. The Casseo associate has performed to a very high standard in a fast-moving, multinational environment and has interacted well with PM, IT and business groups.  I would have no hesitation in recommending Casseo Ltd to other suppliers who are seeking a quality Project Management partner. Programme Manager, Pioneer Investments Management Ltd

  • "As a Global IT director with General Motors, it’s critical that I source high calibre resources every time. Casseo Ltd bring such a level of confidence and integrity to the pipeline of resources that distinguishes them from everyone else in the market. Casseo is about relationship building, getting to know our company, our culture, our management team, requirements and practices. They assist with the tailoring of job specifications to ensure the widest range of options are attracted to the job profiles. In addition to the existing Casseo network, their hands on screening of resources means that we have an excellent ratio of interviews to on-boarding and subsequently, shorter ramp-up cycles, improved business value & increased efficiencies.  Resources are not just screened based on their CVs, Casseo invests a lot of time to get to know the resources and this profiling gets best results, both for my teams and for the resources themselves. Our local team has leveraged the Casseo experience for a number of years and I would highly recommend them to any organisation seeking a true partnership arrangement that delivers results. " Global IT Director General Motors

  •   "Casseo partnered with Perot Systems to provide Programme and Project Management expertise across a number of projects in the UK Public sector and in the international education sector. These are complex Business Transformation and IT Change Programmes, aimed at improving efficiency and business outcomes and reducing costs through the implementation of new technology. Once engaged, Casseo’s associates hit the ground running, developing and implementing the plans, governance models and reporting disciplines thereby bringing significant improvements in the clarity and transparency of the progress being made in a short timeframe. The focus, work ethic and pragmatism of Casseo’s associates meant that as an executive sponsor you had confidence and clarity that the projects would be delivered and that our customers objectives and outcomes would be realised. The results and deliverables achieved speak for themselves across all engagements. I would strongly recommend Casseo to other organisations faced with requirements to deliver new projects or indeed faced with having to intervene or rescue in flight IT or Business Change programmes.” Director of Professional Services, Perot Systems

  • Casseo Ltd provided experienced IT contract personnel to Kindle Banking Systems. During this period Casseo personnel quickly assumed key roles in the development of the Bankmaster product portfolio, a leading open systems integrated banking solution that was deployed in over 200 banks worldwide. Casseo developed a partnership with Kindle Banking Systems that saw its personnel provide business critical services during a time of huge upheaval in the banking software market. Casseo services were also key in underpinning operations during the creation of Kindle’s Bangalore Software Services Centre. Technical competence, pragmatic project focus and flexible people are the hallmark of Casseo’s service delivery. I would strongly recommend Casseo and its team of IT professionals. Corporate Partnership Services Director, Kindle Banking Systems

  • TTM engaged Casseo at Board level to work with us particularly, but not exclusively, on Funding, Delivery Management and Sales Growth. The Casseo Interim Manager worked with us through two acquisition approaches, a funding round with Ulster Bank Ireland / Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS Commercial) UK and numerous Vendor Selection processes. Subsequently, we have appointed the Casseo Interim Managers as Non – Executive Chairman of TTM Ireland / TTM UK and as a direct result, our revenue has grown considerably allied by a massive reduction in our costs through various measures including Business Process Outsourcing and more structured Delivery Management. TTM’s Managing Director, our Senior Management team and our Project Managers have grown in confidence since their arrival at TTM. The Casseo Interim Manager’s rounded experience and qualifications has allowed him to truly work with the management team across all operational areas – financial management, sales channel development, project management, marketing support, technology vendor selection and in particular operational business management. We now have a much more structured outlook to the future and in our attempt to add more value to the bottom line the Casseo Interim Managers input will ultimately have an impact on the value of TTM as we move towards trade sale. Managing Director...[Read more]

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