How often do you look at the prices in a supermarket? The price legally has to be displayed, so it should be there. Maybe you’re lucky enough not to have a budget and you don’t need to pay attention. But if you are looking to get the best value and keep to whatever budget you have, the key information you need is the price.
Likewise, information is a key ingredient to maintain a profit on projects. Either supplying it or receiving it and not only cost data. Without it, who knows what’s going on or has been done? Also, as at a supermarket, where the cost is tied into the volume, perceived quality, lifestyle choice etc … Too much, or focusing on the wrong information is a bad thing, it gets confusing.
The thing about information is that it isn’t useful unless you make sense of it. It’s just a bunch of letters or numbers or marks. These words don’t mean anything unless you understand them! Just a bunch of straight and curved lines on a screen. If you don’t understand English, you won’t understand this!
Without understanding and making information real to you, you can’t make educated decisions.
So how do you make sure you make information become useful and real in a project environment?
This is a little abstract but I hope it works for you, it’s an idea I came up with to help me understand!
Information as an apple tree.
A tree takes nutrients from the soil, sun and rain to grow. These are the building blocks for it. This is the information forming into a tree.
Alas, no two trees grow the same, but you can control them. Prune branches, nip new buds, stake it to grow straight and it will fit the place where it’s growing, to be stronger or look better. If that’s what you want.
Look in the right places and you can predict where and how much fruit there will be.
Then at certain times it produces the apples, the things we need from it, the specific information!
This is how project information works.
At the start there is very little, but you have an idea what it should be. After all, we all know vaguely what an apple tree should look like!
As the project progresses all the different information comes together and it grows bigger. Like the apple tree, you can control it to a certain extent, to make it fit the project environment.
And then at certain stages you pick off the information you need.
How does this help your project?
If you control the information so it fits the project environment, you can get the best information you need.
If you look forward to see how your project is growing, by looking closely and see the signs, you can predict what fruit there is going to be.
If you can pick the fruit (right information) when it is properly developed, you can understand where the project is.
Then you have an informed chance to decide what to do as the project grows.
How do you do this? Well, firstly and importantly understand what information you actually need. Then focus in on the source of that information to predict and confirm when that information is ripe.
Don’t do this and you end up just looking at another tree, hoping it will bear something useful for you to use.
Maybe I’ve overdone the metaphors on this one … but hopefully it makes sense to explain a tricky subject that is very important to your success.
I'd love to hear your views, experiences and comments and if you're interested in finding out more, drop me a line.
Thanks for reading
Hi I'm Simon. I've worked in projects for a while now, either management or design. I love projects but they're frustrating. Hope some of this help you.