Probably everyone who has ever managed a project agrees that during project execution you want real time information about the status of your project. This can be quite a challenge since often large amounts of data need to be processed and limited time is available to generate your reports. Still, it is possible to extract and visualize the status and performance using cost management software tools. Let’s look at some examples.
Breakdown structure report
You will very likely encounter long lists of budget items, commitments, actuals and other cost data that needs to be processed during execution. To ease the job of structuring this data, breakdown structures can help you. Below is an example of a breakdown structure report using a Cost Breakdown Structure (CBS):
Charts and graphs
By creating breakdown structure reports at each control moment in your project, say every 2 weeks, you get a picture of how the project evolves over time. This can be visualised in a graph:
We are looking at the revised baseline cost, commitments and earned value (cost of work performed). Each dot you see represents the total cost from a breakdown report. This is now comparable with the planned spending from the revised baseline. What’s especially powerful is showing this graph for specific parts of the project, by filtering parts of the breakdown report. For example, by only plotting the civil parts of the CBS, a more detailed indication of the progress from this discipline is obtained.
Key performance indicators (KPIs)
From the breakdown report you can also take differences and ratios between accounts. For example, taking the ratio of the revised baseline cost and the actual cost, you obtain the Cost Performance Index (CPI). By displaying it as a dashboard with colour coding, you can visualise this to get an early warning tool:
Many more indicators or metrics are possible if the cost management software allows you to define them. Using filters can isolate specific parts of the project instead of looking at the overall total.
Cash flow curve
The traditional cash flow of the project should be available for extraction as well, comparing spending to incoming payments. An example is shown in this graph:
From the report date onwards, the cash flow is forecasted using the planned and actual status of the project to get a real-time indication of your working capital the next months.
It is very well possible to extract real-time information with cost management software. The example images above were all created using Cleopatra Enterprise. Bringing your cost engineering department to the next level starts with a tool that suits your needs.
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