Monday, March 14, 2016

UniPhi 12 - Project Custom Fields

Business are constantly faced with two contradicting problems: 1) having too much information to analyse or 2) not having enough information to make a firm decision. The internet of things is rapidly removing problem number 2 and this is leading to problem number 1 being the main problem to solve.

In the first round of document and content management systems, meta data was tagged upon data capture. This has proven to be a cumbersome and time consuming exercise that has led to miscoding and hence the same end result of too much information and being unable to analyse it.

UniPhi's solution is to capture meta data at the project level once and then every time a new piece of information is added to this project, the meta data is automatically applied to it. The types of meta data that each business wants to capture is many and varied. To allow for this, UniPhi comes with the ability to categorise and create an unlimited number of project custom fields.

Project custom fields are classified as either being relevant for the entire duration of the project, or per financial period. The per financial period information is of most use for ongoing reporting purposes. An example of how this feature can be utilised is for including data in recurring reports such as project status reports, Project Control Group (PCG) reports, or statistical summary information. One of the nice things about the per financial period option is that UniPhi allows you to copy your information form the previous period. In effect this means that for a status or PCG report, the amount of effort required to update can be reduced through reuse of  information from the previous month. In addition, you will constantly have a reference to your historic data which is available via the periodic drop down list. If you want to know the status of your project in March of last year, simply select that month from the list, and you will find its status.

The flexibility that UniPhi offers when it comes to configuring your own deployment means the ways that you can use periodic custom fields is practically limitless. If your project involves building a section of road, your custom field can be structured to capture the progress made within that period. If your project needs to track safety incidents which have occurred, you can configure it to capture this information. You can even select a significant photo image and attach it to your project summary.

More importantly, once your valuable data has been captured within the custom fields, you will more than likely want to present it to your stakeholders. The way UniPhi enables you to do this is via documents, and more specifically via document template controls. There are numerous document controls that you can use to present UniPhi data in attractive document formats. In this case though we would be using the Periodic Custom Fields control. This control allows the document creator to display the periodic information in an output document. If its a text field, then it will appear as such in your document, if however your custom filed is a numeric value it will present as a table and display the number for this period, and a cumulative total amount.

The other type of project custom field is for data which is required for the "whole project". As you manage more projects over time, your goal will no doubt be to get better at managing them, and learning from prior experience is often the best way to do so. In the construction industry for example it should be entirely possible to know with a high degree of certainty how much a building will cost, and how many widgets will be required, and when they will need to be purchased.

As per this recent blog, we have enabled you to draw on your cost data from closed projects in order to create an accurate benchmarked cash flow. In that blog I explained the concept of applying additional filters to the benchmark data that was displayed, and as a follow up, I'll describe below how you can actually do that.

Remaining in the construction industry for a moment, let's suppose that across your entire portfolio of projects, you know and want to capture specific information against each build. A common category of information that would assist in understanding your project specifics is Building Areas. Typical metrics captured within building areas are things like FECA (Fully Enclosed Covered Area), GFA (Gross Floor Area), NLA (Net Lettable Area), etc. Another example of the category of information that will be required is Functional Units. The type of information captured within Functional Units will be distinct units which have a numerical value such as number of floors, number of units, or number of lifts. Typically these fields retain a constant value throughout the life of the project.

This unique feature, and the way that you would leverage the information captured within your projects is for comparative and benchmark purposes. Relating back to our cash flow benchmarking post; having this data available across your portfolio, means that each time you kick off a new project, you can conduct benchmark comparisons to validate the assumptions, and financial information that has been used.  UniPhi unlocks this information for you via several Benchmark reports. In the example below, we can observe a line of best fit for all of the projects that match our specific requirements. And, those requirements have been defined and configured by the administrator within the organisation. Once again, capturing the whole of project meta data once then allows you to aggregate any other numerical piece of information by this whole of project field across your portfolio.

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