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What is Project Management?

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What is Project Management?

Before we dive into the pool of project management, let’s take a quick look at what a project is.

A project is more often a temporary endeavour undertaken by an individual or teams within or across organizations to achieve specific goals or add value within a specified timeframe.

That said, project management encompasses all those activities needed to achieve specified goals and tasks within the specified time. Project management activities typically involve:

  • Initiating a specific task on the lines of scope, time, quality and budget
  • Planning and organizing company resources and the workforce
  • Executing the project while simultaneously maintaining top-notch quality
  • Successfully closing the project while meeting the desired criteria within the given time constraints

Projects can be a one-time endeavour or an ongoing venture.

Challenges faced in project management

Organizing a team to work on a project without hassles is easier said than done. There can be challenges faced at the initial stages, during the execution and also towards the end.

The constraints can be related to the scope of the project, time management, quality of the workforce and budget constraints. Another challenge to tackle is to produce the results that compile with clients’ objectives.

Importance of project management

To successfully complete a project and ensure a comeback, following a structured and streamlined project management methodology is the need of the hour. This ensures efficient team collaborations and an organized way of working.

The project management you undertake plays a critical role to accomplish goals and also exceed client expectations. It provides guidance through every stage of the project and projects benefit much better.

However, it’s important to note that one size doesn’t fit all. Different projects need a different style of project management.

Types of project management

Here are some of the most popular project management approaches undertaken by companies depending on the type of the project:

Agile Project Management

This style is best suited for projects that require flexibility and speed minus the stage-by-stage approach. It can help find and rectify errors during any stage of the project. Projects with real-time communication and with less need for control benefit immensely through this method.

Traditional Project Management

It’s the classic approach to assess several tasks of a project with constant monitoring. It provides the scope to coach teams and to provide feedback. This style works well in projects where small groups execute the tasks and, minimal interaction is required.

Waterfall Project Management

Following the traditional method, this approach requires the completion of one task before starting the other. This means, tasks should follow a fixed sequence. Smaller tasks make way for larger tasks. This also leads to the growth of the team.

Adaptive Project Management

Going by the title, this methodology adapts itself to the project. The scope of a project can vary and, it can be adjusted as and when its executed. Companies can derive maximum value from each project.

Critical Path Project Management

Projects where tasks are interdependent on each other choose this style. It’s a step-by-step approach that breaks down the project with specific timelines for completion. Companies use this method to calculate the time duration of every activity. You can separate critical tasks from non-critical ones and decide the time required.

PERT Project Management

Program Evaluation and Review Technique combines with critical path style to enable business expansion. Every event and activity is analysed for the amount of time required and, realistic budgets are set.

Rational Unified Process

Projects that require testing and feedback from users that can influence production go for this method. Performance testing and evaluation take place at the end of every cycle. The project can expect to enjoy enormous growth and expansion in the future, including a complete transformation.

Critical Chain Project Management

There are certain projects where eliminating some tasks completely prove to be beneficial. This method is an improvement on PERT and critical path and is adopted by highly competitive industries, including the automotive and technological industries.

Extreme Project Management

Repetitive tasks in a project are organized into daily or weekly processes to reduce the time taken for completion. They are given specific names and, any requests can be incorporated in upcoming cycles.

Scrum Project Management

Used predominantly by the software industry, scrum style includes sessions defined as sprints. Small teams with specific skillset work on each sprint within the required timeframe. Sprints usually last for 30 days where tasks are completed accordingly.

Six Sigma

This method emphasises the need for an understanding of customer requirements and, improving business processes accordingly. The data-driven method aims to increase profits by reducing waste. The process calls for a comprehensive understanding of the underlying processes while reducing or eliminating any defects.

Crystal Project Management

This method takes a different route and lays emphasis on effective communication to complete a project. Extensive importance is given to the skillsets of the team members that are inevitable to complete the tasks. Unique projects with more flexibility can be created.

Joint Application Development

As the name suggests, clients join the project at early stages to collaborate and give ideas to the project. Both the team and the client can have brainstorm sessions and achieve tasks based on the requirement and the workforce.

Client contribution benefits the project immensely and enjoys several inputs throughout its lifecycle.

Choosing the best project management method

Now that you have a substantial idea of the types of project management, how do you go about choosing the right one for your business? As pointed earlier, there can be no single project management method best suitable for all projects.

There are several factors that influence businesses and, they should be flexible enough to use the ideal method to ensure maximum returns.

The following factor can help you determine which project management methodology is right for your business or project:

  • Your organizational goals
  • Your organization’s core values
  • Team size
  • Type of the project
  • Scope of the project
  • Project constraints
  • Your stakeholders
  • Cost of the project
  • The capacity to take risks
  • Scope for flexibility

Project management process

We know for the fact that project management encompasses:

  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Project Documentation
  • Monitoring and controlling
  • Closing

Let’s get into details of each of the process for better understanding and clarity.

Initiating

This step determines the nature and scope of the given project. It’s important to consider the business environment and its needs to determine its success. The following project initiation documents are critical for any business:

  • Project Proposal
  • Project Scope
  • Product Breakdown Structure
  • Work Breakdown Structure
  • Project Schedule
  • Analysis of Business Needs
  • Review of The Current Operations
  • Financial Analysis
  • Stakeholder Analysis
  • Project Charter
  • SWOT Analysis

Planning

Here time, cost and resources are planned accordingly to manage risks during execution. Thoughtful planning goes a long way in ensuring the success of the project. This typically includes:

  • Determining the project management methodology
  • Developing the scope statement
  • Selecting the planning team
  • Identifying deliverables and the activities needed to achieve them
  • Creating work breakdown structures
  • Estimating the required resources
  • Estimating time and cost for activities
  • Developing the schedule and the budget
  • Risk planning
  • Developing quality assurance measures

Executing

The planned activities should be executed in a systematic manner with proper work allocation. Managing human resources and other resources play key roles in this stage.

Project documentation

Every activity undertaken in a project should be documented to avoid any hiccups. Physical documents help keep track of various tasks, including maintaining the budget and pace of a project. It makes it very convenient to cross-check whether a requirement has been met. It’s also an effective way to monitor and control various phases of a project.

Monitoring and controlling

It’s critical to observe project execution to address potential issues and to take corrective action immediately. The process also includes the measuring of ongoing activities, identifying corrective actions and influence the outcome in better ways.

Closing

The final stage includes the successful completion of the project and closure of the contract. It’sthe formal acceptance of the project.

An important inclusion in this stage is the post-implementation review. Here, the team members take away important learnings from their experiences, useful for future projects. This stage helps analyse those activities that went bad and determine better ways to avoid such instances in the future.

Project management software and its importance

Project management software helps carry out project management activities smoothly. The software helps in planning and estimating budget, allocating resources, control costs and make decisions.

Project management software acts more or less like humans and assists in maintaining and improving quality and document important information for future use.

These are some of the popular types of project management software:

  • Desktop
  • Web-based
  • Mobile
  • Personal
  • Single user
  • Collaborative
  • Visual

The takeaway

The cut-throat competition in this digital age demands more than just advanced skills and modernization. Organizations these days should be flexible enough to adapt to the dynamics of the ever-changing consumer demands.

The only way to achieve goals and expand is through the thoughtful implementation of ideas and resources. Project management is both an art and science to oversee the timely implementation of resources to ensure desired outcomes with scope for expansion.

Business

What Skills Does a Data Scientist Need?

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What Skills Does a Data Scientist Need? 1

In this modern and complicated time of economy, Big data is nothing without the professionals who turn cutting-edge technology into actionable insights. These professionals are called Data Scientists. Modern businesses are awash with data and many organizations are opening up their doors to big data and unlocking its power that increases the value of data scientists. Data is one of the most important features of any organization which helps to make decisions based on facts, stats, and trends.

As the scope of data is growing, data science came up as a multidisciplinary field. Data science is an integral part of understanding the working of many industries, complex or intricate. It helps organizations and brands to understand their customers in a much better, enhanced, and empowered way. Data science can be helpful in finding insights for sectors like travel, healthcare, and education among others. Its importance is increased as it solves complex problems through Big Data. With data science, companies are using data in a comprehensive manner to target an audience by creating better brand connections. Nowadays data science is taking an important and big prime role in the growth process of brands, as it is opening new fields in terms of research and experiments.

Let us know about the much-hyped role of a data scientist, the skills required to become one, and the need to take data science training.

Who is a Data Scientist?

Data Scientists are the individuals who gather and analyze large sets of structured and unstructured data. It combines the roles of computer science, mathematics, and statistics to create actionable plans for companies and other organizations. They gather, analyze, and process the data and then find the filtered results. Their work is to make sense of large, messy, and unstructured data using sources such as social media, smart devices, digital channels, emails, etc.

In other words, data scientists are analytical data experts who solve complex problems through technical skills to explore what problems need to be solved with available data. They are struggling with data all the time and experimenting via complex mathematics and statistical analysis. Usually, data scientists are required to use advanced analytics technologies such as machine learning, advanced computing, and predictive modeling. They use various types of reporting tools and analytical skills to detect problems, patterns, trends, and connections between data sets. Their goal is to provide reliable information about campaigns and consumers that help companies to attract and engage their customers and grow the sales.

A job of a data scientist is also known and advertised as a machine learning architect or data strategy architect. Data scientists generally require enough educational and experiential background of big data platforms, tools including Hadoop, Pig, Hive, Spark, and MapReduce and programming languages such as SQL, Python, Scala, and Pearl; and computing languages like R.

Skills Needed To Become a Data Scientist

To become a data scientist, it is recommended to have a master’s degree. This means a very strong educational background and the deep knowledge is must-required to become a data scientist. You must have a bachelor’s degree in any stream such as computer science, Physical science, social science, statistics, and mathematics or engineering.

The skills required to become a data scientist are categorized into technical and non-technical. Some of them are mentioned below:

Technical Skills

● R Programming

R is specially designed for data science to deal with big data. It is generally preferred for data science to gain in-depth knowledge of analytical tools. Almost 43% of data scientists are using R to solve data problems and statistical issues.

● Python Coding

The most required technical skill to become a data scientist is having the knowledge of the most common coding language that is Python along with C, C++, Java, and Pearl.

● Hadoop Platform

It is the second most important skill to be a data scientist. This platform is heavily used in several cases. Hadoop is used to convey the data quickly to different servers.

● Apache Spark

It is becoming the most popular big data technology in the whole world. Just like Hadoop, it is a big data computation framework, but it is faster.

● SQL Database/Coding

With SQL database and coding, data scientists are able to write and execute complex queries in SQL.

● Data Visualization

A data scientist can visualize the data with data visualization with tools such as ggplot, d3.js and Matplottlib, and Tableau.

● Machine Learning and AI

Machine learning techniques include reinforcement learning, neural networks, adversarial learnings, etc. Along with it, supervised machine learning, decision trees, logistic regression can help you stay ahead from other data scientists.

Non-Technical Skills

There are also some non-technical skills such as Intellectual curiosity, Communication skills, Business acumen, Teamwork, etc. that can make you a successful data scientist.

Ready to Learn Data Science?

Data Science is nowadays a buzzing word in the IT sector. It has become an evolutionary technology that everyone is talking about. Several people want to become data scientists. It is a versatile career that is used in many sectors such as health-care, banking, e-commerce industries, consultancy services, etc. This career is one of the most highly paid careers. Data science careers have been always in high demand so the seekers have numerous opportunities to start or boost their careers.

It is a widely abundant field and has vast career opportunities because there are very few people who have the required certifications and skill-set to become a complete data scientist. You can gain these skills by enrolling in an online data science training program. By learning from industry experts, you will have a strong foundation of data science concepts. You’ll also be able to work on different data science tools and industry projects through a training course. So it’s the right time to get certification and grab the golden opportunities in the Data Science career.

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How to use data to protect and power your business

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How to use data to protect and power your business 2

By Dave Parker, Group Head of Data Governance, Arrow Global

Employees need to access data to do their jobs. But as data governance professionals, it’s our job to protect it. Therefore, we must perform a fine balancing act to weigh robust data protection against the productivity of workers who need the data to maintain business-as-usual working processes.

Data grows exponentially, and most organisations will admit that they simply don’t know what data they have, where it is, and the controls that exist around it. This creates 2 challenges:

  1. Burgeoning amounts of unstructured data makes the business increasingly vulnerable from external attackers or internal data breaches.
  2. Because data is the key to understanding a customer’s wants and needs, if the business can’t identify its data and unlock its value, it’s at a competitive disadvantage.

As a European investor and alternative asset manager, here at Arrow Global we take care of £50bn of assets and own a data estate exceeding 160TB. How we manage our data is key to our success. We understand the difficulties involved in opening up environments to allow people to work productively, while at the same time locking them down to protect our organisation.

When it comes to analytics, I believe that Arrow is highly proficient because we employ a talented team of data scientists. But even for us, the sheer volume of raw and processed data, that resides in both our structured systems and unstructured data repositories, has the potential to put our business at risk.

We know there’s always more that can be done to strengthen our security posture and ensure regulatory and contractual compliance, while at the same time using our data to drive the business forward.

Data protection isn’t just about compliance

For many organisations, data protection has centred on demonstrating compliance with the GDPR. At Arrow, our efforts have gone one step further to include our contractual exposure.

Being a more mature data organisation, we had previously tried to develop an application in-house to manage our data estate. However, with 160TB across the company in production data alone, we simply couldn’t achieve the scale we needed to handle the sheer volume of data. Of course, the volume is just the start – once you know what data you have, you then need to be able to categorise the data and put it into a structure, so the business can analyse it for a specific use case.

We knew we needed to go to market to find an industrial-strength data discovery product to replace our in-house application. By aligning our choice of product to our overall IT and change strategy, meant that ultimately, we ended up with a far better outcome than we’d anticipated.

Position data as both a risk and an asset

Data touches every part of an organisation, so when it came to building a business case for buying-in a data discovery software platform, we approached it in a way that would speak to different people at the same time. We did this by posing the question:

“What do we want to do with data in a way that is GDPR-compliant, contractually-compliant and enables us to better service our clients?”

These are the black and white tests of data governance – to recognise the importance of securing and protecting data. They’re applied in a way that enables us to commoditise data and use it to drive the business forward, by forcing us to consider how we would use the data – for example, creating value-based pricing for our clients.

In aligning the business case to initiatives that were already priorities within the boardroom, we knew that we’d gain the attention of the senior leadership team and it would be easier to get the buy-in and budget we needed. And in the end, everyone wins – we get what we need to protect the data, and the business gets to distil the data’s value to better meet our customers’ expectations.

Dave Parker

Dave Parker

Get visibility of data at scale

For us, things got really exciting once we were able to see all of our data at scale. We chose Exonar because it allowed us to discover our data in ways that other products couldn’t. And the interface between the user and Exonar meant that everyone – both technical and non-technical users – could understand the technology and the findings it revealed.

When we saw exactly what data was in the estate, where it was and who had access to it, data security became much easier and the risk of data being compromised was dramatically reduced. We can see exactly where the vulnerabilities are and restructure how our data is stored to strengthen security. Then over time, we can use search, workflow and analysis to optimise the infrastructure and continually identify new areas to improve.

Commercialise the data

From a wider-business perspective, once people can see the data, they can start asking “What if…” to query it and distil its value. But it’s more than just the data itself. It’s not uncommon for data relating to the same thing to exist in unconnected systems across the business. For example, customer interactions and incidents or events.

Exonar is capable of joining the dots in disparate data sets. By stitching these data sets together, we can get a better overall view of our customers and use the outcomes to think of new, different or better ways of serving them through enhancing or adapting our offerings.

Why other financial services businesses should also take a smarter approach to data

  1. By changing the way you approach data, you can use it to protect and power your business and the people you serve.
  2. By positioning data as both a risk and an asset, you elevate its position to give it priority in the boardroom. Ultimately, it’s data that helps the business make informed strategic decisions about how to strengthen its competitive advantage.
  3. By gaining visibility of data at scale, you can see exactly what data you have and where it is. This gives the business confidence about the actions needed to ensure it is secured in both a regulatory and contractually compliant way, and that people are doing the right thing with data at all times.
  4. And joining different data sets provides you with a single view of ‘X’ within your data, no matter where it is. Helping to support your wider-business strategy and priorities, it gives you the information you need to secure a business advantage and generate value.
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How business leaders can find the right balance between human and bot when investing in AI

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How business leaders can find the right balance between human and bot when investing in AI 3

By Andrew White is the ANZ Country Manager of business transformation solutions provider, Signavio

The digital world moves quickly. From keeping up with consumer behaviour patterns, to regulation and compliance, the most successful organisations are always on the cutting-edge of technological developments.

However, when it comes to investing in artificial intelligence (AI), a hard and fast strategy does not guarantee a top spot amongst the league of tech greats. Instead, it pays to take a considered approach to balancing reliance on automated processes with a human touch. Why? Because creative and strategic thinkers are the true propellers of innovation; automation is simply the enabler.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) developed the ‘Routine Task Intensity’ (RTI) index as a measure of which processes are likely to benefit most from automation. According to this metric, jobs requiring analytical, strategic, communicational and technical skills score low on the RTI index, while simple, repetitive tasks scored highly.

The lesson for business leaders here is simple; your digital investments are just as important as your stake in talent. When deciding which processes to automate, start simple, and remember to value the skills and potential of your people.

Keep customer-centricity at your core

Customer-centricity means that every business decision, dollar spent and new hire is centred on one question: how does this benefit my customer? Investments in AI are no different. To be truly successful, they must have a customer-focused outcome.

Where companies get this wrong is by implementing cost-saving measures or ‘copy and paste’ software that fails to improve the customer experience – often having the adverse effect.

Take the virtual chat-bot, for example; if implemented poorly, it can send your customers into a frustrating and seemingly infinite cycle of dead-ends. The modern consumer is far too digitally savvy for this shortcut, and will quickly move onto the next merchant offering a more seamless customer service experience.

To guarantee your investments are delighting rather than infuriating your customers, it helps to take an outside-in perspective of your business processes, aided by Customer Journey Mapping (CJM).

Before you commit to digital investments, CJM can trace and map each customer touchpoint, signalling pain points or conversion rates throughout their journey. These data-driven insights lead you to the areas that would benefit the most from automation, instead of implementing a broad band-aid solution.

Avoid the ‘set and forget’ method 

When investing in enterprise-wide AI, the ‘set and forget’ method rarely works. Real transformation requires an ongoing dedication to refining and improving AI-driven processes, as well as adapting them to the evolving needs of your customers. This is the best way to achieve customer loyalty, by proving that your organisation listens to, and understands its users.

A human perspective is invaluable here, paired with process mining – a method that thrives on finding process inefficiencies – to create a consistent feedback loop of improvement.

During periods of uncertainty, customer loyalty is everything, so aim to protect it at all costs.

The power of your people

The rise of automation can be linked to the corporate world’s obsession with speed and efficiency. However, the psychology behind this goes deeper than being the biggest and fastest producer; it’s also about reallocating resources into attracting and retaining the brilliant minds that drive companies into the future.

When communicating digital change, it’s critical to highlight the valuable impact AI has on augmenting jobs; removing the burden of mundane, repetitive tasks and allowing for more strategic skill-sets to shine through. For lower-skilled workers, invest in upskilling or re-education where possible.

Successfully rolling-out digital transformation plans means that every employee across all tiers of your company understands the value of AI. The starting point here is education to achieve buy-in. Change communications must be accessible, constructive and value-focused, supported by key culture influencers who champion automation within teams.

Enterprise-wide buy-in is an important element of refining and improving digital processes, as cross-functional collaboration can offer valuable insights into common pain points or inefficiencies ripe for automation. Supported by process mining, collaboration provides a holistic view of how each investment will impact other processes. There is no point investing in automation that streamlines one process and makes another more people-centric, so be sure to take a balanced approach to your investments.

Remember, AI is not about creating an army of robot workers; it’s about increasing efficiency and productivity so that an organisation, and its people, can work smarter.

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