Beyond Traditional Project Management

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Neal Analytics provides management consulting services that leverage data science and advanced analytics to tackle business issues. Having managed several consulting projects at Neal Analytics, I would like to briefly discuss how we manage projects in a way that different from traditional IT projects.

While the scope of a traditional IT project is usually clearly defined, the scope of a management consulting project is often subject to minute changes due to the obscure client needs (what the client want may not be what they need), technical uncertainties (such as new technology, new features, and imperfect tool functionalities), changing business contexts (the business situation and priorities change often resulting in a flurry of the scope changes and requests to accommodate the new business climate), and the complexity associated with the project itself. Hence, managing such projects requires more flexible approaches, a higher iteration pace and enhanced adaptability.

To iterate fast, the most crucial thing is to have a solution or multiple solutions that identify the basic and most important requirements but allow errors and missing details. An iteration will present the client with alternatives from which to choose what they desire. With fast iterations, we share the results openly with the whole project team and build ideas on each other’s ideas, while quickly obtaining feedback so we can incorporate changes.

As the project develops, we also need to rapidly adapt from model to model, approach to approach. Sometimes proceeding with higher level of uncertainty and complexity. The first several rounds of iterations advance based on an incomplete and limited understanding of the solution. Each iteration learns from the preceding ones and new solutions are discovered/explored during iterations. To manage such projects, we also need to make the client more involved in the project to ensure the team is heading towards the right direction to address their business pain points.

In summation a typical Neal Analytics project requires the project overseer, having the skills to manage scope creep, handle faster than typical iterations, and adapt rapidly to changes in the projects scope and goals. Therefore, the ability to work at fast pace and in a smart way are as crucial as our professional analytics knowledge and extensive business understanding, to success at Neal Analytics.