Retrospective to event - Data Driven Decision-making: Potential and Risks for Project Managers
Author: Lourenço Nunes, PMP
In my experience, one of the most critical responsibilities of project managers is to facilitate decision-making. To avoid bias, good decision-making should remain as fact-based as possible, aiming to bring the right data, at the right moment and to the right people.
Needless to say that the increasing volume of data across the years has made the work of PMs more challenging. The development of data science, on the other hand, is bringing the project management community new means, as we saw in Rodolfe Dewarrat’s presentation, to apprehend this challenge.
Rodolphe Dewarrat is a mathematician, an expert in data science and owner of his own company IMSD.ch. During the online event organized by PMI Switzerland on 12th April 2022, he introduced the audience to the potential and limitations of data science applied to project management.
In fact, data science becomes critical in projects where the analysis of large and complex sets of data is a key success factor (think about airplane design, healthcare, online business, etc...).
As true as we want to focus decision-making on facts and data, the idea that impacted me the most during Rodolphe’s presentation, is that all our “rituals” around data analysis (tools, protocols, reports, presentations) could actually bring a fake sense of objectivity, leading deciders in the wrong direction.
Quality of data, data literacy within the organization or data contextualization are among the root causes to this loss of objectivity. In the corporate world in particular, processes, tools, as well as roles & responsibilities in collecting data influences its quality, and as a consequence, the quality of decisions.
A key take-away for project managers could be that when data science becomes critical in a project, the project manager’s awareness on data science turns equally important, to allow her or him to put the right effort and resources in managing data for the project, and hopefully avoid a loss of objectivity.
Rodolfe shared loads of situations he experienced in the field as a consultant, giving the attendees great insight into the daily life and struggles of data scientists in all kinds of organizations. And most importantly, it showed all the future or current PMP holders in the audience, including myself, the importance for PMs to get educated in the field of data science, to become data driven project managers and increase their chances of success.