Data.Depicted Episode 2: Project introduction: who loses more?

Introducing a new person to a project usually involves making several decisions related to presenting the project. This action makes it readable so the new team member quickly understands the work methodology. Of course, this involves outlining what the processes are and what dependencies govern them. This is not only a challenge for the leader but also a team member who usually has to master the specificity of a given project immediately. Consequently, the two questions may be asked- how high the threshold for entering the project was? How complicated processes must be assimilated so that in a short time a new person can freely contribute to the project? We will try to answer these issues in the second part of our series ‘Data: Depicted’.

According to the latest trends, due to the changing market dynamics,  a need for rapid process updates occurred. This trend has an impact on the amount of knowledge usually stored in a manager’s or an engineer’s mind. Let’s have a quick history lesson. In the 80’s it was said that 70% of the knowledge used every day was kept in mind. Today, however, only 15-30% of the knowledge is absorbed into long-term memory.  

The story of a process

Let’s start with the fact that every process, even if it is not complicated, follows its own rules. We need to know how these processes are presented. How they are interrelated? Will act on some of these processes change the whole or only part of the project? Assuming that most companies develop their strategies based on collected data, they must present all the relationships between them. Therefore, when introducing new people to projects, the question is whether the collected data is readable? How it is presented – through charts or written data? According to standards imposed by the companies providing software that helps to organize data, we know that it is much easier and more transparent to work with charts, graphics or nodes. Building up the stories of processes using simple and uncomplicated visualizations thus supports not only the acquisition of knowledge by a new project participant but also information transfer by the leader.

Very often, the employee has many process paths to choose from, and the amount of input data does not help in making the right decision. Thanks to multi-level, interactive programs, it is possible to reduce the number of decisions to make. By cause of the custom solutions, the conditions for the modeled process can be kept in one place, easily accessible to process owners and auditors.

Why visualization is important?

People are used to the absorption of visual content faster than written. Rows of numbers, words, or long elaborates do not serve a thorough and proper understanding of any relationship between data. The data visualization makes it easier to understand not only processes but also the relationships between them. It also results in the quick familiarization of a new person with the project.

The multitude of data and factors means that we do not process data in many dimensions. Bringing data to a 2-axis graph is a real task, which can be supported by advanced algorithms. Business knowledge is stitched in the program so that ‘will not leave the company’ at one’s notice – a new employee will have a source of knowledge.

Therefore, having the right tool for data visualization and process modeling, each team member, regardless of their level of initiation, has a chance to act more independently. This is because all data is ordered in an organized way within the tool. It helps, in turn, to simplify the reading even complex data. This simplification is also aimed at finding easier and faster common points and examining the relationship between them in order to be able to make subsequent business and production decisions.

Often, data preparation guidelines are not the same as data use guidelines. Thanks to the processes digitization, we can easily transfer the results to ourselves, and the conditions sewed into the software at the outset eliminate incorrect or incomplete data. Also, it is possible to inform about the existence of such data, which may be difficult to notice by the new employees who do not yet have experience such as ‘at first glance’.

Who loses more? A manager or an engineer? 

It is a well-known fact that every action taken through the usage of a data-handling tool has not failed to influence other operating areas within the same project. Therefore, if we communicate efficiently using appropriate data visualization tool, we can quickly respond or examine the interaction of factors on each other. It is worth making an example from applications for the design of production lines or financial management. Any change applied to the work area can have a real impact on changing the entire project. In case the company does not have the right tool for data visualization, management struggles with extended work time on projects, inaccurate or mistaken actions of employees who do not have the appropriate tools to avoid the aforementioned risk.  A similar situation will also be found by an engineer who wastes time on analyzing and searching for crucial data and must aggregate them from many systems. He often makes mistakes and is unable to understand the relationship between the information he has access to. This is because an engineer does not have access to an isolated data work environment.

This well-known fact describes that no company can afford to slow down its processes. That is why it is so important to implement tools that will allow an immediate organization of the project activities and accompanying data. Visualizing processes, modeling information flow and introducing mapping allows the quick implementation of any changes and make new people into the project independent. Thanks to this, it will be possible to generate savings at the level of error avoidance and employee training. In addition, the project team or new employees will quickly find the right workflow, without long hours spent on drawing reports with the most necessary data. But we will talk more about this in the next part.