Preventing Data Silos Among Your Teams with Project Tools That Scale

Segmented, interspersed silos of data manifest where project teams across a business work independently — and even when team members within the same teams work independently as well, not sharing data that would be useful for the whole team working on a project. Project managers and senior management who witness this happening and still expect consistent project results may be in for a shock.

It’s impossible to get good, quality, consistent, and actionable data across all teams when data silos exist. The risk entailed is that the information you need to make effective decisions isn’t available, so you may be shaping strategy and making product and project decisions without seeing the complete picture. Data silos can negatively impact a company’s bottom line by preventing collaboration, transparency, and easy access to and roll-up of information on the organizational level.

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Silos occur naturally because of the way businesses are structured. For instance, each company has departments that report to managers who maintain responsibility only for that individual part of the business. However, none of the departments are truly independent, and each relies on others to perform its function. The company only performs well when each of these departments work closely together.

It takes more than a spreadsheet to manage a project successfully. When you multiply that by dozens of projects across numerous of teams, you can see that enterprise-wide data will be difficult to pull together, especially if you’re rapidly scaling. This presents a real problem for project managers and PMO. They are often expected to produce reports on the corporate level and to provide a holistic overview of work the company is performing, while various teams across the organization manage projects and record results slightly differently.

Data silos can be avoided up front with a bit of planning and the proper tools in place. Below are five ways to prevent project data silos.

1. Streamline your enterprise applications

Project management software can make a world of difference in combating data silos. If every team member is using the same platform, individuals will view and record data in the same manner.  Tempo Folio extends JIRA‘s project and issue (task) management capabilities in JIRA Software for software teams, JIRA Service Desk for IT service teams, and JIRA Core for all business teams, enabling project managers and PMO to standardize information and develop a comprehensive view of projects, gaining a roll-up of project and cross-project information on the organizational level. Managers can plan, track, and forecast project scope, including schedule, and team resources, and track actual project costs and expenditures during execution.

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2. Centralize your reports

Streamlined reports and user-based dashboards in JIRA can help users coordinate and present data in a standardized manner. They can be used to centralize and present data. With Tempo Folio, PMO’s can establish templates and metrics so that each project manager reports in the same way. This has an added benefit for stakeholders and sponsors:  they can get used to seeing data presented consistently, so it becomes easier for them to move between projects, and to gain valuable information to aid them with current projects and for longer-term strategic planning. There’s no learning curve because they’ll have that experience of how project data is reported and what it all means.

3. Build good working relationships

It’s important to remember that silos exist when team members don’t communicate.  Individuals don’t realize that other people would benefit from the data that they have, so they don’t see the advantages of talking to others about it. The better the working relationships between the teams, the more this data will come out naturally.

Finding and connecting with project colleagues is one of the keys to curing silo syndrome. Regardless of level, role, or region, everybody is potentially available to everyone else, and unified communications and collaboration systems provide this capability. This can be accomplished in several different ways such as holding a business-wide workshop after a project has been completed, or holding informal meetings over coffee or lunch. A team member can address a particular challenge and how they overcame it during the project.

4.  Create one source of truth

The single best way to reduce data silos, or even extinguish them completely, is to create a single source of the truth. Think of a data element that is being currently recorded — for example, timesheet data. If each project team is recording their own time spent on spreadsheets, you can’t get a company-wide view of how much time is being spent on business travel, meetings, or project administration without a lot of effort. A single tool to collect timesheet data, like Tempo Timesheets, will produce standardized reports and give you centralized data. Extending Tempo Timesheets with Tempo Folio, PMOs and executive levels can associate project costs with centrally tracked time to better understand how much product development and other projects are costing an organization. They can gain current overviews of all CAPEX and OPEX at any given time.

The first step is to identify what data elements are stored in silos across your business so that you can tackle them one at a time, moving them into one project management tool, like JIRA Software for all of development efforts, then extending based on additional business needs, like JIRA Core for your operational project initiatives. It can require time commitment up front, as it involves identifying the various silos and then knitting the existing data together into one standard repository, training everyone on the new process and managing the transition to a new way of working, but it really is worthwhile. Your decision-making will be far better with a single view of your business data.

Streamline your project data centrally in JIRA

Streamlining tools across project teams is necessary to overcome silos. Whether you have multiple teams working in waterfall or Agile, or wish to track all operational expenses across your HR, marketing, sales, and support teams, Tempo Folio works with businesses of all sizes to effectively and visibly manage and track project scope, schedule, and costs in real-time, and then roll-up cross-project information on the portfolio or organizational level, centrally within JIRA’s solutions.

PMO’s can implement consistent project processes across the organization. Project managers can better manage team allocations and workloads, ensuring that projects are sufficiently staffed and team members aren’t overloaded. Work efforts can be tracked in real-time across multiple projects, and project risks can be identified and mitigated as needed. 

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Reporting features available on the project and business levels give managers easy access to visual information, health statuses, and cross-project comparisons across business investments in real-time to ensure that organizational activities are aligned, and if they aren’t to mitigate any risks before they escalate and adapt as needed.

With aggregated information regarding planned versus actuals, forecasts, and positions related to teams, projects, and portfolios, visibility regarding organizational initiatives, Tempo Folio helps organizations maximize their profitability and return on investments, gain cost control, and gain necessary information needed to satisfy reporting initiatives and requirements. Get peace of mind with relevant, real-time data that can help drive sustainable value for your business.

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Jessie
Jessie is a New York transplant living in Reykjavík. Her motto is #ABL—always be learning— and having some fun along the way. As the head of marketing, communications & legal initiatives at Tempo, Jessie thinking about storytelling, building a strong brand, growth, teamwork, and grit.

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