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Episode 471: Project Business Automation (Free)

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Project Business Automation (PBA) is a category of business systems that are designed to integrate and automate the business processes of project-based companies. So if your company is in a project driven industry - for example construction, engineering or professional services - where you work on projects that are paid for by your customers, then having a PBA system is a must.

In this interview, Cornelius Fichtner and Matt Mong of www.adeaca.com discuss the basics of PBA: What it is, and what it isn't. (For example, an ERP is not a PBA system). You'll come out with a improved understanding of the issues that project-driven companies face ("Spreadsheets! Spreadsheets everywhere!") and how project business automation can help your projects financials, project operations and project insight.

This episode was recorded live and, as usual, we got some insightful questions and comments from the audience!

The Definitive Guide to Project Business Automation

This is the PDF handout The Definitive Guide to Project Business Automation, which we used as the starting point for much of the conversation of Episode 471.

Click to download

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Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Video Instruction

Cornelius Fichtner: In this episode of The Project Management Podcast™, we look at Project Business Automation.

Hello, and welcome back to The Project Management Podcast™ at www.pm-podcast.com. This is the live stream for Episode #471 and I’m Cornelius Fichtner. Thank you very much for joining us live today. Hello!

And for those of you who are accessing this episode recorded and not live, please do remember that this is a video episode. So if you are only getting the audio then please do look for the “Play video episode” in your podcast app, or visit www.pm-podcast.com/471.

Also, we have a handout for you. And this handout is The Definitive Guide to Project Business Automation. It’s an easy 25-page overview of what PBA is all about. If you are a Podcast subscriber and you have a podcast app on your phone or tablet or computer, then this guide is available to you through your podcast app. It should automatically already have downloaded to it. Or you can download simply by visiting www.pm-podcast.com/471 and you’ll get it from there.

And now, onto the main topic today: Project Business Automation, PBA. This is a category of business systems that are designed to integrate and automate the business processes of project-based companies. So if your company is a project-driven company and a project-driven industry, for example, construction, engineering, professional services where you work on projects that are mostly paid for by your customers then having a PBA system is a must.

And today, we are going to take a deeper look at this category of project business systems. We will discuss what exactly it is, why we need it, and what the problem is that it’s going to help you resolve. You’ll see what it is also and what it isn’t. For example, ERP is not a PBA system. And you’ll also come away with an improved understanding of the issues that project-driven companies face and how project business automation can help your project financials, your project operations, and also your project insight.

Video Presentation

Cornelius Fichtner: And joining us today is Matt Mong from Adeaca. He has been on the program before. Hello, Matt! Welcome back!

Matt Mong: Hello, Cornelius! Thank you for having me.

Cornelius Fichtner: Of course! Let’s see. We have a little bio here of yours. Well, I have to actually share it so people can see this. Matt is a Vice President of Market Innovation at Adeaca and www.adeaca.com, you’ll see the URL there at the bottom. And he is on a mission to create and promote Project Business Automation as a product category. He leads Adeaca’s thought leadership program evangelizing PBA across all project industries. He is the Adeaca resident expert on project business and how to create solutions to solve this market’s problem.

So much in fact that it was him who created and defined the term “Project Business Automation.” So, welcome back, Matt. And my first question to you this morning is this: What will you say are going to be the big takeaways for our audience? By the time we are done, what is it that they are going to understand better?

Matt Mong: I think it’s going to be about not PBA as an application but PBA as a concept and PBA as a category, and have a better understanding of what that means and what it means for the business if it makes sense for the business because I imagine a lot of your listeners are in those types of industries where it is a project-based company. And if you’re that type of company, your what we call a project business. So, I think that’s what we are going to learn today is this new category of solutions, this next generation solution that is coming down the pipe for these types of companies.

Cornelius Fichtner: Yes! Your company, Adeaca, obviously you are in the PBA business. Your software is part of that category. But this is not going to be an infomercial for your product but we’re going to be talking about project business automation tools per se and what they will help us do.

Alright! I would like to encourage everybody if you have a question for Matt, then please do use the chat on Facebook, on YouTube, just type it in. It will pop up here on our screens. We’ll show it. And Matt will answer your question on the fly.

Now, the one thing that we are not going to do today is we are not going to be talking about what is project business? What is the definition of project business? Because we’ve had several other interviews, one with Matt, where we talked in-depth about the definition and what project business is and what it means to us, project managers. Instead, we want to focus on project business automation today. But I think it is a good idea if we start talking a little bit about project business industries, right? Maybe, Matt, you can talk us through this and give us a little bit of an overview here. What are the industries where project business is dominant?

Matt Mong: So the traditional industry categories you look at are construction, engineering, ETO, or project-based manufacturing, and also all types of professional services. But then there are some sub-categories you can think of like aerospace and defense, a lot of energy-type companies, renewable energy, especially nowadays is a big one, where you’re building windmills and stuff like that so a project that has to get done and that is a project business. So those are some of the traditional industries.

We like to think of it as we compare project busines industries with you know, you can think of it as similar to say, retail business industries or manufacturing business industries like they all kind of get grouped together even though they may be doing quite different things. We think of it as the same away. So all of these different industries, they look very different but what they do is deliver projects and that’s how they conduct business, and that’s the real thing that binds them all together.

Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah! I think that’s the very important thing to state. You are in the project business industry if you deliver your projects and somebody outside of your organization pays you for that service. That’s sort of the overall kind of thing that binds them together.

Matt Mong: Exactly.

Cornelius Fichtner: Alright, yeah, alright! Wonderful! Thank you so much for getting us into the topic here by reviewing project business as an industry. And now, let’s move on to the big topic here --- Project Business Automation. Let’s start at the very bottom of this all, Matt. What is project business automation? What is PBA?

Matt Mong: So, PBA is a new category of business systems for project business, for these project-based companies, these project industries. So what it does is it integrates everything into the same business system for these different companies because typically they are using all different types of applications and systems.

PBA essentially provides one integrated, comprehensive business system in one solution. So that kind of defines it. We look at it as sort of the next generation of business systems for these companies. Because if you look at the history of what has come before for these companies, you can go all the way back to the 50s when they created the WBS structure. And then you can walk through like okay, they have created some project management productivity tools. And then they created some types of let’s say, project ERPs. We’re one step beyond that where everything is completely integrated from your operations and financials and insight into one solution. And what PBA has decided to do.

Cornelius Fichtner: Why do we need it? Why do we need project business automation?

Matt Mong: When you look at the I guess the problems that these companies face, it all comes down to this as the root cause --- their lack of insight as far as what’s going on in a company, their inability to track cost effectively across a projects as they go. Some of these companies don’t even report numbers accounting-wise on a monthly basis because they can’t, because they can’t close out their period in an ongoing project. Just stuff like this all points back to, okay, we’ve got spreadsheets over here. We’ve got an ERP over here. We’ve got a project management application up here. We’ve got resource management. We got time and expense. We got all these different things in all different places.

Well, okay, let’s rethink all these and let’s think it from the bottom up. Let’s build it from the bottom up. That’s what PBA is how it’s really different because it’s not just about taking all these existing applications that you have and connecting all your spreadsheets in some way. It’s about let’s build the capabilities to support the process of running a project business. So that’s really why we need it. We’ve got all these other systems, they are capabilities. They are not supporting the process of running basically a project from end to end in a business. Yeah, you can manage a project, but that’s not what it’s about when it’s your business. It’s about running it all the way through financial’s, operations, supporting that process from end to end.

Cornelius Fichtner: Right! And there’s really only one reason why you manage these projects and that is to make a profit in the end, right? So you’re not just doing a project for a customer because well, it’s a nice thing to do. No, the customer pays you. You want to make a profit. Everything that happens from start to finish needs to be in support of that.

This brings up a question that’s maybe slightly outside of what we want to talk about today. But this is a problem that we are facing right now because you’ve mentioned actual. You mentioned cost. We are starting to bring everything together into our system, definitely not a PBA. We’re very small but we do have project management software. Do we really want to put our actuals in there? Do we want to go into, we use QuickBooks, do we want to really calculate out how much was the effort? Do we want to make this data available internally? What’s your thought here when it comes to project business automation? How sensitive is the data that’s in there just for internal viewing?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

PDUs: Strategic and Business Management, Project Business, Project Business Management, Project Business Automation

  • Last updated on .
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM, is the host and the author at The Project Management Podcast. He has welcomed hundreds of guests and project management experts to the podcast and has helped over 60,0000 students prepare for their PMP® Exam. He has authored dozens of articles on projectmanagement.com and PM World 360. He speaks at conferences around the world about project management, agile methodology, PMOs, and Project Business. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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