8 February, 2024

What is Predictive Analytics? …especially in Project Management

In this video, I answer the question, what is Predictive Analytics? And I look at its application to Project Management.

This video is safe for viewing in the workplace.

This is learning, so, sit back and enjoy

Predictive Analytics

Descriptive Analytics, Prescriptive Analytics, and Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics is an approach to figuring out what is likely to happen in the future. It uses statistical data and modeling to provide probabilistic estimates.

We can compare it at one extreme with Descriptive Analytics, which harnesses existing data to describe what has already happened.

At the other extreme, we can compare it with Prescriptive Analytics, which aims for ‘certainty’ in choosing what course of action we should take, using simulations, mathematical models, and machine learning.

So, descriptive analytics is – relatively speaking – easy. Modern data and business intelligence tools like PowerBI and Tableau allow us to collate, analyze, and interpret vast amounts of data to describe events.

And Prescriptive Analytics is clearly the end goal – to approach certainty in our analysis.

With Predictive Analytics, we hope to bridge the gap.

Focus on Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics starts with current and historical data and searches for patterns. The presumption is that patterns that have repeated, may repeat again.

If we can make a prediction, we can deploy project resources to prepare for future threats and opportunities. This is valuable to us in planning, risk management, and business case evaluation.

Predictive analytics techniques are widely used in industries and disciplines, like financial services and insurance, pharmaceuticals, marketing – particularly in consumer businesses, and weather forecasting.

Predictive Analytics uses methodologies like decision trees, regression analysis, and neural networks. So, although predictive analytics is not the same as machine learning, machine learning software is used in predictive analytics. It was recently reported that Machine learning models are faster and more accurate in forecasting major weather events, and can do so one, two, or even three days further ahead than the vast systems modeling approaches we have been developing over the course of my lifetime.

Predictive Analytics in Project Management

The obvious arena for predictive analytics in the Project Management domain is scheduling. Here, machine learning tools can assimilate data from hundreds or even thousands of project schedules and their outcomes.

From this, they can not only develop viable schedules, but also highlight the places where the schedule is most likely to be at risk.

And, if we collect performance data in real-time, predictive analytics tools can update risk assessments and schedules in real-time too.

But it goes further. In the construction sector, there is a strong dependency between the project schedule and the weather. But we already know that machine learning is getting good at weather forecasting, meaning real-time schedule adjustments can take account of the way weather systems are evolving.

The Deloitte Approach to Managing Project Risk with Predictive Analytics

The other main arena for predictive analytics in project management at the moment is in risk management. Deloitte has a five-stage methodology for managing project risk with predictive analytics at its heart:

  1. Assess inherent project complexity and risk
  2. Conduct structured interviews and a full document review
  3. Carry out a project review using a predictive analytics tool
  4. Analyze the output  and identify improvements to your risk controls
  5. Report on findings and recommendations

Deloitte claims that Predictive Project Analytics has helped organizations bring over $120 billion of project investment to a successful and effective conclusion.

Carefully curated recommendations for you:

Get our Artificial Intelligence & Project Management Professional Briefing

Growing every month, this low-cost briefing kit will keep you up to date on the interface of AI and PM. If you want to stay ahead of your colleagues in this rapidly changing arena of our profession, this is an excellent investment.

Artificial Intelligence & Project Management Briefing

Our AI & PM Briefing Kit has all our ‘AI & PM’ resources – and will include all public content before it goes out on YouTube or this website. This video was available 2 months early in the briefing kit!

Get our Artificial Intelligence & Project Management Professional Briefing now.

What Kit does a Project Manager Need?

I asked Project Managers in a couple of forums what material things you need to have, to do your job as a Project Manager. They responded magnificently. I compiled their answers into a Kit list. I added my own. 

Check out the Kit a Project Manager needs

Note that the links are affiliated.

Learn Still More

For more great Project Management videos, please subscribe to the OnlinePMCourses YouTube channel.

If you want basic Management Courses – free training hosted on YouTube, with 2 new management lessons a week, check out our sister channel, Management Courses.

For more of our Project Management videos in themed collections, join our Free Academy of Project Management.

For more of our videos in themed collections, join our Free Academy of Project Management

Never miss an article or video!

Get notified of every new article or video we publish, when we publish it.

Mike Clayton

About the Author...

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Never miss an article or video!

 Get notified of every new article or video we publish, when we publish it.