Global Business Intelligence for Managers of Programs, Projects and Project-oriented Organizations


By: David L. Pells

Addison, Texas, USA


A decade ago, I explored the subject of the impact of global trends and events on the project management profession with papers presented at PMI’s annual conferences in Long Beach (1998) [1] and Philadelphia (1999) [2], and at the PMI South Africa conference in Johannesburg, South Africa (1999) [3].  During the development of those themes, I outlined a model for systematically evaluating major developments and trends in such subject areas as wars and international relations; national and global politics; global, regional and local economies; industries, including mergers and acquisitions; technology; social changes; and natural disasters and refugee crises.

Over the last ten years, the field of business intelligence (BI) has matured, but has not yet been widely applied in the program and project management field.  There is little literature on the topic.  With continued globalization of economies, politics and society, and in the context of the global economic situation today, it is now time to reconsider the subject.  At the same time, the pace of change seems to be accelerating in so many aspects of business and society.  Futurists and those offering scenario planning to corporate and government leaders are gaining popularity.  Such books as Future Shock and The Third Wave by Alvin Toffler, Mega Trends by John Naisbitt, and other similar books predicting future trends for business are no longer adequate, in my opinion, although they get us thinking in the right ways.  We need a new perspective, a new way for thinking about change and the future in order to be better prepared.  We also need better decision making models.  This is especially true for project-oriented organizations, but also for managers of large programs and projects with multiple stakeholders located in different places.

This paper contains some of my thoughts on these topics, and why they should be taken more seriously by executives, program and project managers, and organizations. This covers such related topics as business intelligence, environmental scanning, trend analysis, stakeholder relations and risk management.  These can all be directly related to program and project management.  But this is a more advanced topic than basic project planning and scheduling; it is therefore addressed to senior executives and experienced program and project managers.

Business Intelligence – the Context & Current Limitations

According to Wikipedia, Business intelligence (BI) refers to skills, technologies, applications and practices used to help a business acquire a better understanding of its commercial context. Business intelligence may also refer to the collected information itself.  BI technologies provide historical, current, and predictive views of business operations. Common functions of business intelligence technologies are reporting, OLAP, analytics, data mining, business performance management, benchmarks, text mining, and predictive analytics.  Business intelligence often aims to support better business decision-making. Thus a BI system can be called a decision support system (DSS). [4]


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Editor’s note:  Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English. This paper was originally published in the PM World Today eJournal in June 2009; it is republished here with the author’s permission.

About the Author

flag-usadavid-pellsDavid L. Pells

Dallas, Texas, USA

David L. Pells is Managing Editor of the PM World Journal, a global eJournal for program and project management, and Executive Director of the PM World Library. He is also the president and CEO of PM World, the virtual organization behind the journal and library.  David is an internationally recognized leader in the field of professional project management with more than 35 years of experience on a variety of programs and projects, including engineering, construction, defense, energy, transit, high technology, and nuclear security, and project sizes ranging from thousands to ten billion dollars. He has been an active professional leader in the United States since the 1980s, serving on the board of directors of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) twice.  David was awarded PMI’s Person of the Year award in 1998 and Fellow Award in 1999. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Association for Project Management (APM) in the UK; Project Management Associates (PMA – India); and Russian Project Management Association.  From June 2006 until March 2012, he was the managing editor of the globally acclaimed PM World Today eJournal.  David has published widely, has spoken at conferences and events worldwide, and can be contacted at [email protected].