By: Eric Siegel, Founder, Predictive Analytics World

In anticipation of his upcoming conference presentation, Predictive Analytics for Project Scott_LancasterManagement – Cost Avoidance, at Predictive Analytics World Boston, Sept 27-Oct 1, 2015, we asked Scott Lancaster, Vice President at State Street Corp., a few questions about his work in predictive analytics.

Q: In your work with predictive analytics, what behavior do your models predict?

A: I use the Putnam model for estimating project cost/effort, duration, size, and productivity at a certain level of quality. This model is used for project management and is based on the Rayleigh distribution curve.

Q: How does predictive analytics deliver value at your organization? What is one specific way in which it actively drives decisions?

A: Predictive analytics is used in my IT-related program and project management work to assess the risk of a project and to perform real-time predictive analytical tradeoff analysis of cost, duration, and scope. This allows our business partners to understand the risk involved with a particular project (or portfolio of projects) and make quantitative-based decisions on the so-called triple-constraint tradeoff including:

  • what should be included in the projects’ scope, given a certain timeframe
  • adjust the timeframe given a certain scope and resources
  • adjust resources given the scope and timeframe

Q: Can you describe a successful result, such as the predictive lift of your model or the ROI of an analytics initiative?

A: In the first year we avoided $1.2M of costs by understanding what the high probability of certain projects actual durations were instead of the gut-feel, effort-based estimates which were off by up to a factor of three.

Q: What surprising discovery have you unearthed in your data?

A: Quantifying your project data allows you to accurately assess project risk but you have to look at multiple factors. A lot of projects which look at quantifying duration and effort don’t quantify their scope and that leads to a lot of issues relating to what can really be delivered.

Q: Sneak preview: Please tell us a take-away that you will provide during your talk at Predictive Analytics World.

A: IT project related work is a non-linear function with cost/effort having the least amount of impact to the schedule, yet it’s the first thing projects try to do to meet a deadline. Changing the duration (which is counter-intuitive) actually has the largest impact.


Don’t miss Scott’s conference presentation, Predictive Analytics for Project Management – Cost Avoidance, on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at 4:20 to 4:40 pm at Predictive Analytics World Boston. Click here to register to attend.

By: Eric Siegel, Founder, Predictive Analytics World