Clients who get the most value from their analytics investments are the ones who commit to long-term, transformational change. At Keyrus, we lead these strategic changes in partnership with our clients.
A Port Authority in the Eastern US sought to become a data-driven organization. They found that nearly all of their departments could improve productivity and have more informed decision-making. This Port Authority operates three airports and public terminals in and around a major city, so improvements to their operations affect thousands of employees and customers per day.
The Authority knew they would need an analytics platform to achieve the traditional BI goals of consolidating, transforming, and visualizing data for decision-makers. The Authority also knew they would need a partner to help plan and implement the platform. Following an RFP, the Authority selected Keyrus as their strategic analytics partner.
We built a comprehensive analytics roadmap to get the Authority from their starting point to where they could best use their data to make strategic decisions. With the roadmap, Keyrus set up the Authority to meet their long-term data strategic objectives and begin implementing the projects that would help achieve these goals.
Keyrus conducted business interviews, defined initiatives, and performed a detailed information analysis with the Authority. We determined that the Authority’s main challenges were data latency, reliance on time-intensive manual tasks, data availability, data quality, and requirements to update information in multiple systems. We used this information to create a plot of dozens of initiatives ranked by feasibility and ROI. By creating this priority plot, we mapped the Authority’s implementation plans for those initiatives over the next two years. We also recommended an “ROI assurance” strategy to address the organization’s gaps in data governance and master data management. We illustrate our overall process use to build our roadmaps below:
Keyrus identified that a modern data platform would be required to support all of the projects identified on the Authority’s roadmap. This platform would be implemented simultaneously with the first identified roadmap initiative.
After reviewing and confirming our recommendations and roadmap with the Authority project team, Keyrus worked with C-level management for the final sign-off before beginning implementation.
The Port Authority chose its Capital Programs department as its first priority to implement its new data solution. Capital Programs implement the Authority’s infrastructure capital investments such as $2.6 billion of major projects across five airports and terminals in the region. Capital programs provide many crucial services to the Authority including contract management, utilities management, employee health and safety support, and facility oversight. Capital Programs enable the Authority’s mission of delivering safe, secure, and responsible, state-of-the-art transportation facilities for the benefit of the region they serve.
The Capital Programs legacy strategy for analyzing data was highly manual and disjointed. For example, Port Authority program managers would ask project managers to download data to Excel multiple times from multiple different sources to match budgeted timelines and costs to actuals.
Next, project managers had to meticulously log back into those multiple source systems to find clues that explained project delays and problems. Capital Program managers didn’t have a detailed overview of all projects and were only able to analyze performance on a quarterly basis. This limited overview was a problem considering that hundreds of millions of dollars of spend were underway on hundreds of in-flight projects.
Keyrus sought out to build a new platform that would provide real-time data on each project’s performance versus plan. This platform would drill down into projects that are over-budget or behind-timeline and be able to discover why.
Keyrus and the Port Authority identified four guiding principles for designing the data platform. It was required to be:
Cloud-based to avoid on-premise hosting requirements and maintenance
Regulated to meet governance standards
Flexible to meet analytics use cases across all departments and
Intuitive with a self-service front-end for end-users
Based on past experience with similar project requirements, we recommended a cloud platform on AWS which included Talend, Snowflake, and Tableau to consolidate, transform, warehouse, and visualize the Port Authority’s data. Keyrus always builds a tailored platform that best meets our clients’ short and long-term goals. For the Authority, we built a cloud platform on AWS which included best-in-breed tools for each component of the solution. The Authority’s platform primarily consisted of:
Talend for data collection and transformation of data from source systems (ETL/ELT)
Snowflake as an elastic cloud data warehouse
Tableau for self-service dashboarding and analytics
Below we’ve visualized their full technical architecture:
The Port Authority’s new analytics platform collects, harmonizes, visualizes data in one place – and is updated hourly with the freshest information. Using this new platform, we built two smart visualizations to solve Capital Programs’ analytics requirements:
The first dashboard is a complete overview of active, completed, and future projects. It includes smart KPIs that dynamically adjust by criteria. The dashboard promotes a workflow to guide users through all of these projects, highlighting the ones that need attention.
Capital program stakeholders can sort or filter their project portfolio on any metric of choice, such as committed/work order budget, invoiced amount, remaining balance, change approvals across location, program, project manager, project type, project, and time.
When a user identifies a single project to explore in more detail, they can navigate directly to it and see details in the next dashboard.
The second dashboard provides more detailed information and analysis capabilities for a single project. On an hourly basis, project managers can measure the performance of their project’s schedule and budget. If a project is behind, the dashboard gives context to whether delays in construction are due to pending contracts, problematic documentation, or even bad weather (via Dark Sky API).
With scheduled activities, aggregated views for payments and estimates, technical documentation, weather information, and concise views of financial records all in one place, project managers get the holistic view of their projects without digging through multiple source systems to gather the same information.
Once at the project management dashboard, users can more thoroughly examine the selected project, diving into its activity schedule and see how many payments are being made at a given time period. If a certain activity has been delayed, clicking on it will bring up the weather analysis tab, showing weather patterns as well as technical document submittals for the specified time period to see what may have caused the delay.
Getting an overall picture of all the technical documents is easy when navigating to the document details tab, where all submitted documents, their status, when they were submitted, who submitted them, and how long it takes on average to close opened documents can be seen. For financial records, three tabs for budgeting, actual payments, and forecasts exist, allowing managers to easily see where exactly the KPIs come from—without losing descriptive information for each record.
With the dynamic and comprehensive layout of both dashboards, stakeholders no longer need to dig through different platforms to spot trends and outliers or need to wait until the end of the month to view aggregate figures for financial reports—data is available instantly and may be tailored specifically by each user.
Successful ROI would only be possible if the Capital Programs team adopted and regularly used the new dashboards. To make sure we set up Capital Programs users for success, we had to better understand their roles, responsibilities, analytics capabilities, and culture. With these points in mind, Keyrus created an adoption-focused change management plan specific to Capital Program end users.
We met with relevant Capital Programs stakeholders to identify the major business drivers for using reports and data. Throughout this process, we started learning how they currently access reports, if they have the ability to manipulate reports/data, and how they might digest more advanced data in the future. Based on this input, the Keyrus team designed the Tableau reports with an intuitive flow that captures the most relevant KPIs, only brings in the business required level of data granularity, and ensures that data in the reports address pressing business needs.
The Keyrus team then developed a customized roll-out strategy for change management. Our rollout strategy consisted of a communication plan, training sessions, identifying champions to aid adoption, and providing recommendations for long-term reinforcement. We provided Capital Programs management with clear messaging points to generate excitement within the team. We included a pilot audience amongst the business users to start building awareness around the shift in reporting systems and how it fits in the overall team mission.
To build the analytics capabilities, the Keyrus team started training sessions on Tableau functionality within the context of Capital Programs’ business needs. We recorded video walkthroughs for reference and created guides that explain the data sets. These guides show users how they can address a business question in the dashboard by filtering, drilling down, and using Tableau’s other functional capabilities. We included built-in help icons in Capital Programs’ dashboards to provide more business context around the data for end-users’ immediate reference. Finally, we followed up with key end-users and identified champions among the early adopters who could inspire their other teammates to get on board, saving Capital Programs time and the organization money.
The data roadmap we built with the Authority aligned management of their initiatives and set expectations for budgets and timelines of expected ROI for each department. Not only does the roadmap set up the Authority for success, it is also a plan they can commit to long-term in transforming their analytics investments.
For the first priority on the roadmap implementation, Keyrus built a modern data platform that enables and accelerates all future analytics projects for all departments of the Port Authority. The Port Authority now has an efficient and replicable way to integrate data from multiple systems, then presenting it clearly and visually to end-users for interactive analysis.
As the Authority's first in-scope department to leverage the modern data platform, Capital Programs is expected to save hundreds of hours for the project control teams who manually created, tested, and revised these reports every few weeks. The new platform ensures that decisions are made based on data that is both timelier and more accurate than ever before.
Capital Program project managers now have dashboards that not only highlight project risks but can drill into what proactively causes these risks. Project managers can now understand change requests made by contractors and challenge these changes more efficiently. That results in millions of dollars of potential savings for the Authority. With greater project insights, the Authority can plan and execute their strategic transportation infrastructure projects on budget and on time. Properly executing these transportation construction projects helps the Port Authority to meet the demands of a growing economy, support an increasing customer base, enhance the passenger experience, and ensure public safety.
Despite being currently paused due to the pandemic, the Port Authority’s strategic initiatives are set up to leverage the new data platform for a fast rollout of analytics solutions for more departments this year.