Business Intelligence through the Application of Data Analytics


and Systems Engineering Principles

with focus on Project Success



By Danie du Plooy

Johannesburg, Gautang

South Africa

On a project nothing happens in isolation and all individual “parts” form the whole which is the project.  if a project is less successful, it is important to understand the dependencies and interdependencies that may have influenced the outcome of the project.  To put more context to this, one needs to look at another complimentary discipline that can be applied in understanding the dynamics of a project.  This concept is Systems Engineering (SE), and it has a key role to play in the world of project management.  Van Gemert states that the project manager and SE adopts a system approach and identify interdependencies and interconnectedness of a project, including pre-planned improvements [1].  Systems engineering (SE) is defined as an interdisciplinary approach and focuses on project success.  SE unpacks the user requirements specifications (URS) early in the project life cycle.  The SE takes both business and technical needs into consideration to meet customer expectations [2].

It is stated that that SE and project management are closely linked.  It is argued that SE management applies common project management principles and indicated aspects such as a work breakdown structure as well as a SE management plan.  It is argued that a SE should apply science and technology, technical planning, management and leadership skills and abilities [3].

The second component is data analytics.  Data analytics is the process of analyzing data sets to form a conclusion of the information it contains.  Data analytics refers to various applications, from business intelligence, on-line reporting as well as different forms of advance analytics [4].  It is stated that both data analytics and data analysis are applied to uncover patterns, trends, and any other anomalies within data.  By doing this, it provides the intelligence business needs to make informed decisions.  It is stated that data analysis looks at the past whilst data analytics tends to predict the future [5].

The question can now be asked, what is the difference between data analysis and data analytics?  Is there a correlation between the two terminologies and what is the relationship?  Analytics per se is defined as a process that is applied to transform data into actions through analysis and insight in the context of an organisational decision-making process and problem-solving methodologies [6].  Four different types of analytics are identified, and the question is asked whether there are any relationships amongst these types of analytics.  These types of analytics use data to answer different questions and provide answers to those specific analytics [7].

Each of the analytics has a specific role to play in the successful outcome of a project.

  • Descriptive analytics: refers to the analysis of the real situation without linking it to any data points.
  • Diagnostic analytics: in this step trends, dependencies and interdependencies are recognised in the data.
  • Predictive analytics: during this step the identified trends are projected into the future.
  • Prescriptive analytics: during this step recommendations are made that are based on the trends to achieve the expected successful outcomes.

The best analogy to demonstrate this is a soccer ball.  A soccer ball consists of perfectly designed and manufactured pentagons that are put together to form a perfect round soccer ball.  If any of the pentagons are not manufactured to the specified requirements, it is no longer a soccer ball, and the trajectory of the ball is unpredictable.  In project management it is the same principle as there are dependencies and interdependencies that need to be successfully concluded to have a 95% level of confidence that the project will be a success.


To read entire article, click here

Editor’s note: This article is based on a presentation by the author during the Project Management South Africa (PMSA) 2021 National Project Management Conference held virtually in November 2021m for which the PMWJ was a media partner.  To learn more about PMSA and their events, visit https://www.projectmanagement.org.za/. For more on the subject of this article, see the author profile at the end of this article and contact the author directly.

How to cite this article: dr Plooy, D. (2022). Business Intelligence through the Application of Data Analytics and Systems Engineering Principles with focus on Project Success, PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue II, February.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/pmwj114-Feb2022-du-Plooy-business-intelligence-through-data-analytics-and-systems-engineering.pdf

About the Author

Danie du Plooy

Johannesburg, Gauteng
South Africa


Danie du Plooy is a senior consultant with Eskom in South Africa and currently Head of the National Project Management Office. He is responsible for the assessment of projects during the front-end planning phases (CRA-ERA) as well as assessing projects during the execution phase.  These assessments are conducted by using evaluation tools from the Construction Industry Institute. He has a wealth of experience and expertise in a number of areas including project management, project assessment practices and data analytics, to name but a few.

Danie’s career achievements are far reaching and within Eskom alone he has been key to the development of a KM concept, the Project Definition Rating Assessment, the PKHI assessment model as well the introduction of project excellence within the project management fraternity. His professional contributions include the design and development of project management courses, the delivery of papers at local and international conferences including the WANO Conference in Wales, and his registration with professional associations PMSA and SAIChE.

Danie holds a Masters’ degree in Technology (cum laude), a MSc Eng Business Management from the University of Warwick and is currently completing his PhD in Project Management. He can be contacted at Danie.duplooy4@gmail.com