December 14, 2023

What Is a Single Source of Truth (SSOT)?

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Key takeaways

  • By having a central repository for data, information remains consistent across the organization.
  • With data readily available in one location, employees spend less time searching for information across multiple systems.
  • Employees spend an estimated two hours per day, or nearly 9.5 hours per week, searching for project data. A Single Source of Truth helps get that number more under control.

What does the Single Source of Truth mean? What does SSoT mean to you and your project management role within your enterprise? Single Source of Truth (SSoT) refers to an authoritative, trusted, centralized, comprehensive, and easily accessible data repository that consolidates all components or aspects related directly to project management.

Consolidating and displaying all this data in one place facilitates timely, informed, and effective decision-making and data analysis, an essential goal or objective of optimized Project Portfolio Management (PPM) and Project Managers (PMs).

What are some benefits of a Single Point of Truth?

Incorporating a Single Source of Truth into your business’ project management plan is one of the single most beneficial additions one can make. 

Here are some of the benefits you gain by having an SSoT can bring to your business:

  1. Consistency and Accuracy: By having a central repository for data, information remains consistent across the organization. This reduces the chances of discrepancies caused by conflicting, duplicate, or outdated data in different systems or departments. When the entire team is on the same page and sharing the same data in real-time, this aids in the elimination of errors and miscommunication.
  1. Improved Decision-Making: Access to a reliable SSoT ensures that decision-makers can access the most current and accurate information. This facilitates informed decision-making, especially in project management, resource allocation, strategic planning, and risk management.
  1. Improved Decision-Making: Access to a reliable SSoT ensures that decision-makers can access the most current and accurate information. This facilitates informed decision-making, especially in project management, resource allocation, strategic planning, and risk management.
  1. Increased Efficiency and Productivity: With data readily available in one location, employees spend less time searching for information across multiple systems. This saves time and boosts overall productivity.
  1. Streamlined Processes: A unified source of information streamlines various processes. For instance, project updates, reporting, and tracking become more efficient when everyone uses the same data set. This leads to gains in executing tasks and deliverables.
  1. Risk Mitigation: An SSoT helps identify potential risks more effectively. With accurate and comprehensive data, organizations can anticipate and address issues before they escalate, thereby reducing risks associated with decision-making.
  1. Support for Compliance and Governance: Centralizing data following regulatory standards becomes more manageable with an SSoT. It ensures that the organization adheres to compliance requirements and governance protocols.
  1. Scalability and Flexibility: As organizations grow or evolve, having a centralized source of truth allows for more effortless scalability and adaptability. New processes, systems, or departments can seamlessly integrate into the SSoT framework.
  1. Customer and Stakeholder Confidence: When stakeholders, clients, or customers can access consistent, reliable data, it fosters trust and confidence in the organization’s capabilities.
  1. Cost Savings: While there might be an initial investment in establishing an SSoT, in the long run, it can save costs associated with data discrepancies, inefficiencies, and errors resulting from using multiple disparate data sources.
  1. Accountability. By accurately aggregating, distilling, and displaying project status and data, it’s much easier for the PM and other team leaders to ensure both team and individual responsibility and accountability.
  1. Objective Alignment. A robust Single Point of Truth aids in identifying, defining, and ensuring team understanding and buy-in of the end objectives and their proper and precise alignment.

What elements or deliverables belong in an effective & holistic SSoT solution?

Building an SSoT is no small task. There are a number of elements that can be tracked and monitored in one place. Different businesses take different approaches, but we’ve put together a number of items that can be very beneficial to include in a Single Source of Truth.

Project Data

Information about ongoing and past projects, including timelines, milestones, tasks, progress reports, resource allocation, budgets, risks, and dependencies. These are some of the most crucial or essential elements of a superior SSOT for the project manager and other team members.

Resource Management

Details about available resources (human, financial, and material) across the organization, their skills, availability, utilization, and allocation to different projects or tasks.

Financial Information

Budgets, expenses, forecasts, cost estimates, and financial metrics associated with projects and portfolios.

Performance Metrics

Key performance indicators (KPIs), performance reports, and metrics relevant to project success, efficiency, and strategic objectives.

Risk Management

Identification, assessment, and mitigation strategies for potential risks associated with projects and portfolios.

Documentation and Artifacts

Centralized storage of project documentation, deliverables, contracts, agreements, and other relevant artifacts.

Stakeholder Information

Contact details and roles of stakeholders, clients, team members, or any other relevant parties involved in the projects or decision-making processes.

Compliance and Governance Data

Information related to regulatory compliance, industry standards, and organizational governance requirements.

Communication Records

Logs or summaries of communications, meeting notes, and decisions made during discussions or project meetings.

Change Management Records

Document changes made to projects, processes, or any organizational elements, along with the rationale behind those changes.

Historical Data and Archives

Archiving past project data, lessons learned, historical performance, and any relevant information that can inform future decisions.

What happens when you work without an SSoT source?

What happens when you have no SSoT? If you’re a project manager lacking a reliable, trusted, and efficient Single Source of Truth system, it may lead to multiple issues and negative impacts. The most common issues are work slowdowns, poor cross-functional collaboration, poor or limited data accessibility, and more. 

These limitations can lead to PM, team, and enterprise project failure. The stakes are high, and the chances of failure are much more remarkable without a nimble, comprehensive Single Source of Truth system. 

Some sobering statistics regarding a lack of SSoT

A recent industry study shows inaccurate data gathering, along with the lack of a proven data collection tool or methodology (a crucial SSoT feature and deliverable) accounted for 37% of project failures.

Employees spend an estimated two hours per day, or nearly 9.5 hours per week, searching for project data.

How does your enterprise build a winning SSoT?

Building a Single Source of Truth (SSoT) within an organization can be a complex endeavor and comes with several challenges:

  1. Data Quality and Consistency: Ensuring that the data within the SSoT is accurate, consistent, and up-to-date across various systems, departments, and sources can be challenging. More accurate or consistent data can be needed to maintain the credibility of the SSoT and affect decision-making.
  1. Integration of Disparate Systems: Many organizations use multiple software systems and tools for different functions. Integrating these disparate systems to feed data into a centralized SSoT can be technically challenging and require significant data mapping, transformation, and synchronization effort.
  1. Data Governance and Ownership: Determining who is responsible for maintaining and updating data in the SSoT can be challenging. Clear data governance policies and ownership frameworks must be established to ensure accountability and data accuracy.
  1. Resistance to Change: Employees might refrain from adopting new systems or changing their data entry and management practices. Overcoming this resistance and encouraging a culture that values data accuracy and completeness is crucial.
  1. Scalability and Flexibility: As the organization grows or evolves, the SSoT should be able to scale and adapt to accommodate new data sources, additional functionalities, or changes in business processes without compromising its integrity.
  1. Technical Challenges: Implementing a robust SSoT might involve complex technical solutions, data architecture, interoperability issues, and data security concerns. Ensuring the system’s security and reliability is essential.
  1. Cost and Resource Constraints: Building and maintaining an SSoT can be resource-intensive, requiring investments in technology, skilled personnel, training, and ongoing maintenance. Budget constraints might hinder the implementation process.
  1. Cultural and Organizational Challenges: Encouraging a culture where employees understand the importance of data accuracy, collaboration, and transparency is vital. Resistance or lack of understanding from various departments or stakeholders can hinder SSoT adoption. If the entire team doesn’t adapt and learn how to use the SSoT solution, success will be elusive.
  1. Legacy Systems and Data Migration: Migrating data from legacy systems to a new SSoT can be complex and time-consuming, involving data cleansing, transformation, and ensuring compatibility between systems.
  1. User Adoption and Training: Educating and training employees on effectively using the SSoT is crucial for its success. Lack of adequate training or user-friendly interfaces can hinder adoption.

Addressing these challenges requires careful planning, effective change management, strong leadership support, and a phased approach to implementation. Overcoming these obstacles can pave the way for a robust SSoT, a reliable foundation for project management, decision-making, and organizational success.

Finding the right SSoT solution for your business

Incorporating a Single Source of Truth into your organization is a critical decision. If you’re looking for the right project management software solution, check out our project management software guide to find the right tool for your business.

Featured Partners: Project Management

1 monday.com

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monday.com Work OS is the project management software that helps you and your team plan, execute, and track projects and workflows in one collaborative space. Manage everything from simple to complex projects more efficiently with the help of visual boards, 200+ ready-made templates, clever no-code automations, and easy integrations. In addition, custom dashboards simplify reporting, so you can evaluate your progress and make data-driven decisions.

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2 Quickbase

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Big ideas aren’t simple to execute. So we’re here to help you tackle any project, no matter how complex. We’re Quickbase.

Quickbase helps customers see, connect and control complex projects that reshape our world. Whether it’s raising a skyscraper or coordinating vaccine rollouts, the no-code software platform allows business users to custom fit solutions to the way they work – using information from across the systems they already have.

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3 Wrike

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Wrike’s top-notch workflow management software allows you to easily visualize priorities, boost collaboration, and maintain control of your projects. Bonus: you can move seamlessly between apps, without logging in or out. Wrike has more than 400+ integrations with popular platforms such as Google, Dropbox, Microsoft Office, and many more. Automation and AI features strip away time-consuming admin tasks so you can do the best work of your life.

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