Do you know the difference between Data and Information?
Data and Information are common terms in the realm of Data Science. These terms have specific meanings. The difference between these two terms can be easily understood by looking at the above two images.
In very simple language, we can say that Computing Devices need Data whereas Humans need Information. But let us define these terms more logically in a simple language.
English Language Meaning of Data And Information
Data is raw, unorganized facts that need to be processed. Data can be something simple and seemingly random and useless until it is organized.
When data is processed, organized, structured or presented in a given context so as to make it useful, it is called information.
Project Management Definitions of Work Performance Data and Work Performance Information
Data and Information used to be simple terms till PMI introduced them in the PMBOK® Guide. Leaving the humor aside, let’s look at the history of these terms.
- Work Performance Data – This term was not part of PMBOK® Guide 4th edition and was introduced in the 5th edition.
- Work Performance Information – This term was part of PMBOK® Guide 4th edition but its meaning was changed in the 5th edition.
The concepts regarding Work Performance Data and Work Performance Information were present in PMBOK® Guide 4th edition. However, PMI was not using standardized meaning & usage of Data and Information. This was changed with PMBOK® Guide 5th edition and has continued forward. The following diagram explains the difference between Work Performance Data and Work Performance Information further.
Work Performance Data
The raw observations and measurements identified during activities performed to carry out the project work. Examples include reported percent of work physically completed, quality and technical performance measures, start and finish dates of scheduled activities, number of change requests, number of defects, actual costs, actual duration etc.
In simple terms Work Performance Data can be considered as Project Status on a particular date (Control Date).
Work Performance Data is an output of PMBOK® Guide Process 4.3 – Direct and Manage Project Work. It is an input to all Monitoring & Controlling (M&C) Processes except Integration Process 4.4 & 4.5 – Monitor and Control Project Work & Perform Integrated Change Control.
Let me give you few more examples of Work Performance Data. Each of the following examples are written with reference to different Knowledge Areas. In PMBOK® Guide all Knowledge Areas (with the exception of Human Resource Management) have at least one M&C process. All these M&C processes take Work Performance Data as an input:
Scope – ‘D’ Deliverables have been completed
Time – ‘n’ Activities are started & ongoing, ‘m’ Activities have been completed
Cost – ‘M’ units of money have been spent
Quality – ‘X’ Requirements have been completed, ‘Y’ Change Requests have been completed
Communication – ‘C’ communication items have been sent
Risks – Scheduled Milestone ‘S’ is behind, ‘R’ units of money have been used as Contingency Reserves
Procurement – ‘I’ invoices have been processed and paid, ‘D’ Deliverables have been received from Contractor
Stakeholder – ‘P’ percentage of work has been completed
Work Performance Information
The performance data collected from various controlling processes, analyzed in context and integrated based on relationships across areas. Examples of performance information are status of deliverables, implementation status of change requests, and forecasted estimates to complete.
In simple terms Work Performance Information can be considered as processed Work Performance Data.
Work Performance Information is an output of all Monitoring & Controlling (M&C) Processes except Integration Process 4.4 & 4.5 – Monitor and Control Project Work & Perform Integrated Change Control. Work Performance Information is an input to PMBOK® Guide Process 4.4 – Monitor and Control Project Work.
Let me give you few more examples of Work Performance Information. Each of the following examples are written with reference to different Knowledge Areas. In PMBOK® Guide all Knowledge Areas (with the exception of Human Resource Management) have at least one M&C process. All these M&C processes produce Work Performance Information as an output:
Scope – ‘D’ Deliverables have been accepted, R Deliverables have been rejected
Time – A Schedule Milestone is behind by ‘n’ days.
Cost – A Control Account is over-budget by ‘M’ units of money
Quality – ‘R’ requirements have been Inspected
Communication – ‘C’ communication items have been fulfilled
Risks – R’ Risks have occurred
Procurement – ‘C’ new Claims have been made by the Contractor
Stakeholder – ‘D’ Deliverables have been accepted
PMBOK® Guide is a standard for Project Management. PMI has used universally accepted standard meanings of terms ‘Data’ and ‘Information’. This is a move towards right direction. However, I feel, there are many inconsistencies with the way these terms have been used in the PMBOK® Guide.
- Work Performance Data is raw, unorganized and observed facts. It does not provide any intelligence.
- Work Performance Information is processed, organized and structured. It helps in decision making.
Over To You
Do you think PMBOK® Guide terminology is confusing? Please leave a comment.