What is Historical Data, where is it used and what are the challenges?
Using information from the past
In the context of companies, historical data refers to information that was created and documented in earlier projects and developments. This includes all documents such as
- project manuals, requirement specifications and reports, but also
- project plans, flow charts,
- requirements, test cases, risks, change requests,
- costs, budgets or even
- architectural models, class diagrams, use cases and source code.
The use of historical data
Companies often use historical data as
- Blueprint for upcoming projects.
- Basis for workflows and modeling of business process models.
- Source for data analysis, e.g. for the collection of requirements, for the identification of stakeholders or for the identification of risks.
- Source for creating checklists and templates.
- Copy template.
Historical data can be used in many areas and for many tasks. If an organization works with a version management system, access to the corresponding information is usually relatively easy. Without version management, the search for historical data can sometimes be tedious, so it should be carefully considered whether such an effort is worthwhile. When creating a business case template, it probably makes sense to look at two or three older business cases. However, it can be difficult and risky to draw conclusions about the present and future from the past in order to estimate the workload of work packages. The presumed expenditure for the procurement and evaluation of the historical data is unlikely to be worthwhile in relation to the expected added value.
Enterprises should be generally careful with the use of reference data, since projects are unique by definition and individual information can be used rarely 1:1. If, however, findings can be generalised and applied repeatedly, the use of historical data can offer advantages.