Traffic is a real-time dynamic system that is constantly changing. Every tiny change in traffic has repercussions down the line. The field of RTM or road traffic management has come about to manage such systems and prevent traffic jams and random congestion. These systems use data analytics to predict and manage traffic.

Managing traffic has many parallels with managing a project. There are drivers on the road constantly making decisions about how they drive and the way they follow the traffic rules. The idea is to govern a naturally organic and dynamic system through surveillance, data collection and ensure the right rules/protocols at the right junctures.

For example, by ensuring proper speed limits at roads in vanity to schools and hospitals and by collecting live data from the location, traffic management teams can govern traffic speed and density for far off roads that lead to such locations. Project managers need to have similar visibility into the status of ongoing projects and be wary of upcoming jams in the project and think of ways to prevent them.

Insights taken from Road traffic Management

  • Small and incremental changes matter– Just like in traffic scenarios small diversions and changes have rippling effects, in project management small defects and faults in the early stages can have rippling consequences towards the later stages. For example, during the installation of a new equipment if the factory floor size is not properly planned and dug, then after the installation, any kind of fouling with existing structures such as pillars or defects in the foundation can cause severe problems.
  • Make decisions based on data – Modern traffic management systems utilize data patterns and analyze traffic routines in order to route traffic efficiently and predict jams and blockages. Project managers similarly should employ data analysis tools and take statistical methods into consideration in order to gain visibility into the status of the project.
  • Have centralized systems and control – Most traffic systems are controlled in a centralized fashion with effective single points of contact or SPOC for any kind of event. For example, highways, urban traffic streets and freeways have different kinds of toll booths and specific speed regulating solutions, all of which monitor traffic and send information to control centers. Project managers similarly should have a layered approach with clear SPOCs assigned to team leaders. There should be core committee of central planners who monitor the project and assess its progress.
  • Incorporate latest technologies – Traffic management has moved from being governed by traffic police to automated systems. Project managers should also actively make such transitions. By migrating most of the routine and repetitive tasks to automated software platforms, projects can be executed at lower costs and with higher efficiency. Added to this, the number of errors are significantly decreased as humans are replaced by machines.

Traffic in road systems is almost like a breathing entity that changes with time and has routine patters. Project managers must develop the habit of identifying such patterns through experience and analysis and develop better strategies.