“There can hardly be a firm that has not invested, always significantly and often hugely, in IT systems, the goal of which is to provide a better understanding of the market and control the company… Despite this spend, many firms feel that they are not achieving the outcomes they sought.”
– Smith & Raspin, Creating Market Insight (London: Wiley, 2008)
I like to ask anyone that has already implemented a PPM tool what their answer is to this; The extent to which the transformation satisfies the need for which it was undertaken
There are a variety of responses but they are often saying similar things – not quite hitting the spot.
In many cases they’ve gone back to using spreadsheets alongside their PPM tool to plug the gaps.
Part of this is because when PPM tools first emerged 10 years ago they were designed for enterprise level deployments similar to CRM and ERP. It was more about leveraging technology to combine data from disparate sources into one place. About getting organised, structured data IN to provide information – and not necessarily about what would be most useful coming OUT.
There are many clients I speak to who have had a PPM tool in place for 18 months or so, who are not getting the benefits they expected. They frequently mention the vendors “not being interested” beyond the implementation phase, of feeling like they have an “expensive time sheeting system”; they’re talking about supplementing it with another tools or even dumping it all together because they are disappointed it hasn’t solved resource management or isn’t escalating the right risks. Their expectations haven’t been met.
Gartner have also managed to articulate this with their Hype Cycle methodology – a lot of organisations who are 18 months into their PPM tool journey find themselves in the Trough of Disillusionment.
The reports and dashboards that PPM tools typically enable the information we have captured to be presented pictorially; they enable monitoring of data quality, information structures, usage metrics, who made the last updates and when.
They provide a view of what HAS happened. The outputs of a PPM tool can inform further analysis, but will not be transformed into insight by the PPM tool alone. That’s up to the PMO – and that’s the value add.
As PMOs, at best we are getting to information about what HAS happened. What we need to be doing is using lessons learned from previous projects and the information available on current projects to highlight;
- what is likely to happen if things continue as they are
- what to change to affect a different outcome – which is where the real power lies
We need to be using all that data, information and knowledge to provide the map that gets our stakeholders to ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS.
I’m not convinced we are doing this in PMOs today.