So you think you need a PPM tool?

Picture this scenario:

Your company has been running various projects and programmes for a while now, with varying degrees of success regarding delivery. Those that do go well often don’t embed as well as you’d hoped, and those that don’t – if only you could have had better visibility of when things started to go off track, or earlier warning of when those key risks started turning into issues, or been able bring an innovation to market quicker, your world would be a much better place. If only you had a PPM tool!

Maybe resource is the issue? Just at the point you need someone, no one is available because your schedule has slipped and now the resource you thought you had secured needs to roll onto something else that is still running to its original timeline. You might even need to go to market to secure a specialist resource and that’s going to take weeks to turn around!

Perhaps its even bigger than that; you’re not sure that your organisation is even working on the right initiatives to meet those strategic objectives that everyone has signed up to achieve.

You’ve tried to pinpoint the reasons behind all this and have discovered that any data relating to projects lives across a variety of spreadsheets, document repositories or even paper-based files; the contractors and consultants you’ve previously used kept everything on their laptops and any lessons learned walked out the door with them when the assignment ended.

You’ve been aware for a while now of the discussions across the marketplace about project portfolio management (PPM) tools; the array of different products available, those within your professional network taking the plunge and singing the praises of one product or another, and you think its now time for your company to get involved…

So what do you do next?

You might ask a few of those in your network for their opinions on what’s the “best” tool; you might start searching the internet for companies you’ve heard of to see how their price points compare; you might even discover the Gartner Magic Quadrant, and invite those companies who rank the highest to present their cases – a Beauty Parade if you will.

STOP RIGHT THERE!

Some of the best examples of PPM tool implementation failure begin right where you are now.

This approach is the equivalent of deciding on a solution before you’ve fully understood what the problem is that you’re trying to solve, who your customer is, or even what the appetite is for the solution you’ve identified.

This project needs to be approached in exactly the same way as you would approach any other project that your organisation is tasked to deliver for any one of your internal or external customers. It needs to have a robust business case, executive level backing, a clear idea of who the users are, a thorough set of requirements which represent the needs of those users, resource, funding…. You get the idea.

But it only affects the project team! I hear you cry; we do this stuff every day, its part of keeping the show on the road, our business as usual – why would I tie up precious resource with this when they could be working on projects that will earn us money, or have higher visibility at Board level?

No.

Embarking on the implementation of a PPM tool is a perfect example of business change, a transformation that will impact people and process as well as technology. You will need to ensure that business as usual is not disrupted during this transformation, and that requires a managed approach just like the one you would recommend to Finance, HR, Sales & Marketing or any other operational function within your company.

This post is the first of many that will help you on your journey towards a successful solution for your current and future pain; that solution may involve the full implementation of a PPM tool. It may also identify that a phased approach is best for your organisation, or even highlight that its not quite ready to follow that path just yet.

Because it’s all about what will work best for YOUR organisation – not your professional network, your competitors or even your previous place of work.