PPM for the Enterprise Part 1 – Common PPM Deployment Challenges

There are many factors to consider when assessing your PPM (Enterprise Project Portfolio Management) needs across your organization.  It occurs more often than not that financial constraints or time to market requirements outweigh the critical need to truly understand and evaluate the original need for this organizational change.   Of course that’s not to say that those seeking PPM disciplines and applications don’t have objectives in mind; but, whose objectives are they and how can you meet those objectives by enforcing a tool or discipline that only benefits those at the top?  Well, in my mind the answer is simple…you can’t.  The most common mistake made in PPM deployments is the inability to define all stakeholders, their challenges, their tools and processes, and most importantly their current state of organizational project management maturity.  An effective strategy for PPM implementation addresses all of the following areas: 

–       Who will be using the system?

–       What are their current PPM challenges?

–       What tools and processes are they using today?

Very similar to branding, which I’ll touch on a bit later, knowing and understanding your target audience will undoubtedly result in higher user adaption, leading to overall acceptance and maximized ROI. 

In this 5 part blog series, I will be covering the following topics: 

  1. Common PPM Deployment Challenges
  2. PPM Maturity – Users and Capabilities
  3. PPM Deployment Tips
  4. PPM Branding
  5. PPM Tools that Address Today’s

Before we get into the various areas where maturity can be measured, let’s first discuss three common challenges that can potentially cause a negative impact on PPM deployments. 

#1 – One solution rarely fits the needs of all users

An enterprise system typically isn’t tailored to meet all team’s/user’s needs.  An enterprise system is just that, a tool to be shared and used by the entire organization.  The problem is that most teams in an organization work differently.  They have different processes, they follow different leaders, and they have different areas of focus which results in different work.  A PPM system must allow you to define your enterprise needs and then customize the tool to meet the needs of individual teams or departments.  If each user understands that the tool will meet their needs and resolve their pain points, everyone wins.  Executives get to see what they need across the enterprise and individual teams can work the way they work to make the tool effective.  Usability equals success in an enterprise system, the data outputs are only as good as the information going into the tool. 

# 2 – A PPM system rarely accommodates all other work that affects your project resources

For example, where in my PPM system can I find my service request ticket that is affecting my ability to complete my project tasks on time? There are several components of PPM that are essential and the most important one is resource management.  If you can’t effectively manage your resources how will you end up with a quality product within budget and delivered on time?  Once again, the answer is, you can’t.  In order to perform the resource management functions needed to obtain project success you must capture all work, not just project tasks.  Let’s say that Jim and Bill are working on my project and I can’t figure out why they are so far behind on their tasks.  I go into the PPM system and I see that they are only 50% allocated to three projects combined. As a PM that doesn’t give me the insight needed to effectively manage my resources.  It also doesn’t help Jim and Bill with productivity because most likely they have a different system for every type of work they are managing.  The solution?  Your PPM system must have the ability to manage all work associated with all resources so that you can properly manage your organization’s most valuable assets… your resources.  If you can remove the silos of information spread across your organization and accommodate all work in one solution, not only will you increase productivity but you could potentially reduce significant costs by eliminating unnecessary infrastructure, reducing the need for dedicated system expertise and removing the ongoing expense of maintaining redundant systems.

# 3 – PPM systems seldom represent a complete portfolio making visibility into all investments

Have you ever looked at your project portfolio in your PPM system and wondered why you are only seeing $265,000 worth of projects when you know you have allocated three times that amount for execution? Projects are everywhere, not just in your PMO or IT departments. You buy into project management because it proves to be valuable.  It is worth investing dollars to hire project managers to manage the large projects; it’s almost like buying insurance.  You need to protect your original investment of saying “yes” let’s execute on it!  But an organization’s portfolio will never be complete without including all the small projects that keep the business running.  Projects are everywhere and so are the resources running those initiatives.  Isn’t visibility into all your investments critical in understanding your true portfolio health?  A true PPM system must be able to accommodate all projects large and small which means project management maturity will vary.  A PPM system, in order to accomplish a complete portfolio, must provide tools for both complex schedule management as well as lightweight schedule management…no project management scheduling expertise needed.   It is not realistic to believe that every project in your organization will be run by a true seasoned and experienced project manager.  It is essential to consider all aspects of your work portfolio, accommodate all projects and offer a tool for every user in your organization.  

Every user within your organization will have different needs.  As you can see from the challenges mentioned above, it is critical to accommodate and meet the needs of all users within your project AND work management tool.  As you begin discussions of building a solution for your organization, don’t forget to consider all users that will eventually play a role in acceptance and usability.

Keep an eye open next week for PPM for the Enterprise Part 2, “Understanding Maturity”.