If you’ve ever bought any kind of technical solution for your organization, you know that it’s not that easy. There are so many variables to consider. One that seems to confuse decision-makers often is buying for the growth stage they are at vs. the stage that they project to be at in the future. The three main considerations that you need to keep in balance when thinking about your next PPMsoftware purchase are:
- Current known requirements
- Future unknown requirements
- Effective Change Management
Simple tools work well for smaller teams, but as you scale, you need to consider solutions that will also scale. The interesting thing about scalable solutions is that they can give your company the digital space it needs to grow with no disruption. When you have to upgrade your solution, When you have to slow down operations to upgrade your project management solution, it can cause some disruptions due to retraining, changes in processes, and technical adjustments.
In this article, we’re going to take a moment to share the three best practices we’ve discovered while working with our clients over the past 15 years. Our hope is that we can provide you with accurate information for choosing PPM software so that you will make the right choice.
Flexible Resource Management
When a team is small, its projects are normally small meaning that the resources required are much less and more manageable with simple tools. As the team grows, or the projects become larger and more complex, the requirements for resource management will also change.
When resources are not managed well the consequences can be severe. The cost of badly managed resources is poor team performance.
Here’s what can go wrong:
- Work assigned to the wrong people: People who don’t have the right skills will be handed work that isn’t a good fit for them. This will cause a drop in the quality of work and slow things down.
- Time is Mismanaged: The result of mismanaged time is that tasks will take forever to complete. When it comes to effective resource management – the time is of the essence.
- Stress Levels Skyrocket: When resources are not managed well, it leads to stress. Stress leads to unproductive and unhappy team members.
- Mismanaged vendor relationships due to resource “unknowns”. When you don’t have a handle of your resources, how can you predict when things will be completed? How can you know exactly how much they will cost? It’s difficult to tell. This kind of uncertainty can lead to strained vendor or relationships, or worse – no relationship at all.
- Projects go over budget: Small issues will add up to create some very big budget problems. When none of your resources are being managed will, this is a given.
Using resource management software can positively impact the outcome of your projects by preventing all of the above from happening. Being able to simulate a project during the planning phase is a major advantage because it helps mitigate risk, improving the chances of success.
Real-time visibility for Executives
As your organization grows, you’ll be managing more information due to increased resources and projects. At this point, you’ll need something that will help with not only the day-to-day task reporting, but with portfolio optimization and cross-project performance tracking using advanced analytics.
What is advanced analytics?
Advanced analytics is the branch of data science that is focused on using high-level methods and tools to predict future events and trends. This kind of information is useful for both project managers and executives because they allow you to play out “what-if” scenarios in order to help mitigate risks or expedite a project.
Here’s how advanced analytics can help:
Having the right data allows you to make better decisions, not just in the moment but for the future. You can use data by first identifying what information is most important to you. What KPI’s do you want to track? What information do you need to use to optimize your portfolios?
Once you’ve selected your KPI’s, it’s time to set them up on a dashboard. At Easy Projects, customers who manage large amounts of data subscribe to using our Business Intelligence Suite. It has the capability to crunch huge amounts of data and display it in a simple and elegant way.
Once everything is on the dashboard you’ll be able to see what is happening with all of your projects at a glance. You’ll be able to see important information immediately and have a good idea how your projects are performing, where the bottlenecks are and how to solve them.
A dashboard like this will also help improve communication with your team, help you make accurate decisions and provide numerical evidence when there is a problem.
Not having access to the big picture via a dashboard can leave you in the dark about the progress that your team is making, and makes it almost impossible to successfully manage a portfolio. With low visibility, projects will take longer to complete and can easily go over budget. By having numerical insights at your fingertips, you are actively future-proofing your projects. You’ll be able to detect patterns and stop potential threats from derailing your projects.
Demand management is the process of identifying, selecting, prioritizing and assigning resources to project requests based on your organization’s cardinal measures. These measures may incorporate value drivers, strategic alignment and risk assessment data. Incorporating demand management in your project management organization will ensure that you are focusing on the right work while being able to communicate the rationale behind your decisions for selected (and abandoned) projects to key stakeholders appropriately.
“An effective goal-setting system starts with disciplined thinking at the top, with leaders who invest the time and energy to choose what counts.”
One of the greatest advantages that companies like Intel, Google and Apple have is the acuteness of their strategic alignment. According to John Doeer, author of the book Measure What Matters, strategic alignment from top to bottom and vice versa is the real key to success in any organization. Everything your team is working on should be aligned with your company’s strategic direction, vision, and mission. This makes work easier because deciding on priorities is no longer an issue.
Let’s take a step back and take a look at how this would play out on the project level.
The first thing that comes to mind is resource management – a key component to any project. Knowing your priorities as an organization will assist in understanding where your resources would be best put to use. To do this, you need to have a complete understanding of how resources are currently being put to use and what needs to shift into alignment. You should also have a way of ensuring alignment before a project begins.
You can do this in Easy Projects with our resource planning software. The software allows you to get the big picture of who is working on what, their capacity, workload and more.
The second tool you can use in Easy Projects reports. You can create a custom prioritization report based on value risk and efforts which will result in an integrated score which automatically prioritizes what work is most important based on the variables you input. Learn more about custom reports here.
Without Demand Management, your team could be wasting a lot of time working on things that are not the top priority. Having everyone on the same page is critical to PPM success.
“When people have conflicting priorities or unclear, meaningless, or arbitrarily shifting goals, they become frustrated, cynical, and demotivated.” ― John Doerr,
Bonus: Machine Learning & The Future
Artificial Intelligence is everywhere these days, including project management. Getting to know how these new technologies will impact work is a good future-proofing tactic. Here’s how it can benefit you:
People are not naturally good at risk management. We’re good at planning, but we can’t accurately predict when something could go wrong. PPM is all about choosing projects with a mix of both risk and reward – this requires very accurate assessment abilities and the sharpest logical minds. Fortunately for us, computers are very good at this and that’s where project portfolio managers will be able to benefit from AI.
Some things to consider when looking for a PPM solution that includes AI:
- Choose a vendor that wants to combine humans’ best qualities with machine learning (not replace humans)
- Orient your organization towards continuous improvement by harvesting months and years of data to give you trends you were not aware of (sort of help you see your “blind spots”. as a head of PMO in the future)
Artificial intelligence always comes down to the quality of the data that you use. What could work for one project might not work for another because the variables for success are always changing. For example, if you’re having a 60 percent success rate using AI, and then realize that the seasons impact your outcomes, you could include seasons as a variable and maybe see a 20 percent uptick. It’s all about how you build the data models which is, what we believe, companies will be focused on perfecting over the next few years.
At Easy Projects, our AI forecasting crunches 8-12 months of data paired with over 50 variables to help predict when a project will be completed.
In conclusion, as you go on your journey through the world of project management software, look to the future and keep these things in mind when you’re looking for the perfect PPM software:
- Look for a solution that allows for flexible resource management
- Make sure the solution you choose comes with executive-level dashboards
- Consider a solution that helps you easily prioritize and ensure your team is working on the right projects
- Consider developments in Artificial Intelligence and choose a software solution that has a promising product roadmap to support all of your future requirements.
Thank you for reading! Please leave a comment if you have questions or have a great idea to help your fellow project managers & executives.