Before a PPM

With a new Calendar year comes new ideas and plans. If one of those plans is to implement a Portfolio and Project Management or Enterprise Project Management solution (PPM or EPM) here are 5 key questions that you will need to find the answer to before you start.

The introduction of a new toolset into an organisation can be a great experience or it can be a stressful experience. It can succeed in delivering the planned outcomes and benefits or it can fail dismally. Often failures are a result of focusing too much on tool selection and functionality, not enough on the impact a new toolset will have on the people who will be expected to use it. Before embarking on a PPM journey or even deciding which tool is best, have a go at answering the questions below to see if your organisation is ready.

  • Has the future Operating Model been defined in detail? The future operating model should define in detail, how the organisation wants to be able to operate in the future and addresses the role of the PPM solution as an enabler. As a minimum it should consider:
    • What size and volume of projects the organisation is likely to tackle?
    • If projects will be delivered using one or more techniques (sequential (waterfall), parallel (Agile)
    • If other work (BAU / Dev Ops) needs to be factored in
    • Will all projects be led by a Professional Project Manager?
    • What maturity level will be expected of various project management disciplines?
    • Who will need to do what / when in order to initiate, manage and close projects?
    • Does the organisation have multiple Portfolios and Programmes that projects belong within?
    • Is the intent to manage projects or work or both?
    • Are projects internally funding and orientated or are they contracted work with associated purchase orders and invoicing?
  • Is the Value Proposition clearly understood? The implementation of a PPM solution is typically triggered by a need to fix a problem or exploit an opportunity. Either way there will be a range of people performing a range of roles that will need to engage with the solution. For some, there will be significant benefits for others there may be a negative impact. By understanding the value proposition the solution offers each group, it is more likely the solution will be more complete in addressing the needs of all groups. As a result, it is also likely the volume of resistance during implementation will be reduced.
  • Has a Visible and Respected Champion been identified? Sure an implementation is likely to be run as a project and have an identified Sponsor, but that person is not necessarily the one that can provide visible support and enthusiasm for the solution. A person who is well respected by all sides in portfolio and project management communities and is prepared to be visible in their support for the implementation can help provide the light for others to follow. This is especially true if the person is a change agent who is able to listen to and address concerns or others.
  • Managing Change and Embedding New Usage Patterns …. can be difficult. It is not just a matter of providing training and Comms. Communicating the intended change and benefit before the implementation, addressing concerns in the leadup, providing training, then working with teams to embed the intended usage patterns and help them to become normal day to day practice are all important steps in getting the benefits out of the system. Does your organisation have a good reputation for managing change? Is there a clear approach and a plan for imbedding change?
  • What happens the day after go live? They say the solution going live should be the worst day of it’s life. From that point the owner of the solution will need to manage ongoing change and improvement to continue to adjust the solution to meet the changing needs of the organisation. The owner will need to continue to work closely with the various user groups to ensure the going in value proposition is delivered and plan for improvements into the future. People will come and go and need to be added and trained, new ideas and projects will need to be added to the system and finished projects closed. Has someone been identified as the ongoing operational owner for the solution and do they have a plan for doing so?  Who makes decisions on future changes ?

Exploring these questions and knowing the answers to them before starting the PPM journey will ensure the implementation has a high chance of success and will provide the background to support an appropriate toolset selection process.