The Portfolio Management Tipping Point (1 of a 2-part Series)

As we introduce more and more people to OnePager, we often come across people who are researching new tools for their organization.  Their business has matured to a point where the previous mechanisms of project management will simply not provide what is required for the business to be effective.

What becomes apparent, however, is that their trigger to think strategically has come way too late. eyes-out-of-the-water

The teams who have outgrown their ways and means are generally overwhelmed and barely have their heads above water (if at all).  They don’t even have time to eat a meal or take a vacation, let alone try to research, purchase, and implement new methods and tools to support their current initiatives and growth.

While it’s sort of working backward, the below is meant to help organizations understand the main types of tools out there, and in what types of situations they are meant to be applied.  A subsequent article will be published next week to help teams more easily focus their strategic conversations and come to a conclusion on what tools they really need.

4 Classifications of Tools

1. Online Team Sites – Project Team Organization and Centralization

These applications are almost exclusively online and their strength is providing a base location for teams to organize around projects, collaborate, and centralize information.Center-429x271

Some examples are Basecamp (FKA 37signals), Podio, aceproject, teamwork

These applications will be great at their strength, but probably a little feature-deficient for people who need to manage a very detailed project plan or portfolio.

2. Scheduling Applications – Project Management (as well as Portfolio, Resource, and Financial management for small programs)

Think ugly Gantt Chart, timeline, or data sheet.  These tools are to allow a project manager or scheduler to build a plan document task by task, milestone by milestone, with as much additional data as necessary – dependencies, phase groupings, resources, progress indicators, status, baselines, etc.example 1

Some examples of pure scheduling apps are Microsoft Project, Ganttic, Gantter

There are also some newer tools that allow both a “team site” with scheduling abilities like Liquid Planner, Wrike, and WorkZone. However, my experience tells me that as applications are broadened to support more functions they will be pretty good at many things – not really good at any one thing.

3. Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) – All-In-One

These applications exemplify the last statement above – they can do a LOT.  They are meant for organizations who need to estimate and track project schedules, resources, and cost in detail across their entire portfolio of initiatives.swissarmyknife

To use these applications properly will take a different level of commitment on the part of the entire organization.  For example, an organization that previously didn’t have their salaried resources track time will likely need to do so after implementing a PPM tool.  This will allow them a true sense of where their costs are allocated, where they may be short on resources, etc.  …and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Some examples of PPM tools are Microsoft Project Server, Primavera, Planisware, CA PPM (fka Clarity), Daptiv

4. Presentation or Communications Software – The Missing 4th Dimension

Any project manager, or even someone who “plans things” as a part of their role, can tell you how important efficient and clear communications are to managing all aspects of an initiative.  Until recently, everyone had to drag shapes around in PowerPoint, Visio, or some other visualization application in order to achieve the report or graphic they needed.Second snapshot of a Microsoft Project plan created in OnePager Pro

New applications like OnePager fill this gap and allow data-driven professional visuals that are customizable and can be standardized easily.  OnePager is an easy bolt-on to any of the above three classes of applications.

Choosing the right tool or tool suite is going to be critical to arming your team and entire organization with what it needs to achieve its goals.  You want to make certain that you don’t invest in something you don’t need, or worse, something that doesn’t meet your needs.

Our next article will provide more information about how you might break down your requirements to figure out what application(s) will work best for you, given your situation.

This entry was posted in Best Practices, Project Reporting, Project Visualization by Jay. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jay

Devoted father of two, lover of mountains, entrepreneurism, and beer. Jay carries with him fourteen years of project management experience within the cable, telecom, construction, software development, and energy industries. The spectrum of projects and programs that Jay has managed throughout his career is broad and deep, enabling him to help clients implement Chronicle Graphics software in a multitude of applications. His employment history includes positions at Narvaes Construction, Leslie Brothers Construction, CSG Systems, Echostar Satellite Services, Comcast, and Level 3 Communications.

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