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

Our last article discussed the 4 main classifications of tools, as we see them, for teams that believe they have outgrown the applications current supporting their projects or portfolio.

In this article, we’ll actually discuss what teams might need to consider in order to come to a conclusion about which tools suit their requirements.

That last word is the key:  REQUIREMENTS.  Treat it like a project.  You’re about to make an investment, so make sure you do your due diligence on what you must have.

Caveat:  Agile is not considered here.  If your organization is investigating a move to an Agile development methodology I would urge you to read articles written by people who have real experience with Agile (and the battle scars to prove it), like this one.

Typical considerations for inclusion into the requirements of a Project and Portfolio Management System (not all inclusive):

  1. What data are the project managers and schedulers responsible for estimating and managing?
    1. Activities and Milestones – generally a given
    2. Progress – where are we?
    3. Baselines – how are we doing against our estimates and what has happened since our last update?
    4. Resources – Who is doing what? Do we have what we need?HumanResources
    5. Cost – What will this cost us? How are we tracking to the estimate?
    6. Other attributes? – There are probably an unlimited amount of things that you could think to track on a project.  What do you need to keep tabs on?
  2. What level of detail and accuracy is required?
    1. Are you creating and managing high-level plans or are you producing and tracking very detailed plans that are updated several times daily?
    2. What is the impact if the plan isn’t exact?
  3. What are the communication/reporting needs?
    1. Will data from multiple plans need to be collected/integrated into one place?
    2. Will reports need to be produced using all data within the system?
    3. Who are the audiences that will need to review the data and what do they require?
    4. Will actuals for resources and cost need to be collected and reported?
    5. Does the organization need any level of standardization?
  4. Does the organization have the ability to hire an administrator?
    1. Many of the PPM tools must be “built” or configured (to a certain extent), beyond their out of the box capabilities.  Who will do that?
    2. As the platform stabilizes this workload will go down, but the initial lift will be significant and must be accounted for.
  5. What will the new applications require in terms of training?
    1. What is the capacity of the organization to learn new applications?
    2. Do the new application vendors offer training and at what cost?
  6. What are the technical requirements?
    1. What is the mechanism for download and installation?
    2. Are there different versions of the application (desktop vs. server)?
    3. How often are upgrades introduced and how will they applied?
    4. Will upgrades cost anything?
    5. How is the application licensed?
  7. How much of this application will our organization actually use (try and achieve a percentage)?

That last question is critical in that many organizations often end up with a tool that is much more than they will ever need or use.  The crux is estimating and tracking resources and cost.  If your company MUST have this, then you need a project or portfolio-level application, because your needs fit what those tools were made for.

If your organization is a bit loose on resources and cost as it relates to projects, then you can get away with a pure project management-level application, since you’ll be focused on scheduling and reporting.

We’d be happy to jump on the phone and help you figure out what might be best for you, and would also love to hear about any of your past experiences on this topic!  Please post a comment or feel free to email us anytime at [email protected].  Good luck!

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

About Jay

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 OnePager software in a multitude of applications.

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