There are many and various Project and Portfolio solutions available of these many offer a good range of services and functions that service a good deal of the organisations need. So why are there not more implementations of these tools and why do they seem to fail or fall into disuse.
A well implemented PPM tool will save time and allow access to critical information that enables the group, department or organisation to make better decisions on what projects to select and which one should continue to be supported. Nearly all allow collaboration on resource management, risks, change control as well as planning and dependencies, they also tend to drive projects and programmes to a common reporting format and a consistent portfolio dashboard.
It seems that many organisations look to address short falls in their Project and Programme management process by using a PPM tool. Although it can help provide a home for good recording and act as an enabler for consistent process; the community using the tool need to have a level of maturity and a willingness to act together that is a precursor to a successful PPM solution.
If the project delivery teams do not see the benefit of the tool its implementation is likely to fail.
Project managers need to understand what key elements are required in their portfolio or programme and the tool be used to ease the process of providing the key items. In teams where there is a high percentage of less experience project management they are less familiar with solid project governance so the introduction of a tool simply magnifies the issues already in place. In larger project delivery teams of hundreds of projects it is likely that there will be a board cross section of skill and experience, in all the aligning and tuning of a PPM tool it is easy to miss engaging with the key users – your project managers, leaders and project team members
In some instances the expectation of executive stakeholders has taken over and driven the process. Senior managers hoping that the tool will resolve many issues in a very short timescale. But the underlining capability of the project delivery function might not be ready to effectively provide the expected level of data and step change in performance.
The range of tools does vary and on some occasions the tool itself does not provide the flexibility to match the demands of the business. But most of the PPM packages offer a reasonable blend of functionality and this sort of problem should ideally have been eliminated at the selection phase.
The final blocker I would highlight is the organisation’s willingness to change, not just the project delivery function but their stakeholders and the wider community in the organisation can gain benefit of a well implemented and well used PPM tool.
This is not a complete list of all the reasons PPM tool implementations fail but hopefully offer some food for thought of some areas of key concerns.
It sounds easy to select a tool that matches purpose, and engage with stakeholders, both key users and those informed by the tool. But so many portfolios continue to work with excel spreadsheets and standalone plans and too many PPM implementations fail to maintain core information that they go back to the fragmented situation of standalone answers.
I remain a fan of good tools, but if you are implementing one being aware of the pitfalls can help improve your chances of success.