There are many and various Project and Portfolio solutions available. Many offer a good range of tools and functions that service a good deal of the organisations need. So why are there not more implementations of PPM Solutions. How come so many PPM tools fail or fall into disuse.
What makes a good PPM solution
A well implemented PPM tool will save time. It should allow access to critical information that enables the group, department or organisation to make better decisions. They are great at helping projects pipeline and selection. As well as supporting reviews on which projects should continue. Nearly all allow collaboration on resource management, risks, change control. Most actively cater for planning and dependencies. These applications also tend to drive projects and programmes to a common reporting format and a consistent portfolio dashboard.
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. Your teams need 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.
Challenges to PPM implementation
Project managers need to understand what key elements are required in their portfolio or programme. The tool needs to capable of easing the process of providing the key items. In teams where there is less experienced project management, they are less familiar with solid project governance. Here the introduction of a tool simply magnifies the issues already in place. In larger delivery teams of hundreds of projects it is likely to see a board cross-section of skills and experience. When aligning and tuning a PPM tool it is easy to miss engaging with the key users. Your project managers, leaders and project team members need to be central.
There are some instances where 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. 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. This is not just the project delivery function but their stakeholders and the wider community in the organisation. Ideally they should all gain from a well implemented and well used PPM tool.
This is not a complete list of all the reasons PPM tool implementations fail. But hopefully it offers some food for thought about the area 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. Too many PPM implementations fail to maintain core information and go back to the fragmented situation of standalone answers.
I remain a fan of good tools. If you are implementing one being aware of the pitfalls can help improve your chances of success.