Before a PPM

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We originally wrote this article back in 2019. Given some recent conversations, we thought it may be interesting to do an update. It became even more interesting to see how little things have changed…

Before you think about upgrading or implementing a Project, Portfolio Management solution (PPM) here are six key questions that will help you plan for success.

The introduction of a new or upgraded solution into an organisation can be a great experience or it can be a stressful experience. It can succeed in delivering the intended 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 have a go at answering the questions below to see if your organisation is ready.

Is the Value Proposition clearly understood, regardless of which PPM is selected? 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 while for others there may be a negative impact. By understanding the value proposition the solution offers each group, the value proposition can be more clearly articulated as stakeholders are engaged. Clearly articulated value propositions will often pave the way for future success and uptake.

Has the future Operating Model been defined and is it understood? The future operating model should define in some detail, how the organisation wants to work to deliver change. This may be referred to as the future ways of working. The future operating model may be described in service models and process flows or may be defined in a “playbook”.  As a minimum it should consider if:

  • change will be delivered using projects as the identified delivery unit or if more of a lean portfolio approach will be used.
  • change will be delivered using one or more delivery modes (sequential / known outcome (waterfall), iterative / exploratory (Agile)
  • projects will typically be led by a Project Manager or be delivered in more of a team, tribe structure (Scaled Agile)
  • the lifecycle of all projects are similar or if there are different project types with different lifecycles
  • the intent is to manage initiatives or work or both
  • projects are internally funded (using a business case construct), alternatively are initiatives funded using a capacity based Lean / Agile model, or is the work primarily contracted work with associated purchase orders and invoicing

The PPM solution should be selected for its ability to “enable” the proposed way of working.

Have you considered the support of a champion?  A champion who is well respected across the organisation and is prepared to be visible in their support for the implementation can help provide significant momentum for the implementation of a PPM solution and the associated embedding of the ways of working.  This is especially true if the person is a change agent who is able to listen to and address the concerns of others.

Way of Working and Toolset in Parallel or separate? The PPM solution is only ever an enabler of the way of working. To be effective there must be a clear way of working and the solution must be implemented in a way that supports it. An implementation plan may introduce both the way of working and the solution at the same time, or it may be sequenced one before the other. Different approaches work in different situations. It is important to think through what approach is right for your situation. 

Managing Change and Embedding New Usage Patterns …. can be difficult. It is not just a matter of providing training and a few communications. Change starts early and starts with listening. It requires a respectful plan to win the hearts and minds of a range of people, some of whose jobs may be made more difficult by the implementation of the solution.  Does your organisation have a strong history of managing change? Is there a clear approach and a plan for introducing the change successfully and making it stick?

What happens the day after go-live? They say the day of the solution going live should be the worst day of its 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 various groups to ensure the going in value proposition is delivered and there is a 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? 

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

Exco Partners is a trusted PPM Partner and implementer for a number of different solutions. We are also a Microsoft Gold Partner for Project, Portfolio Management.

If you have any questions about implementing a PPM Solution, please give us a call.