Often the problem with understanding the challenges of implementing a project and portfolio management (PPM) solution is that we only consider it from the perspective of Project Managers and the PMO.
This is short-sighted. A good PPM solution will positively impact the whole organization. It has a profound effect on key stakeholders in the business. In this four-part blog series, we ask two industry experts what different leaders in the organization gain from PPM. In part one we examine the discipline from the perspective of the Chief Financial Officer.
How the Chief Financial Officer Can Benefit From PPM Software:
Philip Martin, CEO, Cora Systems
A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) needs to look at the value of your assets. You’ll want a handle on the net present value of projects. You’ll want to know the work put into a product. Where is it in production? You want to have insight into cash flow. What is the spending going to be on the company’s portfolio of projects? What are the benefits going to be from those projects?
CFOs are also interested, of course, in the forecast and estimate completion of the project itself because that determines what cash they need to generate. If the CFO has control over projections for, say, one or two years out, they can make sure the business is well-financed. If it’s not, they can go looking for cash. Early planning gives them breathing space. It can ensure the business is well funded.
For the big players, finance is all about revenue. It’s about making sure the benefits of the product actually deliver the projected revenue. If it didn’t, who is to blame? If it did, who is to be praised and rewarded?
A big item the CFO is involved in, too, is portfolio planning and strategy realization. So it’s basically when you give out money to Plant A, Plant B, or Plant Z, you want control over things like cost improvement programs (CIPs). You want to make sure you have stretch targets for your plants. You want to ensure portfolio planning for those plants is done properly. The Finance Department is typically involved in the whole portfolio planning for any of those big pharmaceutical companies.
Above all, a CFO wants to know about a project’s profitability. They want to see program probability. They want to see product profitability. They want to see plant profitability. A good PPM solution will deliver that insight easily to a CFO.
Paul Rees, Head of Client Services, Cora Systems:
For a CFO, it’s all about following the money. Without a PPM solution, the challenges a CFO has to begin with the absence of visibility on understanding what projects are ongoing. What is the current project spend? When will client money be brought in as a result of client projects? That lack of information impinges on cashflow. Having that visibility of spend versus income – which a PPM solution delivers at your fingertips – is key.
Also from a CFO perspective, they want to know about resource pinch-points. Is there stress on resources? If there is, it implies the need for increasing headcount, which, of course, means increasing costs.
As a CFO, you’re also looking for that throughput from sales to delivery. You want a handle on overall resourcing levels so you can staff adequately, according to your revenue streams. If you can see opportunities converting from sales into delivery, and then into a closure (with associated invoices), you can start to see the overall health of a project portfolio. It’s about common sense. Project closures and cash flow are an essential part of a balanced scorecard.
How Cora PPM can help the Chief Financial Officer
- Dashboards: rolled-up view of whether projects are over-or under-spending at project and program level so you can quickly view the financial health of your portfolios.
- High-level cost management: Capture monthly summary data for budget, forecast, and actual spending.
- Service cost management and revenue forecasting: Track project revenue, gross margin, and gross margin percentages with integrated change control all from within the forecasting module and route monthly forecast submissions through a workflow for approval.
- Capital/operational expenditure: Track capital and operational expenditure at the CBS level and through work packages as well as tracking contingency against AFC (anticipated final cost)
- Import financial information: import data from a financial management system to show actual project costs compare with initial budgets, cost estimates, and forecasts; with any variance highlighted.