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How to Maximize Your Investment in PPM Tools

Monitoring and managing evolving strategic goals across an entire portfolio can be stressful for project managers, especially with multiple projects at various stages of execution.  To effectively manage projects and resources, it takes a consistent and focused effort.  And, it requires the right project portfolio management tools (PPM).

Project portfolio management software allows you to evaluate potential projects by success and risk, allowing you to plan staffing allocations, resource utilization, management resources, and timelines to maximize organizational performance.

Project planning is essential to keep everyone focused on your organization’s high-level goals and objectives.  As you evaluate current project status, new projects, and capacity planning, your project and portfolio management platform will consolidate everything to centralize operations. PPM solutions provide the foundation for efficient resource planning and collaborative work management.

How Do Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Tools Provide a Better ROI?

Project portfolio management produces higher success rates by aligning projects with company goals.  By managing your portfolio of projects more efficiently, you also gain a stronger return on investment.

Your professional services delivery team and your entire organization will benefit from positive outcomes, including high-level views, improved capacity planning and resource management, better productivity, increased agility, and better return on investment (ROI). PPM tools also help you avoid the common mistakes companies make when analyzing and executing projects.

Create and Maintain High-Level Thinking

Besides executing projects at a granular level, key stakeholders can visualize how projects, programs, and portfolios align with your organizational goals.  This keeps teams focused on the big picture and helps connect project milestones to broader goals.

Improve Capacity and Resourcing Management

When managing project scope, a significant challenge is the efficient use of resources and maximizing capacity. By effectively managing your portfolio, you decrease the risk of wasted resources by ensuring effective sequencing and leveraging resources to meet deliverables.

Maximize Productivity

When team members understand the importance of project tasks and how they relate to the overall value, they are more likely to be productive.  Companies with a highly engaged workforce have been shown to have a competitive edge in productivity compared to their competitors.  A Gallup report on employee engagement suggests companies that achieve these productivity gains are 21% more profitable than other companies.

Employee buy-in is essential to maximize productivity.

Increase Agility

As we’ve all learned over the past few years, agility is key to success.  Anticipating changes and dealing with unanticipated events can be the difference between success and failure in project portfolio management.  PPM tools provide the ability to quickly assess various scenarios to make mid-course corrections, shift resources, and align projects to evolving strategies.

As obstacles arise in projects or external forces dictate a pivot to new goals, you need project management tools to manage change and adapt quickly.

Improve ROI

All of this adds up to better ROI.  Project portfolio management software keeps things running smoothly to meet your goals. It significantly increases the likelihood of finishing projects on time and within budget to provide the greatest return on your investment.

You can calculate the potential ROI utilizing Cora PPM tools with this Project Portfolio Management ROI Calculator.

Project Portfolio Management team brainstorm session

Avoiding Common Project Management Mistakes

There are plenty of reasons projects can get behind schedule or exceed the budget.  Gaps in your portfolio management strategy can diminish the value of your investments quickly, especially if you allow these common mistakes to occur.

Adding New Projects without Assessing Impact

You need a formal system for evaluating projects against overall company goals, resources, and timelines.  Too often, organizations will add projects without determining the impact on the broader portfolio.  PPM tools create a natural review process to filter projects to see how they will affect what’s already in the pipeline.

The same goes for evaluating changes in project scope or goals once projects are underway.  You need an effective mechanism to evaluate the impact of changes not only on individual projects but also on how the changes will impact your overall project portfolio.

Missing Project Data

Failing to track the relevant data associated with projects is common.  That may be fine in small companies with only a handful of projects, but enterprise companies need a more robust way to collect, track, and analyze data effectively.  Without solid, real-time information about current projects, it’s difficult to manage them properly.  It’s also challenging to forecast or determine the impact of new projects on the portfolio.

Forgetting Project Reviews

Another common mistake organizations make is a lack of project reviews.  Once projects get onto the list, they never seem to leave, even if company priorities shift.  Companies using PPM tools can review projects more easily and see how eliminating low-level projects can impact higher-priority projects.

Failing to Analyze Portfolio Health

While it’s important to track individual projects, organizations also need an easy way to visualize their entire project portfolio.  Maintaining visibility at both the micro and macro level can help maximize the ROI of your investment value.

Lack of Clear Communication

Projects can also stall when there is a lack of clear communication for stakeholders.  Everyone on the team should know exactly where projects are at all times and where they stand within company priorities.  This is especially important when resources need to shift to accommodate evolving goals. 

Not only does poor communication create confusion, but it is also a key to reducing employee turnover.  Nearly 70% of employees say they would be less likely to quit their jobs if the company communicated better.

Each of these mistakes is avoidable with the right PPM software guiding your project portfolio management and strategic portfolio management process.

Project management team updating planning schedule with Gantt chart on computer at the office to communicate on task progress and plan the next deliverables. Program manager and assistant discussing

Project Portfolio Management

The best PPM software will combine strategic and execution functionality to help you make the right investments.

  • Gain strategic insights to deliver maximum value
  • Scale as needed to handle unlimited projects
  • Support project governance and oversight
  • Visualize portfolio health at a glance with drill-down capabilities
  • Manage scope, financials, progress, and quality from a centralized dashboard
  • Allow collaboration between internal and external teams
  • Seamlessly integrate into your workflow

The right project portfolio management solutions will help you design the strategy to optimize capacity, analyze scenarios, track benefits, and keep all your stakeholders informed.

Working capital management Managing working capital business case public capital projects

Strategic Portfolio Management

Strategic portfolio management requires in-depth visibility into every aspect of your projects to improve decisioning.  A PPM analysis tool lets you identify which projects best fit your portfolio, so you can select and manage them efficiently, the Holy Grail for effective strategic portfolio management (SPM).

The best SPM software will focus on four fundamental pillars.

  1. Inventory: A centralized platform that gathers all the information you need to make data-driven decisions about your portfolio.
  2. Analysis: Provide the data analytics you need to make logical and aligned portfolio choices.
  3. Balance:  The ability to run scenario analysis to maximize resource planning and utilization by projecting what-if scenarios
  4. Execution: Effectively manage the entire portfolio by tracking progress against goals

The right SPM software goes beyond just aligning your projects with your overall business strategy, however.  It provides the foundation for aligning your entire organization’s approach to project management.  It takes the guesswork out of project planning and helps avoid costly “CEO specials” to increase your return on investment.

SPM Use Cases

When evaluating projects, you also need to look at specific use cases for project portfolio management, such as project controls, strategic capacity management, and resource capacity management.

project controls software

Project Controls

By effectively managing and integrating costs, schedules, and data, you can proactively monitor and control projects.

One of the biggest challenges project managers face is sourcing the information they need at the right time.  Outdated or missing information can quickly cause projects to go off track.  You need to track progress and view deliverables across the full project lifecycle from design to closeout. 

Tracking progress and managing performance with project controls help keep you on track to meet your goals.

You also need an easy way to forecast.  By comparing actual and committed costs against budgets, you can more accurately forecast the impact of changes and delays.  This allows you to respond more quickly when project problems arise and take corrective action.

Project controls also help you to manage your budget, risks, and changes.

Budget Management

By integrating budgets into individual project tasks, you can calculate the cost and quickly look at variances.  Used as benchmarks throughout the project, this provides transparent data for stakeholders.

Risk Management

The earlier you can identify risks and manage them, the more smooth your project will be.  Project controls allow you to continuously monitor risks and develop contingency plans for mitigation.  This helps reduce the impact of these risks on your budget and timeline.

Change Management

Projects often change or evolve during execution.  Change management is crucial to tracking changes and providing an accurate audit trail to maintain accountability. 

A holistic approach to project costs, data, project information, and interdependencies can help overcome the challenges project managers face and avoid costly, overdue projects.

Strategic capacity planning meeting

Strategic Capacity Management

Another specific use case for your PPM tools is strategic capacity planning and management.

Strategic capacity planning helps you maximize utilization and resources.  With complete visibility of real-time data, you can anticipate the demand for resources and plan allocations.  The right PPM tools will help you avoid task clashes and bottlenecks by balancing the workload across your teams and portfolios.  This helps you prioritize the most important tasks.

Many projects stall because of a lack of capacity management.  When project managers underestimate the resources needed to meet demand, it can impact multiple projects in their portfolios.  You need a way to forecast demand by resource skill type and apply scenario modeling to anticipate the impact of delays or clashes.

Strategic capacity management produces the data you need to monitor overall project delivery, manage the demand and allocation of resources, and evaluate the impact of new projects on your existing portfolio.

 

Resource Management

When it comes to resource management, you need real-time data to plan and execute project schedules and balance workloads efficiently.  Resource management software ensures your resources are allocated to the right projects at the right time.

You need to be able to visualize how your resources are deployed currently and plan to be deployed in the future to avoid conflicts.  By allocating users to tasks and budgeting labor costs, you create a more accurate forecasting model.  Time tracking helps you keep projects on schedule while forecasting models help you prepare contingency plans for potential risks to estimate at completion (EAC) for project and portfolio levels.

Resource management will help you plan, execute, and track performance.

Resource Planning

Task-level resourcing, down to skilled or named users, helps you plan and track tasks costs.

Execution

As work as assigned to resources, you can track project activity on a day-by-day basis while forecasting the impact on your short-term and long-term goals and deliverables.

Tracking

Your PPM tool implementation project plan should include an easy way to track the actual costs associated with work performance.  It should also create automatic alerts to notify stakeholders about resource allocations along with prompts and reminders about deliverables or overdue tasks for remediation.

All of this needs to be consolidated into one centralized platform to maximize your investment in PPM tools. When you have to merge data sets from disparate systems, it makes it difficult to evaluate the impact of resource planning against your larger portfolio of projects.  A centralized PPM platform provides a single view of the truth, reduces your reporting time, and allows for better data-driven decisions.

Maximize Your Investment in PPM Tools with Cora Systems

Cora PPM provides you with everything you need to manage your project portfolio efficiently to maximize your investment.  Cora PPM lets you analyze multiple scenarios, track benefits, and outcomes, and make sure your stakeholders stay informed with real-time information.

By digitizing your projects and tracking performance, you can make data-driven decisions about the most effective ways to allocate resources and budgets.  Centralizing all of the project management across lifecycles lets you plan, prioritize, execute, and evaluate your project portfolios in one place.

Contact the project management experts at Cora Systems today for a personalized demo.