Spreadsheets, word documents and emails are fine for small organizations who are beginning to use Project Management practices but as they grow, and projects become more complex, they will get to a stage where they need Project Management software in order to become more efficient.
Many projects in large organizations are still managed through the use of spreadsheets and word documents and although they are comfortable with this system the use of such programs may, inadvertently, be hiding problems from project managers.
In his latest blog Paul Rees, Cora Systems’ Head of Client Delivery, offers five key reasons why you may need Project Management software and the benefits that it can bring.
5 Reasons Why You Need Project Management Software
1. Connecting – and streamlining – disjointed processes
A lot of the time organizations are very manual in the processes they have. Approvals on projects, for example, and the flow of information through the organization – it tends to be in the format of Excel, PowerPoint, email and standalone systems. The manpower that it takes to manually hand-crank that project info is a massive burden and overhead – and a waste of typically expensive project resources.
What a project and portfolio management (PPM) solution does is connects those disparate elements together into a “single source of truth”. That gives you far more efficient ways of working – in terms of turnaround times; in terms of new staff knowing exactly where to go for project information so they can get up-to-speed quickly.
A big unintended benefit also is that it allows you to improve some of those processes. There is a lot of bluff in the vendor market about “digitizing processes”, but you want to improve those business processes as well. Otherwise, by just digitizing all you’re doing is making an inefficient process faster. If you can make it a more efficient process then it benefits everyone.
There are underlying processes within every organization in their varying project environments. There’ll be different approvals, for example, based on different sets of criteria. For instance, there could be a change on a project. That change might be a small change where there would be a delegated framework in place and that means with a good PPM solution the project team can effectively sign that change off easily.
If it’s a larger change, you might need to go through three or four project boards for approval. By digitizing that process, it allows the project manager or project team to understand exactly: where are the approvals? Who is sign-off with? If things are slowed up in that process it allows them to identify precisely who to chase down on that issue.
2. Single source of info leading to better decisions
If you’ve got one central, consolidated location to store and link all your project data – somewhere to go for your scope; schedule; risks & issues; costs; resourcing – you can use that to slice and dice for different audiences. Data provenance is important, but so too is the data visualization. It means you can use the same information for different types of stakeholders – internal as well as external.
When it comes to internal stakeholders, quite often project managers in a PMO will be reporting on the health of projects and programs so typically organizations would have project steering boards and a senior management team who would be looking at a consolidated view of that PPM information. The main thing those senior execs want to do is use information for decision-making. If they have access to timely, accurate project info (and they’re sure on data integrity) that leads to better decisions being made.
As regards external stakeholders – depending on sector – it could be investors, funding organizations, or in, say, the public sector healthcare it could be NHS England or NHS Digital, as a governing body. They’ll have an interest in how that money is being spent and also the look ahead as to whether that money is going to deliver benefits that effectively the original business cases were built on.
3. Data visualization and moving in the right direction
We use a lot of live dashboards in a PPM solution and that gives you a very good operational view of how projects, programs and portfolios are performing. This gives you very good snapshot information. It allows you to see direction of travel when it comes to assessing if the project is improving matters in the business or service.
If, for example, it comes to an “amber” status on a project: has that moved from “red” to “amber” or has it moved from “green” to “amber”? There’s obviously a big difference. Red to amber is a positive move so you’re going to be less worried about the project whereas if it’s moving from “green” to “amber” then there’s a chance it will move to “red”. A good PPM solution allows you to get early sight of potential anomalies and issues and allows you to step in early.
4. Reducing reporting time from weeks to minutes
Historically, if you don’t have a central, consolidated PPM platform when it comes to a month-end report, for example, it might take three weeks to consolidate the information from different sources. You’re having to manually chase project managers for delivery dates. You’re having to consolidate several different Excel files, lots of different narratives from different sources (e.g. emails, etc.).
By the time you’ve put that month-end report out, you’re probably three weeks into the next month –and the whole time-consuming rigmarole has begun again. If the project is in trouble, all you’re ever able to do is say is: “As of three weeks’ ago, we were in trouble.”
With a real-time PPM solution, which is kept up to date – and there is an onus on project teams to keep it up to date – and because it’s central, all your reporting, all your dashboards are extracting live project information. The upshot is that reporting time is massively reduced – from weeks to minutes.
5. Good governance and visibility bring peace of mind
From a PMO perspective, what a PPM solution brings is visibility, governance and assurance. PMOs typically have two primary roles. The first is governance, assurance and advice. What they tend to look for is best practice and rigorous reporting, and how they can disseminate that project info throughout the organization. Having “one version of the truth” on project data allows governance structures to dip in and see project data quickly, easily and in digestible forms of information.
Second, the role of the PMO is to police.
By having checkpoints, gateways and assurances, it enables them to properly police the project methodologies and processes and ensure workflows are actually being followed. So in essence, a good PPM platform allows them to use both the carrot and the stick. It’s invaluable having that 360-degree control.
Find Out More
I hope this post has helped to explain the need Project Management Software and the benefits that it can bring to your organization. If you want to discuss any of the above in more detail feel free to contact me via email – firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to assist. To see how Cora PPM compares to other PPM categories click here.