Do you have plans for project management implementation and wish to introduce an IT tool for project, portfolio and resource management (PPM) in the future? If so, you have come to the right place.
This article introduces three avenues for successful corporate project management implementation: via scheduling, via resource management or via project portfolio management. Which avenue you choose for your project management implementation depends on what focus makes sense for your requirements.
The article will help you with this decision. It describes the different approaches based on the three avenues. You will get answers to the following questions:
- What focus is right for me?
- What aspects should I consider?
- What benefits will each avenue provide?
- What could be my next steps in expanding my PPM tool?
The following chapters await you:
- The PPM Paradise – The prospect for the future
- Begin with a central project list
- Avenue 1: Project management implementation via scheduling
- Avenue 2: Project management implementation via resource management
- Avenue 3: Project management implementation via project portfolio management
- Before you start your project management implementation
What Is a PPM Tool?
A PPM tool is a project and portfolio management solution. Once a company has reached a certain size and number of projects, IT support is essential for project, portfolio and resource planning. Such a tool is used for different purposes by the different roles. A few examples:
A PPM tool helps project managers:
- plan and schedule their projects
- divide projects into tasks
- assign resources to tasks
With a PPM tool, portfolio managers:
- gain insight into the company’s overall utilization
- can judge which new projects they can take on
- identify potential for new developments
A PPM tool informs resource managers:
- which projects their resources are requested to work on,
- at what time
- and for how long
Use this article as a checklist. This will save you unnecessary extra rounds, which are tedious and time-consuming! You will be on the right track to implementing a “paradise” project management environment. We call this “The PPM Paradise”.
Another interesting read: Why Choose the Central Microsoft PPM over a Standalone Tool?
The PPM Paradise – The Prospect for the Future
The graphic below shows the visualization of an integrated solution for enterprise-wide multi-project management. Its implementation will bring you great benefits.
The PPM Paradise is the ideal environment for enterprise-wide program, portfolio and resource management – adapted to the requirements of the individual company – including processes, methods and tools. In a complex multi-project environment, it enables quick informed decisions. The PPM Paradise gives all roles involved peace of mind knowing that they always have full control over their project environment: PMO, decision-makers, team leaders, project managers, project team members and controllers.
Begin with a Central Project List
In any case, the first step – even before taking one of the three possible avenues to project management implementation – is this: create a central project list in a suitable database-supported PPM tool. With many projects, this is significantly better than an Excel list, which has to be updated manually on a regular basis. You will not succeed in multi-project management without a central overview of all projects. Find arguments for a PPM tool here.
In addition to the central project list, you will need the following as a minimal solution for each project:
- Project order
- Minimal scheduling
- Project status report with traffic lights to be updated regularly
Our tip: Make sure the central project list really contains all projects. There should not be anything in the company that is not on the list.
Once you have met the minimal requirements described above, you will be able to take one of the three avenues to further detail and improve your project management system – in accordance with the right focus: scheduling, resource management or portfolio management.
You will now get to know these three avenues.
Avenue 1: Project Management Implementation via Scheduling
The focus on scheduling means, you know the structure; you have a schedule overview; and you have a good vantage point for controlling projects. However, you will take longer to establish resource planning. For the latter requires scheduling to be completed.
This is the right avenue for you if:
- You want to control the content and schedule of individual projects
- You have to coordinate deliveries and services of external stakeholders rather than the individual deployment of your own resources.
- You are more likely to implement contract projects than company-internal development projects
- Your resources are relatively easy to obtain and do not constitute a significant bottleneck
What to Consider in Project Management Implementation via Scheduling
- Make sure you have an adequate project structure with phases and deliverables. This will allow you to keep track of projects – even large ones with many hundreds of tasks.
- Add task information such as places, companies involved, components etc. This will invest your schedule with meaning and allow you to filter and sort reports.
- Define reasonable milestones at handover and coordination points. These will give you a better control of project timing.
- Ensure the linking of tasks is complete. And use the automatic calculation of the string of deadlines offered by suitable PM tools.
- Save your baselines to be able to view changes between the last status and the initial order.
Special Download: Advantages of MS Project Server / Project Online over MS Project Standard
Please click here to download the PDF and learn why you should prefer the server over the client version.
Your Benefits from Project Management Implementation via Scheduling
- You have a clear overview at the timeline level.
- You know the status of each task and are able to recognize problems early. For instance, this can happen via a WBS chart with traffic light indicators.
- You are aware who has to deliver what to whom. And when.
- You recognize current delays in the timeline in good time. With a milestone trend analysis (free MTA for MS Project), you can identify further trends.
- You have a perfect basis for coordination meetings. Even with large schedules, you will find it easy to focus on the relevant areas by filtering the data.
Read this to learn more about the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).
Possible Steps after a PPM Implementation Beginning with Scheduling
- Adding costs to milestones and deliverables
- Putting the project team rather than the project manager in charge of recording the status of tasks
- Rough resource planning with skills on the basis of teams and external stakeholders
- Time tracking by the deployed resources themselves
- Introducing portfolio management
- Interfaces to ERP systems for automatic synchronization of delivery dates, material sourcing and billing information
If this avenue is not right for you, it may be the one below with a focus on resource management.
Interested in the advantages of interfaces to other systems?
Read our article about integrating PPM and JIRA.
Avenue 2: Project Management Implementation via Resource Management
When focusing on resource management, you should avoid one thing. Do not take the detour via detailed scheduling by the project managers. There is a quicker way to arrive at a functional resource overview. Let the team leaders plan all their team members’ activities and projects. Aim for rough but on the other hand entirely complete planning.
Struggling with resource planning? Our guide about resource planning in project management might help you out!
This is the right avenue if:
- The availability of your resources is decisive for your projects
- You are committed to optimizing the workload of your resources rather than to meeting deadlines
- Detailed scheduling is less important for you than arriving at complete resource planning
What to Consider in Project Management Implementation via Resource Management
- Record the resources of all teams with their capacities, ideally in a central resource pool.
- Reach agreement with your employee organization on the permissions to access resource data and the granularity of planning. All of this is usually a given when team leaders do their own planning.
- Win the team leaders over for your undertaking. Convince them of the benefits of increased transparency.
- Provide the team leaders with a resource management tool exactly matched to their needs. This should not be the project managers’ tool but must be able to collaborate with the latter.
- Team leaders plan absences and all their team members’ activities – both operations and project activities. For projects, it is sufficient to plan a general commitment while detailed planning remains the project manager’s task.
Your Benefits from Project Management Implementation via Resource Management
- You have a clear overview of resource utilization in the teams.
- You know each team member’s status and are able to identify overload and underload at an early stage.
- You know who is working when on what. And how much.
- You can identify the people quickly to whom you can delegate work.
- Project managers and team leaders have a perfect basis for coordination meetings.
- Team leaders are able to illustrate the workload of their teams for their superiors on a sound basis.
Special Download: Resource Planning Software for the Roles Involved (PDF file)
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Possible Steps after Project Management Implementation via Resource Planning
- Extending system use to other departments that need to plan resources though they are not usually involved in project management
- Setting up cross-department or enterprise-wide reporting on resource deployment
- Linking the resource system to the project system if the further focus is on schedule management
- Linking the resource system to the portfolio system if the further focus is on portfolio management
- Connecting to actual time tracking
- Interfaces to the ERP systems for automatic synchronization of cost centers, types of deliverables, vacation
If you find the avenue via resource management is not right for you either, the following approach focusing on project portfolio management probably will be.
Avenue 3: Project Management Implementation via Project Portfolio Management
When beginning with project portfolio management, your first task is to determine which projects should actually be started. Only then do you address how to optimize the execution.
You might also like this article: 7 steps to optimal project portfolio management
This is the right path if you want to achieve one thing first of all. This would be to match the desired requirements from the corporate strategy with the actual opportunities to deliver results.
What to Consider in Project Management Implementation via Project Portfolio Management:
- Develop a process for project initiation.
- Define criteria establishing which undertaking is to be treated as a project.
- Define strategic drivers for prioritizing the projects in the portfolio.
- Create a complete overview of running projects to compare them and decide on the new projects.
- Check their feasibility by comparing the effort and cost planning with the available capacities and budgets.
- Complete and rough planning is better than incomplete and too detailed.
Your Benefits from Project Management Implementation via with Project Portfolio Management
- You make sure you work on the right projects rather than implementing unimportant ones.
- A complete overview of all planned and running projects keeps you up to date on the portfolio.
- You know what further new projects you can start and actually carry out.
- You identify budget and resource bottlenecks in good time. This allows you to react to them according to corporate strategy.
Possible Steps after from Project Management Implementation via Project Portfolio Management
- Extending scheduling
- Extending resource management
- Interfaces to the ERP systems for automatic synchronization of budget information
Before You Start Your Project Management Implementation
Regardless of the solution process you choose there are three things you should take into account. They will help to ensure the success of your PPM solution.
- Begin in simple steps. Your PPM system can be extended as required at a later stage. The steps you take should be straightforward. This will ensure acceptance and feasibility at all times. It will make your PPM implementation and introduction less likely to fail. Frequent reasons for failure are failed expectations, inadequate methods, and/or unused tools.
Take small steps in your project management implementation. You will still be able to expand it at a later stage – once it has been accepted by the users. Be true to the motto: “Better to start small than fail big!”
- Keep in mind the needs of all stakeholders who will have to work with the system later on. This is the only way to ensure acceptance. That way, your PPM system will support you even better in achieving corporate objectives.
- Ensure a shared understanding of the benefits of the project management environment. Do not expect too many benefits thanks to the new PPM system in too short a time. Good change management can help you along in the process of project management implementation and acceptance.
- Set up a strong PMO. In its position as a responsible central organizational unit, the PMO will help you. It will see to a goal-driven introduction of this complex of challenging tasks, cyclical processes, and support tools. It will also ensure it is kept alive.
Conclusion – 3 Avenues to Project, Portfolio and Resource Management
This article has introduced you to 3 ways to begin project management implementation. At all events, you should begin with a central project list, minimal scheduling and simple project status reports to be regularly updated. Depending on your top priority, you can choose from the following approaches – Project management implementation via:
You have learned what to consider with each solution process and what benefit the respective approach will bring. Furthermore, you have found out how to go about extending the solution at a later stage.
No matter what avenue you choose for your company, make sure of three things:
- Begin with simple, straightforward steps.
- Take the needs of all stakeholders into account.
- Task a strong PMO with the realization.
What have been your experiences with the introduction of a PPM solution so far? Do let us know! We look forward to reading about your thoughts in the comment area below.
About the author: Johann Strasser, a certified engineer, has been a managing partner at TPG The Project Group since 2001. After many years as a development engineer in the automotive and energy sectors, Johann Strasser spent a decade as an independent trainer and consultant in the field of project management. During his tenure, he also served as project manager for software projects in the construction industry and provided scheduling and cost management support for large-scale construction projects. At TPG, he applies his expertise in product development and consulting services for international clients. His special focus is on PMO, project portfolios, hybrid project management, and resource management. For many years now, he has shared his knowledge through presentations, seminars, articles, and webinars.