How to Introduce a PPM Solution: 3 Avenues to Project, Portfolio and Resource Management

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+++ Which Approach Will Win You Fast Success with a New PPM Solution +++ What to Consider in Any Case +++

By Johann Strasser                                                                                                          Read article in German

Are you planning to introduce an IT system for project, portfolio and resource management (PPM)? If so, you should absolutely read this article.

You begin your task by selecting the appropriate processes and methods. The step-by-step extension to the full PPM system only follows after.

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Which avenue you choose for establishing your PPM solution should depend on your top priority. Do you want to focus on scheduling, resource planning or portfolio management?

In this article, you will gain an overview and learn:

  • What focus is best for which case
  • What you should consider
  • What are the benefits of this approach
  • What could be your next steps in extending your PPM system

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!

But let us get to the three different avenues.

Another interesting read: Why Choose the Central Microsoft PPM over a Standalone Tool?

Avenue 1: Begin with the Focus on 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 if:

  • You want to control the content and schedule of individual projects
  • You have to coordinate deliveries and achievements 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
  • etc.
Introduce a PPM solution 1

Figure 1: Milestone definition for controlling the performance level

What to Consider When Beginning with 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.

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Your Benefits When Beginning with 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. You can identify further trends with a milestone trend analysis (free MTA for MS Project).
  • 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.
  • etc.

News about the latest features of the PPM solution Microsoft Project: Read now.

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
  • etc.

Interested in the advantages of interfaces to other systems?
Read our article about integrating PPM and JIRA.

Avenue 2: Begin with the Focus on Resource Planning

When focusing on resource planning, 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? Read about resource planning in project management.

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 When Beginning with Resource Planning

  • 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 suitable tool for their resource management. This does not necessarily have to be the project managers’ system. But it should 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.
Introduce a PPM solution 2

Figure 2: An overview of availability of team members, project assignment and project availability (TPG TeamManager App for SharePoint)

Your Benefit When Beginning with Resource Planning

  • 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.

Possible Steps after Beginning with 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
  • Linking to actual time tracking
  • Interfaces to the ERP systems for automatic synchronization of cost centers, types of deliverables, vacation
  • etc.

Avenue 3: Begin with the Focus on Portfolio Management

When beginning with 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 bring together the desired requirements from the corporate strategy and the actual opportunities to deliver results.

What to Consider When Beginning with 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.

Finding it hard to convince decision-makers to introduce a PPM solution? Read this article.

Introduce a PPM solution 3

Figure 3: Portfolio management ensures that the projects with the highest priority get the necessary resources

Your Benefit When Beginning with 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. You are able to react to them according to corporate strategy.
  • etc.

Possible Steps after a PPM Implementation Beginning with Portfolio Management

  • Extending scheduling
  • Extending resource management
  • Interfaces to the ERP systems for automatic synchronization of budget information

Before Getting Started: Take into Account the Following

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 when you introduce a PPM solution. You will still be able to extend it at a later stage – once it has been accepted by the users.

  • 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.
  • 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 introduce a PPM solution. Depending on your top priority, you can choose from the following approaches – Beginning with:

  • Schedule management
  • Resource management
  • Portfolio management

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 introducing a project and portfolio planning tool in project management, make sure of three things:

  1. Begin with simple, straightforward steps.
  2. Take the needs of all stakeholders into account.
  3. 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.

Final tip: Subscribe to the TPG Blog Newsletter now and never miss another blog post.

 

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