Steve O’Connor, Ffounder and SVP of ITM Software, is a seasoned IT executive and the visionary behind the ITM Software solution.
BM. Project portfolio management vendors promise to help customers juggle competing investment priorities, reduce IT failures and improve alignment between technology and their business. How does PPM help companies achieve these key business benefits?
SOC. While projects may comprise only 20-30 percent of a typical IT organizations spend, they present a disproportionately larger level of conversation between the CIO and his/her business peers. Once the conversation is started, the CIO has a golden opportunity to broaden the discussion into the trade off between their unit’s needs and the organization’s. It’s this business-to-IT dialogue – which is supported by PPM software – that creates alignment.
PPM software houses and analyzes the information needed for fact-based decisions about which business projects to do, why and when. This data allows CIOs to eliminate any perceived ‘emotion’ when discussing priorities, decisions, costs and expected business value. It also gives the business stakeholders transparency into the process, letting them participate in the decision-making.
It is also important to understand that projects are typically done in order to deliver a service, and multiple projects may have to be executed in order to create a single business service. If PPM vendors do not have a service orientation as a design principle, then the PPM tool is bound to fail to deliver what’s needed.
BM. PPM is not necessarily right for every company. What is required to successfully implement PPM and achieve the desired outcomes?
SOC. Organizations with 100 or more staff members truly need PPM because of the number and complexity of projects. The sheer number of projects also forces a company into taking a portfolio approach, grouping projects into logical portfolios so they can be evaluated against objective criteria. Creating portfolios across multiple horizons – for example, across business unit, product line, geographic line, timing, etc. – simply cannot be effectively accomplished using spreadsheets. PPM allows the organization to quickly and rationally balance the portfolio of projects across any number of parameters, over time.
BM. Can you give us an example of how you have helped a customer improve operations through the implementation of one of your solutions? What were the challenges, and how were they addressed?
SOC. One customer reported that its executive team is now able to review, prioritize and select projects from a current inventory of more than several hundred projects (and a proposed list of several hundred more new projects) in a matter of a few hours. Prior to implementing our PPM, the company accomplished the same work through monthly day-long meetingsMoreover, the IT team was not able to take a portfolio approach prior to using PPM, so it was unable to balance risks and trade-offs. With PPM, the company now has a methodology and basis for objective scoring and tracking of business value, providing a means to measure the impact of IT. Finally, since IT impact is all about making the right decisions, ITM’s PPM solution gave this company the ability to run what-if scenarios to evaluate the financial and resource impact of cancelling, moving out or accelerating projects. This dramatically improved the executive team’s ability to make decisions with confidence.
BM. What are your thoughts on the direction in which the PPM market is heading? What will be the major developments driving the adoption of PPM solutions over the next 12-18 months?
SOC. The PPM market has been hindered by attempts to isolate projects from the other business management needs of IT. We see the market moving toward a holistic IT business management solution that does not suffer from the limited scope of conventional PPM. Our partnership with BMC has provided us many of the elements that the market wants in an IT business management solution. Companies want a single system to manage their projects, vendors, finances, services, compliance – and any future other business management needs.
Today, many organizations are replacing their first generation PPM-only software with comprehensive IT business management solutions that have a service orientation There is also a shift to focusing on portfolio-level decisions rather than project-level detail. We think this is the right way to go since the critical unmet needs are at the decision, prioritization and visibility levels rather than down in the project plan.
Obstacles to PPM