Why you might not be ready to implement PPM software

Project portfolio management (PPM) software is a strategic investment that helps organisations complete projects on time, within budget by enabling the people and process involved and helping in creating visibility of portfolio performance. While PPM tools drive efficiencies and generates higher project delivery success rates, it’s a significant undertaking that requires a thoughtful assessment of the readiness of your organisation.

If you consider the financial investment, the man hours spent on designing the solution, data take-on, training end users and other PPM software implementation tasks, it can be a costly undertaking for any organisation investing in PPM software. So, it’s important to get it right! Before you get caught up in implementing PPM software, the priority must be to set yourself up for success by questioning the organisation’s readiness. The last thing any project management office (PMO) wants, is to start the journey in an unsupportive environment and dealing with a failed implementation.

How ready are you?

Many organisations fail to consider the complexities of their environment. Let’s unpack the 5 most common organisational barriers to a successful implementation:

  • Sponsorship & Budget
  • Resource Commitment
  • Business Benefits
  • Change Readiness
  • PPM Software Evaluation
Sponsorship & Budget

As the “activist/advocate” for the implementation of PPM software in your organisation, you will need to get executive sponsorship. Because the executive sponsor will champion the PPM software implementation, a member of senior management with a good level of influence and authority is best suited for the role.

The commitment of top management and their understanding of the purpose and value add of the implementation is paramount. The c-suite needs to understand the benefits and how it personally affects them. Clear business benefits are therefore of the utmost importance. I’ll talk to these in more detail further on.

Without executive sponsorship, it will be difficult to get support for the financial investment. We recommend that you get sponsorship early in the process and make sure that the executive is part of the process to ensure you are addressing the needs of your organisation.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) PPM software provides advantages over on-premises solutions. With most SaaS tools, you can lower the risk of implementation by assessing key functionality & features, before purchase, via a free trial.

Also consider the cost for implementing the software. There will be the monthly/annual subscription fee for the use of the software but implementation costs like configuration, training, etc. should also be considered. By building a business case you can secure funds for the implementation of PPM software. Without this approved funding you might be dead in the water.

If you’re considering implementing PPM Software, you are obviously in the business of executing projects. Might sound obvious, but it’s important that the PPM software implementation is run as a project with a clear implementation approach. Don’t assume that this is “business as usual”, it’s a significant change for any organisation.

Resource Commitment

Resources are the major contributor to successful project delivery and their involvement in a PPM software implementation is often underestimated. Be sure to find all the role players upfront and consider the effort needed from each of the resources for the duration of the PPM software implementation. A typical PPM software implementation will involve requirements and planning sessions, user training, Q&A sessions and most importantly data take-on while still actively executing projects.

Based on our experience, the effort needed from impacted resources ranges between 2 and 16 hours per week, for the duration of the project, depending on the resource role.

Does your organisation have the capacity to adopt the change?

Business Benefits

The one factor that impacts and separates the successful PPM software implementations from others, is the ability to prove its value to the business stakeholders.

These stakeholders are anyone who has a vested interest in the PPM software. It includes executives, line-of-business managers, project managers and project team members. A well-defined business case which includes clear business benefits that are measurable and have set targets is of utmost importance.

Your business case should include the following sections:

  • Business objectives for your organisation and how it translates to the PMO objectives.
  • Challenges preventing the PMO from achieving its goal and why PPM software is necessary.
  • Tangible and Intangible Benefits.
  • Cost Savings.
  • Implementation Costs.

You can find a free guide to building an effective business case for PPM software here: Free Business Case Template for PPM Software.

Once your business case is complete, it’s necessary to ensure the correct approvals, at the right level in the organisation, are obtained before any effort is spent on the project.

Change Readiness

This is your organisation’s preparedness and willingness to accept and adapt to changes introduced by the implementation of new systems or processes. Don’t assume this is going to be “business as usual.” It’s not. The importance of people-change during this process cannot be underestimated. A change readiness assessment is a strategic step that allows the PMO to anticipate and address challenges before the implementation.

An implementation approach that is structured around user adoption, which can realise immediate benefit, as well as easy to use functionality should be the initial focus. While a “Big Bang” approach may seem efficient, it comes with potential downsides and risks. If issues arise during the big bang rollout, they can affect the entire organisation simultaneously, potentially leading to significant disruptions in day-to-day project operations. It also involves a steep learning curve for users who need to quickly adapt to the new software.

It is therefore recommended that your PMO and implementation partner plans an implementation approach that allows for gradual adjustments, user feedback, and targeted interventions to address challenges as they arise.

See how PPO has adopted its implementation approach over the past few years to move away from the “Big Bang” to a more iterative approach: How Project Portfolio Office adapts approach to implement PPM software successfully.

Company culture and internal politics will be one of the main barriers to adoption. Resistance to PPM software is to be expected and will not be understood by all involved. Continued education about the benefits and value of PPM software will be needed.

Organisational project management maturity will play a key role and more mature organisations will be more ready to adopt PPM software. PPO offers a PPM maturity assessment that can help you to assess and benchmark your organisation’s current project management capability against a set of leading practices. This will help you to gain insight into key stakeholder’s needs and expectations, identify strengths and weaknesses and develop a practical, time-framed improvement roadmap that will deliver the greatest value to your organisation. You can download the fact sheet here: PPO PPM Maturity Assessment.

Ensure that change management activities are included in your implementation plan and identify the best change champions.

PPM Software Evaluation

Tool evaluation is a crucial step in the process and allows your PMO to thoroughly assess various aspects of the PPM software to make an informed decision.  Here are a few reasons why evaluating PPM software is important:

  • Fit-for-Purpose: Every organisation has unique requirements and objectives. Evaluating PPM software helps determine whether the features and capabilities of the software align with the specific needs and goals of your organisation.
  • Scalability: As the organisation matures, the demands on project and portfolio management may increase. Evaluating the scalability of the PPM software ensures that it can accommodate the current maturity but can also handle increased maturity.
  • Easy-to-Use and Intuitive: PPM software is meant to enable project and portfolio management processes. Evaluating the user interface, ease of use, and intuitiveness of the software is essential to ensure that it can be adopted seamlessly by the users within the organisation.
  • Integration Capabilities: PPM software often needs to integrate with other existing tools and systems used by the organisation, such as document management systems, or ERP software to bring all portfolio and project-related data together in one place.
  • Reporting and Analytics: PPM software often includes reporting and analytics features to track key performance indicators (KPIs) and assess project progress. Evaluating the reporting capabilities helps ensure that the software provides the necessary insights for informed decision-making.
  • Vendor Reputation and Implementation Approach: Assessing the reputation and track record of the PPM software vendor is crucial. Look for customer reviews, testimonials, and case studies to gauge the experiences of other organisations that have implemented the software.
  • Ongoing Support and Training: A thorough evaluation should include an assessment of the vendor’s support and training offerings. Adequate support and training are critical for a successful implementation and long-term use of the PPM software.

You can evaluate PPO by starting a free 30-day free trial here: PPO Free 30 Day Trial

If you want to assess your PMO’s readiness to implement PPM software adopt the inevitable new systems and processes, then download our free readiness scoring sheet.

Author: Tarryn-Leigh Frans

Tarryn-Leigh is the Marketing Manager at PPO. She is enthusiastic about business improvement and is keen to share information and influence change. In her free time, she loves traveling, reading, and spending time with her husband and dogs.

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