To improve productivity and profitability, IT organizations must link strategy and operational systems together more effectively to deliver better business intelligence , says Azita Gandjei.
IT executives base their reputation and success on their decision making-prowess. With so much at stake, however, it’s not always easy to ignore nagging doubts when considering a go/no-go decision on a project or program because data, dashboards and other analytical elements are rarely as enlightening as they purport to be.
Strategic and operational systems often fail to share information, which can result in missing or poorly aggregated data. And even the operations systems themselves may be incomplete, because the cumbersome nature of data entry discourages some employees from entering information. It’s no wonder the leadership team is sometimes skeptical of the accuracy of the analyses they receive.
Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solutions can already capture and aggregate historical, current and pipeline information about people and projects.
IT organizations, however, don’t always realize the full extent of PPM’s power, and often view it as a standalone solution. With the widespread adoption of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), though, it’s becoming easier to integrate PPM applications more closely with other enterprise systems. In this manner, PPM becomes the central hub for enterprise data, thereby exponentially increasing the quality of information available for decision support.
Three Keys to Making it Work
To unleash the power of PPM and improve enterprise decision making, three things are necessary:
1. Consider people first, then processes. Today, many knowledge workers resist using workflow-based tools that, in theory, enforce key processes, most notably the gathering of resource and project information. This resistance stems from the incorrect belief that such tools hinder the individualized processes knowledge workers develop while producing uniquely crafted solutions to business problems. As a result, essential information and new ideas too often stay locked in the minds of an organization’s most valuable people.
PPM solutions’ easy-to-use, customizable interfaces can be used to create and update role-based profiles so that people can go beyond recording standard certifications and availability. Today, they can track projects, preferences for certain types of assignments, their communication preferences, the teams they’ve worked on, their location, travel history and even outside interests.
Armed with this information, managers can create ideal teams for every project and, before making the go/no-go decision, executives will better understand whether they have the right people and processes in place at the right time for a successful initiative. Those teams can collaboratively develop processes tailored specifically to their particular engagements and to the idiosyncrasies and preferences of individual team members. In turn, they are more likely to bring new ideas to the table and be more effective in implementing them.
2. Periodically rationalize your portfolio . Although the proliferation of enterprise applications over the last decade has produced many benefits, the sheer volume of these applications has also created shelfware. PPM can deliver a clear picture of the business value of each application, objectively identify the best alternatives and help create a solid action plan for streamlining the portfolio. PPM can also capture all relevant data on an ongoing basis and create an up-to-date inventory of the portfolio that the leadership team can continuously synchronize with the strategic objectives of the organization.
3. Continuously adapt to change . Finally, like all other vital enterprise tools, PPM is always adapting to changing business needs. IT executives should keep abreast of emerging PPM capabilities that can further enhance enterprise decision making.
In short, many companies already have at their disposal a solution well suited to the individuality of its workers and one that is well-positioned to leverage the full potential of corporate data to improve strategic decisions. In embracing and fully exploiting this application, enterprises will discover a crucial link missing from today’s enterprise decision making – a link that will help improve overall corporate performance.
Azita Gandjei is responsible for the global strategy and execution of Primavera solutions the IT and Services markets. Prior to joining Primavera Systems, Azita co-founded StrongBridge Group, a product and services company that provided software solutions to high-tech and professional services organizations.