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Are You Ready for a PPM or EPM Tool?
By Kiron D. Bondale

So you want to buy a PPM or EPM (Enterprise Project Management) tool? Congratulations – vendors will be filling up your e-mail Inbox with ROI calculators, dazzling dashboard screenshots and glowing client case studies to convince you that their solution is the only reasonable choice!

But before you finalize the business case to secure funding, let’s run through a simple list of questions. If you can’t conclusively answer “yes” to all of them and have the data to back up this confidence, it might be advisable to wait until you do.

  • Are your PM practices institutionalized (and how do you know)? If you don’t have some sort of documented methodology, and don’t have the evidence reflecting compliance with those practices, why do you think introducing a tool is going to make any difference?
  • Do you have sustainable executive sponsorship and resource management commitment (and how do you know)? If you have been trying to sell these two stakeholder groups on the benefits of introducing a tool, how do you know they have sufficiently bought in? Everyone wants to have pretty portfolio health dashboards and detailed views into staff capacity and allocation, but a lot of effort on the part of mid- and senior managers is required to ensure that accurate and complete data is being entered by project teams.

  • Who is going to support the tool past the initial roll out (and will you have sufficient funding for these resources)? Regardless of whether a PPM or EPM solution is installed on-site or subscribed to over the Internet, you still need to have internal staffing to provide application support to your end users, to identify and address coaching or compliance issues, and to receive feedback from end users and incorporate that feedback into ongoing improvements to your procedures & the configuration of the tool. Beyond this, depending on your organization’s needs and the capabilities of your selected tool you may require software development assistance for creating interfaces with your other business systems and report writers to create custom reports from the tool’s centralized repository. Will the costs of providing this support be absorbed by the tangible benefits achieved by implementing a tool? If not, how will you justify ongoing funding for it?

  • How are you going to “sell it” to the primary end users? Vendors tend to target executives when selling PPM and EPM tools as dashboards and reports make for great eye candy, but to populate those dashboards and reports the burden of effort falls on project managers & team members as they are expected to enter and maintain project data. Will you be reducing or at least not increasing the administrative work load for these folks?

Don’t get me wrong – PPM and EPM tools can provide significant benefits, but without checking that the prerequisites for successful realization of these benefits are in place you might find that all you’ve done is acquired a costly Rube Goldberg project administration machine.

Kiron D. Bondale, PMP, PMI-RMP has managed multiple mid-to-large-sized technology and change management projects, and has worked in both internal and professional services project management capacities. He has setup and managed Project Management Offices (PMO) and has provided project portfolio management and project management consulting services to clients across multiple industries.

Kiron is an active member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and served as a volunteer director on the Board of the PMI Lakeshore Chapter for six years.

Kiron has published articles on Project and Project Portfolio Management in both project management-specific journals (PM Network, PMI-ISSIG journal, Projects & Profits) as well as industry-specific journals (ILTA Peer-to-peer). He has delivered almost a hundred webinar presentations on a variety of PPM and PM topics and has presented at multiple industry conferences including HIMSS, MISA and ProjectWorld. In addition to this blog, Kiron contributes articles on a monthly basis to ProjectTimes.com.

Kiron is a firm believer that a pragmatic approach to organization change that addresses process & technology, but most important, people will maximize your chances for success. You can reach Kiron at kiron_bondale@yahoo.ca

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