A Deeper Understanding Of PMI’s New Agile Hybrid Project Pro Micro-Credential

In what may be a nod to the reality that there may be no pure “waterfall” or “agile” in the world, PMI recently released a new “micro-credential” for Agile Hybrid Project Pro. It looked intriguing, so I dedicated an afternoon to going through the course and exam to see what it was about and if it is worth the investment.

PMI’s Changing Training Strategy

For those not familiar, PMI has totally changed up its certification game, doing away with its previous Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) program last year and replacing it with its Authorized Training Provider (A.T.P.) program. There are a number of differences, but the key one is that the new program pulls back ownership of PMP prep material to PMI, rather than leaving it to the providers to develop.

When I spoke with PMI about the program change, they shared that they received feedback from the community that some of the PMP prep content wasn’t doing a good job of preparing PMP applicants. I can see their point – I’ve reviewed content developed by multiple providers, and I’ve been through countless banks of test questions and they are not consistent. So, PMI decided that all PMP prep courses should be delivered using content they (PMI) developed. This plan is good for consistency – and also good for PMI’s top-line revenue.


In line with developing and marketing more of its own training content, PMI is launching a new line of micro-credentials with an aim to “certify achievements in specific skills, knowledge, and competencies by focusing on unique subjects and relatively new topics.” These credentials are not as monumental an undertaking as PMP or PMI-ACP, but still come with the legitimacy of a PMI provided credential. In addition to the Agile Hybrid Project Pro, it looks like there is also an Organizational Transformation Foundation micro-credential, and I expect we can look forward to more. These are a great idea in the respect that they fit the more modern learner’s need for self-paced training for specific subject matter on demand.

With this micro-credential going for $175, the new Organizational Transformation Foundation micro-credential going for $350 and more on the way, I could see PMI’s income from micro credentials rivaling what they take in from their marquee credentials.

Agile Hybrid Project Pro

Per PMI, this credential is “ideal for traditional project managers who are beginning to venture into the Agile or Hybrid space… [this credential] verifies your skillset and increases your value to employers.” So, of course I couldn’t resist.

And of course… 13 PDU’s!

Figure 1 – PDU breakout for Hybrid Agile Project Pro


The credential is still in Beta. PMI says this means the certification is discounted from the $175 list price, and that they require you complete a couple surveys throughout the process so they can collect feedback. I completed the surveys, but didn’t seem to get the discount – perhaps I missed a step.

The content outline is provided here. Like the PMI-ACP (and unlike the PMP), reference material for the certification is not limited to PMI content, extending to other content in the market. Even without reviewing all this content, if you have some hybrid delivery experience and go through the online course, you should fare well on the exam.


Perhaps because it’s still in beta, the signup process isn’t seamless at the moment, but it is pretty straightforward from the credential page. Once you sign up, you get an email that you have to hang on to, because it’s the one with the working links to the course. For me, I received another email after all the setup was complete for my e-learning page that didn’t show the course.

Hybrid Project Pro Micro-Credential

Figure 2 – Don’t lose this email if you are taking this in BETA!

The Course

Having spent years delivering PMP prep training, this course was a refreshing change. The online self-paced course has 20 modules, each of which is presented through a relatable, real-world use case. These modules follow the same format as the content outline. Each lesson links back to Tools & Techniques from the PMBOK or PMI’s Agile Practice guide, and also provides links back to PMI’s extremely deep Resource library. I’ve never explored PMI’s Resource Library before, but was surprised at the depth and breadth of the content there. When I should have been focusing on my Hybrid Agile course, I found I kept following resource links and going down

the rabbit hole in the library. My advice there is to save-off the interesting links for exploration after you finish the course, so you don’t get distracted.

Each module has a short quiz to reinforce the topic. The quizzes worked well except there was a type of question – sort of a “category matcher” for some topics where you drag and drop statements (up to 9) to the correct category. You either get it all right or all wrong, and the hints at where you might have gotten them wrong were a bit cryptic, which was frustrating. There were a couple of these questions that I finally just gave up and moved on.

The Content

This being an Agile Hybrid course, I went in expecting there to be more content around the nuts and bolts of making hybrid projects work answering the questions:

  • How do you manage dependencies when you have multiple Agile teams delivering various parts of a solution?
  • How do you coordinate schedules across different Agile teams that may have different methodologies and different sprint cycles or durations?
  • How does a PM work with a Product Owner to integrate project-specific deliverables into an overall product backlog?

But, the course did not go to that level of technical detail.

The course focuses more on the people side of working with Agile (managing conflict, leading a team, engaging virtual teams). The parts which did touch on technical processes (plan and manage schedule, plan and manage scope) were pretty high level – perhaps in an effort to keep the course methodology agnostic.

Overall, I’d say this course would be most useful to an established PM who needs to adopt an “agile” mindset to help deliver hybrid projects and needs to understand how that world works.

The Exam

Once you complete the course, you take the exam through Pearson Vue. It’s a non-proctored, timed, remote exam with 60 multiple-choice questions. The exam felt a bit like a PMP, in that the multiple-choice questions were often situational, and you had to have a good feel for how PMI wanted you to think to pick the right answer. While taking the exam, I wasn’t sure that the course had prepared me to pass the exam, but I seemed to pass on the first go, so there you have it.

Hybrid Project Pro Micro-Credential Diploma

Was it worth it?

It’s the only “Hybrid Agile” credential that I’m aware of, right now. I think it’s cool and I look forward to putting the badge on my LinkedIn profile. The new micro-credential format may be a response to other training competitors like LinkedIn Learning and Google’s new certs. It’s good to see PMI jump in the fray and start putting out accessible content. Plus, it’s a PMI credential that an experienced PM can knock out in an afternoon, so it’s nowhere near the commitment of a PMI marquee credential.

I felt that the scenario-based lessons in the online course were the best part of the process – they made the content relatable and helped reinforce some agile principles and approaches for me. I hope this module is an indicator of how the PMI will deliver training going forward.

Is this credential a way for you to learn how to execute Hybrid Agile projects? Not really. It’s a good start for getting in the right mindset, but don’t look for it to give you the technical ins and outs of how to get your projects done in a hybrid world. Is it worth $175? It might be, if you need to prove that you understand Agile Hybrid on your LinkedIn profile. If you’re already there and have the ‘street-cred’ of having worked on Hybrid projects, it may not be super useful. That said, if you do work in a Hybrid world and need to take a course to keep up your PMP, it wasn’t the worst way to get 13 PDUs.

Check out our other insights and articles here.

At Kolme Group we care and want to help you get the best out of your PPM Tool. Join Kim Essendrup, Kolme Co-founder, for a Free, 15-minute consultancy to discuss your PPM Tool needs and best steps forward

Tailoring Your Stakeholder Justification Messages When Investing In A Project Portfolio Management System

Tailor Stakeholder Justification Messages

We’ve had a great review of the strategic benefits, and hard and soft cost saving that you need to consider for your justification and/or business case in our recent post, Justifying A PPM Investment.  But, how do we ensure that you are talking about the right benefits to the right stakeholders? Keep reading to learn how tailoring your stakeholder justification messages when investing in a project portfolio management system. 

Let’s get started and begin by defining our stakeholders – Who are they? We’re going to categorize common stakeholders into 3 groups:  Finance, HR/Resource Management and Executives. 

We can’t stress enough how important it is for you to tailor your message!  Messages that don’t resonate with a particular stakeholder group will be just noise and potentially defocus the message. 

We like to call this the ‘Rabbit Hole of Details,’ and it can really throw you off track, especially with busy executives who might not be up to speed on the process. Wrong, questionable, or too much data distracts from the high-level conversation you planned to have. So start broad, and then zero-in on specifics. And we always recommend that you keep a few “just in case” slides in your back pocket.


One of our favorite conversations is talking to the Finance team. If you can provide direct benefit to the finance team, if you can make their lives easier and give them more accurate financials, or if you’re able to put their financials in your projects more accurately, faster, and with less administrative overhead, the finance team has a lot of sway in funding your projects 

We suggest tailoring your messages by adding:

  • Improved project budget management, especially for forecasting

    Anything where you can demonstrate the ability to have improved project budget management. Especially for forecasting. Now, if you’re in Professional Services, this is number one. This, in itself, will sell your PPM investment, if you can demonstrate that your forecasting is going to be more timely, and more responsive, and most importantly, more accurate. 

  • Data Accuracy and Transparency

    Of course, data accuracy and transparency are very important, being able to provide direct access into the PPM so they can see what the forecasts are, and also to keep the PMs in the loop in real-time. And, or course, more accurate data is vital, which brings us back around to… 

  • Automation and Simplification Stance

    Automation and simplification stance. Flipping that back around to the project managers, they’re going to be able to forecast and manage their projects better if they can get direct access into financials. So if we can automate bringing in financial data, your actual resource costs, your actual invoices for each item you’re spending money on, even timesheets or travel expenses, if you can get those into your PPM, it gives your project managers the power to make accurate forecasts, and helps you avoid a lot of firefighting. And this brings us back to our Single Source of Truth – the more you can automate, the more work you can do in a single system, the more accurate your data will be, and the easier it is on everyone. These are the kinds of benefits from a tool that really can help sell it! 

Bottom line: If you can give Finance assurance that they’re going to get better financial data, more accurate forecasts, and more timely information, this puts you in a good position to justify the expenditure. Heck, they may just buy it for you. 

HR & Resource Management

Next up is tailoring your messaging to your HR/Resource Management stakeholders.

From an HR/RM perspective, we want to think about Resource alignment. It’s really important to know what your resources are working on, what they’re doing: are they working on something important to your business i.e. your strategic initiatives? Are they improving quality, or reducing cost? We want our resources working on the projects that will provide the maximum value to the company, both short term and long term. 

The reason we need to prioritize these projects is because resources only have so many hours. In our 2018 whitepaper, we saw that reliable and accurate project data correlates with 62% improvement in resource utilization and project success. How many hours should resources be spending on new work vs. businessasusual? What percentage do we want going towards various initiatives? Resource Managers need to know when they are overor under-utilized, and they need to know before it hits crisis mode, and before company or customer expectations are set. 

Of course, when we say ‘resources’, we actually mean ‘people’. And when working with people, team satisfaction is key.

Using multiple tools, double- or even triple-reporting data, and spending hours each week manually creating slide reports –  it is  mindnumbing. It’s not fun to do on a Friday night before you can go home. Having all your data in a single source makes everyone’s job easier. Clarizen, for example, has Slide Publisher and Document Publisher, which allows you to create status reports with the click of a button. That leaves more time to do more valuable work, to do professional development, … and lets you can clock out on time on Fridays. 

That leads, again, into Automation and Simplification. A good PPM tool will have workflows, and scheduled workflows. Maybe the system will automatically send my status report out every week. Maybe I can log in and see at a glance which of my direct reports haven’t done their timesheets this week, and, with the click of a button, send them an email so they can update their time right from their inbox. Which ties back into team satisfaction, data accuracy and transparency, etc. 

Bottom line: Human Resources/Resource Management wants to know what people are working on and that they have the proper balance of capacity to support initiatives that are important to the business. 


What about headcount justification?

If you’re looking at your portfolio and you’ve got strategic initiatives coming down, and you’re at capacity, but these things are really important. Does that give me justification to add headcount? Or should I be reallocating people from, say, business-as-usual work, to more innovative projects. Your PPM will help you collect and evaluate that data, and then use it to justify those kinds of changes.

We’ve seen this used as a powerful tool to help build coalition with other managers. If you can get the light to go on, that, “This is a tool that can help you justify headcount.” Instead of saying, “We’re really busy, we need more people,” you can say, “For the new initiatives you’re asking for, I’ll need a 10% increase in staff to meet those requirements.

The justification’s really easy to see in nice-looking graphs on a portfolio planning screen with hard data backing it up, vs just saying ‘Believe me.’

Executive Stakeholders

A group that especially needs a precise, tailored business case are your Executive stakeholders. We talked about a lot of these benefits early on, because pretty much everything we’ve talked about touches the C-Suite in some way. And that’s a lot of information for very busy people. When you talk to them, you have the opportunity to assurthem that what you’re doing is aligned to their executive strategyHave that conversation. How are they measuring that alignment, and how can we ensure we’re meeting that, as a department and as a company. And that’s what this tool can do, and that will be the story that you can teach them. Help them understand that you have a common goal. 

And that’s the other thing. Your organization now isn’t the same organization it’s going to be a month from now, a quarter from now, a year from now. You’re always going to changing. Just look at that’s happened this year, you can’t foresee that. And we’re seeing a lot of businesses panicking, and just reacting because, well, ‘we have to do something.’ You have to be able to change, and to change smartYour tool might need to change, to start incorporating new data or new business processes. 

Justify your tool as giving you the data you need to justify a sound business decision, very quickly, and on the fly. 

  • Project alignment with Strategy 
  • Organizational Agility 
  • Automation and Simplification: 
  • Elimination of other systems ($$$$’s) 
  • Time to Market 
  • Delivery Quality / Project Success 
  • Lessons Learned 
  • Team / Customer / Stakeholder Satisfaction 
  • Data quality and timeliness 

At Kolme Group we care and want to help you get the best out of your PPM Tool. Join Kim Essendrup, Kolme Co-founder, for a Free, 15-minute consultancy to discuss your PPM Tool needs and best steps forward


How Much Does A PPM Tool Cost?

How Much Does A PPM Tool Cost?

If you are a Project Management Leader, you have probably got a mess to clean up. Maybe things keep going off track, maybe you have no easy way to measure what’s going on, or maybe you are just tired of struggling through portfolio reports at midnight when you yell, “There has to be a better way!” The good news is, there is a wide variety of Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) solutions that can help you more effectively manage your project delivery. Better yet, these PPM solutions have become very accessible, are easy to use, and powerful. But of course, as soon as we start considering tools, the first question that comes up is: What is this PPM tool going to cost me?

Your ultimate bill for a PPM can be surprisingly low – or surprisingly high. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get a clear bottom-line answer for the total cost of a solution – and even then, the costs you are probably thinking of are only part of the picture.

So, how much will a PPM cost me?

At Kolme Group, our team has built, run and helped to improve project management organizations around the world. In doing so, we have facilitated the selection and implementation of various PPM tools, we are well acquainted with the process of getting to the costs involved.

Like you, we have faced the challenge of trying to understand the true costs of implementing a PPM solution. That is why in this article, we are giving a straight and simple answer as best we can on this complex topic.

Keep in mind, there are many components that will impact your costs. So, we will walk you through the most impactful factors and a few examples. We will also share tips for managing your implementation costs and getting the most value from your PPM investment.

Please Note! These examples are by necessity general in nature, and will likely differ from your unique use case.

Furthermore, the cost estimates we will share in this article are very conservative – you will likely find that you can negotiate better pricing.

The simple (and incomplete) answer

PPM software and basic onboarding costs are a starting point but not the entire picture. Below, we’ve chosen two starting point examples, for each of the three tiers, but read on to discover the “true costs” you’ll be looking at.

An Enterprise Class PPM Solution

Clarizen, Clarity, Workfront, ServiceNow PPM, etc

Full-featured tools like these will likely cost $60-$100 per full-function user, per month for licensing. In addition, you should plan for a one-time services cost for basic configuration and onboarding assistance. This could range from $30,000 – $100,000 or more, depending on your organization’s complexity.

  • # of Licenses
  • 50
  • 150
  • Annual Licences
  • $42,000
  • $100k-150,000
  • One-Time Fee
  • $30,000
  • $100,000
  • First-Year Costs
  • $72,000
  • $200K – $250,000


Simple Task Management Tools

Asana, Trello, Monday.com

Tool such as these are used mostly to organize task activities with no integrations or customized reports. They will cost $16 – $25 per user, per month for licensing. These typically do not involve or even have options for external services for configuration or implementation. You should, however, factor in your own time to learn the tool and the resource time needed to train your team on how to use it.

  • # of Licenses
  • 50
  • 150
  • Annual Licences
  • $12,600
  • $37,800
  • One-Time Fee
  • $0
  • $0
  • First-Year Costs
  • $12,600
  • $37,800


Mid-Tier Systems

SmartSheets, MS Project O365

These fit somewhere in between the two types previously mentioned. These systems will run you around $25 per user, per month, though implementation costs can be highly variable in this tier. If you have the time and the experience, you can decide to implement it yourself, or engage an implementation partner and pay $10,000 – $50,000 for professional onboarding support.

  • # of Licenses
  • 50
  • 150
  • Annual Licences
  • $15,000
  • $45,000
  • One-Time Fee
  • $20,000
  • $50,000
  • First-Year Costs
  • $35,000
  • $95,000

Software cost estimates, above, reflect typical “list prices” which can often be negotiated down especially if you have larger volumes, have a pre-existing relationship with that particular software vendor, or commit to a longer contract (1-3 years).

Pro Tip

PPM license costs can be highly negotiable in certain circumstances. If you are able to negotiate lower costs, be sure those discounts apply to any additional licenses in case you need to grow.

The Basic Onboarding costs we have described so far are for relatively straightforward deployment of the solution and getting the team onboard. Costs in these ranges would not typically yield a fully customized solution for your organization (integrations, configurations for your specific business processes, etc.).

Basic Onboarding typically includes:

  • Initial setup and configuration of the system
  • User account import and permissions setup
  • Basic project lifecycle configuration
  • Basic financial configuration
  • Minimal report development
  • User training, onboarding and go-live support

Please Note! You can spend 10% or 10x this amount depending on your needs. As you will see below, there are a few key areas that can really increase or decrease inflate your costs.

But… I can get “free” or cheap bundled licenses!

Yes licensing costs, especially for the more full-featured PPM tools, can be highly negotiable depending on volume. This can be an important factor for tool selection and consideration, but be cautious! Unless you are a small shop using a freemium service, ‘on the house’ licenses are never really going to be “free”.

Many product companies use a bundling tactic to expand their software footprint. Software companies often bundle PPM software with other products or services to give you the impression you’re getting it for free, or at least at a steep discount. In these cases, a sweetheart license price structure can seem like a great deal…at first. In the long run, though, you may find you are better off paying more for a system that actually meets your needs rather than struggling with the wrong tool just because you got a “good” deal.

A previous client had gone through the pain of implementing not just one, nor two – but three different resource management tools before they found a good fit. The first tool was selected because it was an add-on to their ERP, and you guessed it!… licenses were offered at a steep discount. The second tool was “free” as part of a bundled enterprise software suite and they fell for the bundle tactic.

Unfortunately by the third tool, the time (both in duration and level of effort) coupled with the erosion of their credibility with their stakeholders, ended up costing them many times over the license discount they received. Not to mention, the lost opportunity costs during the 4-year journey to ultimately find the right tool.

The lesson here, is that while license cost is an important consideration, there are other costs to consider, both hard and soft. More importantly, if the tool does not meet your needs, you’ll never gain the value from it to justify those discounted licenses.

At Kolme Group we care and want to help you get the best out of your PPM Tool. Join Kim Essendrup for a Free, 15-minute consultancy to discuss your
PPM Tool needs and best steps forward

What really impacts your PPM Tool costs?

There are a few key areas that have the greatest impact on your overall PPM tool costs. Understanding these areas can help you identify which items on your PPM wish-list are going to cost you the most so you can start to understand your must-haves versus your nice-to haves from a cost perspective.

Key cost areas:

  • Licensing Types
  • Integrations
  • Customization & Automation
  • Unique Use Cases
  • Support and Enablement Approaches
  • User Training, Onboarding and Go-Live Support


The license tier or license type you choose can impact your licensing costs by -50 to +100%. Take the time to figure out which license level you really need, rather than leaving it up to the supplier.

PPM licenses are typically broken out into different types/tiers depending on the user role in the system. These types will vary by PPM, but typically include:

License typeDescription
Requestor / ReportLimited access license allowing a user to request work, perform basic interaction or access reporting. This license type is usually the lowest price point.
Team Member / Time EntryAllows for project team members to access and update assigned work and log time.
Planner / FullFor project and portfolio managers, allows a user to edit, assign, and report on modules within the system.

Pricing can be dramatically different between the license types and this can have a huge impact on your costs. For example, Requestor or Team Member licenses can cost a fraction compared to those of the Planner tiers.

Pro Tip

When drafting out your PPM scope, take the time to identify each “persona” in your organization and what they need to do in the system.

Understanding each persona needed in your organization will help guide the conversation with prospective PPM suppliers and ensure the right license level for each of your personas. You will want to avoid moving through the sales cycle only to find out that you purchased the wrong license types.

We have had some customers who ended up having to push through a last-minute PO to increase their license counts right before go-live since they incorrectly assumed the permissions given available to the roles in the system. The sponsor was not pleased to learn a day before go-live their annual revenue was going to increase by double.

In the reverse scenario, we worked with a different customer that had surveyed stakeholders within the organization and largely inflated the number of licenses needed. It ended up taking 5 years of increased user-adoption throughout the organization to match the number of users in the system to that of the license counts in the contract purchased.

Below is a simplified version of a how you might map out a persona matrix to help quantify your license needs:

Figure 1 – Sample Persona Matrix to help quantify license requirements



Integrations can add $10,000-$50,000 to your implementation costs, per integration. Very sophisticated custom integrations can be $100,000 or more

Integrations with external systems is another possible large impact to your PPM cost. Projects don’t live in isolation inside your organization and consequently neither does your project data. You can increase value when adding automation and centralized reporting by integrating your PPM with other systems, but it can get really expensive.

Typical integration points include:

  • Directory services for identity + access management automation
  • ERP for budgeting, actual costs, and revenue forecasts
  • File repository for document collaboration
  • Agile tools
  • Ticketing or IT System Management tools for project intake or reporting
  • HR systems for user data and time off
  • Data warehouse or reporting services

Integrations also vary highly in costs depending on the method used to build the connection. The right method for you depends on your budget but you’ll also want to assess the volume, frequency and uniqueness of your integration requirements.

Typical integration methods, from least to most costly, are:

  • File-based

    Are triggered manually for infrequent updates, or for frequent updates, use automated scripts, emails or basic automation. These are a good option for an inexpensive start and provides an opportunity for using the tool before investing time + cost for a complex integration.

  • Commercial Middleware

    These integration platforms are nice if you have simple requirements. Often, PPM providers will have favored platforms or may have their own middleware platform. Common platforms like Workato, Jitterbit, SnapLogic or Zappier can give you a reasonably quick start to getting your integration up and running. Keep in mind, you may still have some custom development + another platform added to your cost outline.

  • Custom API

    Typically require the most development resources, but they’ll grant the you powerful control over the integration. If you can build one without commercial middleware, that’s one less ongoing cost to worry about.

Pro Tip

Discover if your organization has the capability to develop in-house integrations. This will save you a significant investment in professional services, and also give you the ability to adjust/expand on that integration in the future.

Regardless of your approach, be sure you have a clear understanding of what you want from each integration, including what data flows, which direction, and how often. This will help ensure you get what you need and helps your provider give the most accurate cost based on those requirements.

Customization & Automation

Customizations and automation can add a little (~10%) or a lot (~2x or 3x) to your general onboarding costs

Full-featured PPM tools offer amazing levels of customization and automation to increase your organizations efficiency. In fact, the more important question is not can the tool automate this process, but should it automate this process.

Our advice: Start with the minimum amount of customization and automation – focus on critical simple processes and fundamental adoption of the tool. As your users become more comfortable with the system, you can add additional functionality and automation. This makes onboarding easier and increases your short + long-term adoption.

A common example of this “minimum lovable product” approach is seen during new project requests. Often, a PPM tool is implemented to support the consolidated project intake and review process across previously siloed departments. While providing enormous value to an organization, some get excited and roll-out too much, too early on.

Typically, clients add sophisticated workflow automations before the organization has adopted the simple concept of the aforementioned, this consolidated project intake process..

Pro Tip

It’s best to start simple and then add more after adoption is successful.

When considering your PPM needs, be aware – the more customization and automation you add, the higher the implementation cost.

You may also want to research how easy the tool is to learn from a configuration standpoint. This way, you can understand the administrative overhead required to enhance those configurations later on, whether it be the supplier, partner or even your own team.

Unique Use Cases

If each use case (additional department) you add is completely unique, estimate another +50% to +100% for each additional department you onboard.

Another possible significant impact on implementation costs are the number of unique use cases, or unique team processes, that are joining the tool.

For example, the configuration and onboarding effort may not be appreciably different if you have one common way of working for 100 people or 1,000 people. But, if you have five departments that each have their own unique project lifecycle, financial or resource management processes, that can be 5x more work to implement because it acts as if you’re really onboarding five different organizations.

This is why, implementing a PPM tool is a great excuse to apply some standardization across the organization. Even streamlining simple things like common project KPI tracking, status reporting templates or reporting can not only reduce the cost of your implementation but also provide value to the organization through standardization.

Pro Tip

If it’s not possible to standardize, then you can improve your implementation success by onboarding one business unit at a time. This gives you a chance to learn lessons from each successive department’s onboarding.

Support approach and involvement

Ongoing support and enhancements can be a likely impact to your implementation cost as you decide how involved you want your team to be. Most PPM tools provide various training mediums for project team members to learn system administration and configuration. This will allow you to successfully own the system and configuration after implementation. Some providers will even encourage an “enablement” approach during onboarding, allowing your team members to be hands-on during implementation, potentially reducing some of costs by taking on the less technical aspects of onboarding. This includes UI clean-up and user permissions.

Of course, the more resources you dedicate to system implementation plus ongoing support, the lower your supplier implementation cost. However, this can impact your timeline. Keeping the pros and cons in mind, understand that it will be a better long-term investment but you have to have the resources available on your team to focus on learning these skills and be ready to invest in them.

At Kolme Group we care and want to help you get the best out of your PPM Tool. Join Kim Essendrup for a Free, 15-minute consultancy to discuss your
PPM Tool needs and best steps forward

The hidden PPM tool costs that will get you

Although the costs described above can have the biggest impact on your overall PPM implementation budget, there are areas that can take a surprising amount of effort by your supplier or your team and cost you more than planned.

Data Migration

Migrating mass amounts of data for historical or in-flight work can be surprisingly challenging and time consuming. Even if the data is quality (which usually isn’t the case) you’ll need to transform and import it, in order to make that legacy data coexist with new data. That’s a lot of work!

If possible, use your transition to a new PPM tool as an opportunity to start clean with new project templates, fresh budgets and data.

For example, if your organization uses Microsoft Project Pro to track project plans and your PPM tool allows you to import those plans, this does not mean you should. Your old plans are likely not consistent across all your projects or they have issues with the resource data lining up with your new, clean, PPM resource pool. Besides,  most PPM systems have richer metadata on their projects that your old MS Project plan will not. So, although it may be attractive to import all your current plans, you will likely find that it is not worth the effort and best to start off fresh.

Process Development

Attempt to document your processes (project lifecycle, budgeting, etc.) in advance. If you need help developing or improving your processes, your PPM implementation partner should be able to provide assistance on best practices. Keep in mind, this type of consulting can add up quickly and deduct from your planned implementation budget. Be prepared with your processes, documented and ready to go, or with the expectation that you will need to invest in expert assistance improving your ways of working at the same time you implement your toolset.

Operational Costs

Likely, you will need to dedicate an amount of resources to administration, training, and maintenance of your new system. We typically advise to invest some amount of resource time to learn the configuration side. This way you can make configuration changes, develop reports, etc., rather than always relying on an outside partner. This is promising, but you will need to allocate ongoing resource time for these activities.

RoleKey Responsibilities Commitment (% of Time)
Executive SponsorProvide Overall PPM Implementation Goals and Objectives. Provides support for escalations.5%
Implementation & Product OwnerDay to day functional owner. Identify implementation team members. Provide clarity on user stories. Handles day to day analysis, questions and issue resolution. Ensures successful roll-out and user adoption. 25-50%
Implementation Project Manager Manage Implementation Team Members. Schedules and assists with discovery, requirements gathering, UAT, and training sessions.25-50%
Administrators Configure user interface (view, profiles). Configure reports and dashboards. Manage users and permissions. Assist with data loading of historical data. Configure and modifies business process rules. Provide technical assistance and support for integrations. Provides Tier 2 Support Participates in End-User Training25-50%

Support Costs

Be aware – different PPM providers approach and price support in different ways. Key areas to watch for are:

  • What are the support plans available, what SLA do they provide, and which one matches the criticality of this system in my environment?
  • Is administrative / configuration training free or cost money? Are vouchers available for signing up to different support levels?
  • Do I pay more for staging or development environments? Any required workflow or configuration tools? Or are those included?

Training Costs

Another cost that can be surprising is end-user training cost –  both in the time needed to train and producing the supporting documents. Because PPM tools are often configured to support your specific project delivery processes, you will need to develop end-user training specific to each persona in your organization.

Your PPM supplier may have a standard deck to get you started but you will also want to highlight areas the tool has been configured beyond out-of-the-box and tailored for that persona’s specific business processes.

This cost may or may not be included in the PPM implementation costs and when it is, it can be significant. To save cost, you can:

    • Go with a ‘train-the-trainer’ approach, where the suppler trains your power users or trainers, who then go on to train all your end-users.
    • Develop the training in-house. This can save a lot but requires you have involved team members in the implementation – enough so they can develop the material.
    • Lastly , you can record the trainings and making it part of the onboarding for new hires or for those that desire an On Demand option.

How do I keep PPM tool costs down and maximize return?

Kolme has implemented PPM tools for many clients and based on our experience, we wanted to share the following tips with you, as you prepare get to start, or re-engage, your PPM journey:

  • Moderate your expectations, simplify your needs

    Yes, it is exciting, but our main advice is to be pragmatic and temper your expectations. PPM tools can adapt to your organization, but they are only tools and won’t solve all your problems. If anything, they will help identify the problems in your organization.

  • Own It!

    Get involved, learn the tool and be active during the implementation. Start by documenting your own processes and invest in training your own people so they can be part of the solution, if possible.

  • Use An Agile Approach

    Start with a “Minimum Lovable Product.” If you try to implement too many features at one time you will fail. For example, if you roll out 50 features to users, they will be overwhelmed and will probably adopt none. Better to start simple and implement 5 high-value features until adopted, then gradually add layers of features after that.

  • Invest in Organizational Change Management (OCM)

    Use OCM strategies for long-term success. Even the best tool in the world is not going to succeed if nobody uses it, so look into tools and techniques like Prosci© ADKAR model for managing change and helping users adopt the new system and the processes attached.

Is a PPM worth it?

A PPM tool can undeniably be a worthy investment. Even with costs involved, and some not insignificant, we still advise on having one.

As a former PMO lead for a professional services organization, I implemented a PPM tool and that Organization’s billable utilization improved by more than 20%! The next time I implemented a PPM tool for an organization, we identified and corrected erroneous CAPEX allocation of labor cost which was amounted to 30-40% of all project labor. With another client, we found that 75% of their projects did not align to their strategic objectives. And with another, we managed to save nearly a million dollars’ worth of resource effort through automation and streamlining of processes.

So, based on our personal experience implementing these tools for ourselves – and for our clients – it is definitely worth it.


What’s next?

If you are ready to go shopping for PPM tools, or revisit your existing implementation, here are a few next steps:

  • Build Your Stakeholder Coalition

  • Justify the Return on a PPM Investment

  • Identify Your Requirements

  • Document a Proposal for Development and Evaluation

At Kolme Group we care and want to help you get the best out of your PPM Tool. Join Kim Essendrup for a Free, 15-minute consultancy to discuss your
PPM Tool needs and best steps forward