PPM Tips
Justifying Investing In A Project Portfolio Management System
Published
December 18, 2020

Executive Summary

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

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

Let’s begin by defining our stakeholders – Who are they? We will categorize familiar stakeholders into three 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 “noise” and potentially defocus the message.

We call this the ‘Rabbit Hole of Details,’ and it can throw you off track, especially with busy executives who might need to 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.

Finance

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

Points of Interest to Help Tailor Your Messages

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 will sell your PPM investment if you demonstrate that your forecasting will be more timely, responsive, and, most importantly, more accurate.

DATA ACCURACY AND TRANSPARENCY

Of course, data accuracy and transparency are critical. Providing direct access and transparency to the PPM to your Project Managers will allow them to see the forecasts and keep the PMs in the loop in real-time. And, of 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 can forecast and manage their projects better if they can get direct access to financials. So if we can automate bringing in financial data, your actual resource costs, your existing invoices for each item you’re spending money on, even timesheets or travel expenses.

Getting those into your PPM 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 of a tool that will help sell it!

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 imperative to know what your resources are working on and 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.

We need to prioritize these projects because resources only have so many hours. In our 2018 whitepaper, we saw that reliable and accurate project data correlates with a 62% improvement in Resource Utilization and project success.

  • How many hours should resources be spent on new work vs. business as usual?
  • What percentage do we want going towards various initiatives?

Resource Managers need to know when they are over-or 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 mean ‘People,’ and when working with people, Team Satisfaction is Key.

It is mind-numbing to use multiple tools, double- or even triple-reporting data, and spend hours manually creating slide reports each week. 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.

AdaptiveWork, 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 and professional development and lets you clock out on time on Fridays.

That leads, again, to Automation and Simplification. A good PPM tool will have workflows and scheduled workflows. The system may automatically send my status report out every week. I could 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.

This point relates to team satisfaction, data accuracy, transparency, etc.

Bottom line: Human Resources and Resource Management’s focus is 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, these things are significant.

Does that justify me to add headcount? Or should I be reallocating people from 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 a 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 swamped, 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 easy to see in nice-looking graphs on a portfolio planning screen with hard data backing it up versus just saying, ‘Believe me.’

Executive Stakeholders

Your Executive stakeholders are a group that needs a specific, tailored business case. We discussed many of the benefits early on in the article outlining how to precisely talk to your C-Suite because everything we’ve discussed as a benefit to the employees also touches the C-Suite in some way. And that’s a lot of information for very busy people.

Have that conversation. When you talk to them, you can assure them that your actions align with their executive strategy. How are they measuring that alignment, and how can we ensure we’re meeting that as a department and company?

And this is what you can point out, what this tool can do, and that will be the story you can teach them. Help them understand that you have a common goal. And that’s the other thing. Your organization will be different a month from now, a quarter from now, or a year from now. You’re always going to change. Just look at what’s happened this year; you can’t foresee that.

And we see this scenario a lot. Businesses are panicking and reacting because, as they say, ” we have to do something.”

You do have to do something, but you also have to be able to change and change smartly. Your tool might need to change to incorporate new data or 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

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