The methodology is well designed, the managers agree on the need to have reliable information on projects to make decisions and the entire corporate structure is ready to embark on portfolio management. But within a few months, it becomes clear that employees who should feed the system with data about their work are not fulfilling their obligations.
This has been a problem for hundreds of large and medium-sized companies, but luckily there are many tactics to deal with the problem of internal resistance.
In this article, we present a summary of our PMO guide on how to encourage the adoption of a PPM tool.
PPM (Project Portfolio Management) software, responds to a basic need in any corporate environment: the coordination, monitoring and control of all projects to obtain the best possible use of the limited resources available.
A PPM tool can be used to support projects of any kind, for Innovation, IT, Operations, but also for strategy, marketing, or sales, as well as cross-organizational and transformation projects.
In all cases, PPM software will offer many benefits to your business:
A single place for collaborative work between departments and teams
Aggregate information for decision making
Reduction of non-strategic projects
Speed up project delivery times
Save time spent on administrative work
Challenges in adopting PPM software
Unfortunately, this process won’t be without challenges. Like other software, it relies on the data fed into the system. If this isn’t done correctly, the effectiveness of the software will be compromised.
This affects almost all corporate software, not just PPM tools: Imagine a CRM without customer data. Or an ERP without invoices.
Despite the difficulties, PPM software is vital to compete against the best because it provides an unbiased and clear view of the status of the whole project portfolio.
That’s why you will need to manage two fundamental elements when embarking on the transition:
A framework to manage the projects portfolio that is well integrated into the design of the organization
An adoption plan that anticipates employee reactions to channel them in a positive direction
The adoption plan must also consider how non-technical components affect the resistance to change. For example: in some cases, resistance is due to objective problems in daily operations. In that scenario, it is important to listen to the objections and address them.
On other occasions, the resistance is political in nature or due to friction within the management team.
ERPs (Enterprise Resource Planning systems) are the widest and most complex category of business software. As they are dedicated to all kinds of resources management, they must coexist with other business solutions which are more dedicated to business, such as PPM systems. In this article, we provide the keys regarding the limits of each tool and tips for a successful integration.
Sometimes, at ITM Platform we receive integration requests from some of our clients’ ERPs. In the following example, we explain what the coexistence rules are between a Project Portfolio Management system and an ERP.
Why ERP and PPM should coexist: a common story
A great ticketing agency hires a business controller to carry out an evaluation of the company’s internal processes. Its mission is to suggest improvements oriented to solving data discrepancy problems which currently exist between the finance department and commercial divisions. These matters are having important political repercussions because they affect sensitive issues such as the calculation of bonus at the end of the year.
From the first moment, the expert supposes that the problem is within the business software that the company is using. Or, in other words, within the incoordination between the different management tools that have been adopted in different areas of the company, in which the CIOs figure doesn’t exist.
An ERP with duplicated information is a bad ERP
Our business controller discovers that no one has taken the effort to define information flows between ERP (a kind of a feral version of SAP) and the company’s project portfolio management system. The consequence is that there are parallel processes with divergent results whose origin is difficult to estimate. Basically, the ERP doesn’t get to capture the complexity of a project’s cost structure in which there are cost estimates, real bills, calculated costs of internal and external hours, reported and accepted…
From that moment on, a decision is taken: PPM system, oriented to business generation, should be the entry point for all the information related to the organization’s projects, so that PPM project’s financial data “rules” over ERP and disagreements can be eliminated.
This example is typical within ERP integration and project management software. Generally, it is advisable to give autonomy to PPM system in order to support the projects’ activity solvency.
5 keys to ERP’s successful integration with a PPM system
Even though each company will have different use cases and specific necessities, there are some clear recommendations for the successful integration of ERP with a PPM system.
Let each system do its job. Data integration must be limited to what it is strictly operative. it is not advisable to design an integration which turns out to be an even greater complexity. On the other hand, orient yourself by three basic goals: avoid work duplication, avoid data divergence and promote transparency.
Share the necessary information. In a corporate environment, there cannot be black boxes. But we aware about the amount of information you share: when transparency is perfect, informative noise can be very loud with a very high productivity cost. That is why it is often advised not to send ERP more project data than the strictly necessary to carry out administrative and financial control tasks.
Choose a flexible PPM. Many PPM systems only send aggregated information about project costs, hindering project costs allocation to different items. By contrast, ITM Platform can send information with the desired granularity thanks to its open API (see documentation).
Don’t slave away your project managers by forcing them to adopt the projects’ module of you ERP. As you can see down below, the best way to integrate ERP and PPM is by letting ERP be in charge of the administration and PPM face all the complexity and the flexibility that a project demands.
Encourage collaboration around projects and the standardization within ERP. Apart from data integration, every technological integration process must face human and change management components. Designed procedures must leave enough operating space for project experts, taking advantage of communication and team cooperation systems, which sets out the PPM solution. On the other hand, ERP usually keeps to much stricter, standardized and mandatory procedures.
What sections of a project are covered by ERP?
When analyzing information systems and data flows in which a business environment is based, it is essential to know in advance what the connected areas are and possible overlaps between different platforms.
There are 4 points in which ERP administrative control layer comes into contact with projects:
In all these areas, it is crucial to design automatic flows from the portfolio management system to the ERP, specifying in each case the needed granularity and not sending invalid data as, for example, the estimated cost of a task.
What can't an ERP do?
The perception of an ERP being a business management machine which serves for any kind of activity can be a very big strain for corporate projects’ health.
For example, here are 5 areas in which ERP does not meet operative standards required by a portfolio management software
Resources planning: even though ERP can calculate and manage resource payments, only PPM has the enough flexibility to plan the resources and to be adapted to delivered work as it is being produced.
Project methodology: PPM tools are designed to be configurable to project methodologies in almost every environment. In addition, its functional scope is, as in ITM Platform’s case, very ambitious, gathering in one place financial and efforts data, risk planning and management, business goals, documents, deliverables, etc.
Task management and access to team members: the work content is difficult to manage from an ERP as, generally, the number of project team members with access to the environment, as well as its collaborative characteristics, is limited.
Portfolio view: PPM systems have prearranged project and portfolio signs and metrics which give a real-time image of the projects’ advancements, apart from allowing to work with customized exportable reports. Obtaining a similar view from an ERP means a tremendous configuration effort and hundreds of consultancy hours, while with ITM Platform it is about a few weeks.
Why does ISO have two sets of standards on project management?
These two sets of standards are complementary, not interchangeable. There is one set for project management (21500) and another for quality management systems in the field of projects (10006). Neither of them is subject to certification. ISO 9001/2008 provides certification on issues corresponding to these standards.
Now we are going to explain the difference between both:
ISO 10006/2003: is not a set of standards on project management. It is a set of standards on quality management systems in projects. The purpose of these standards is to offer additional guidelines - not requirements - to companies that clarify issues related to technical management. ISO 10006/2003 focuses on the management system used to manage quality in projects and is very useful for strong parent companies that wish to adopt ISO 9001/2008 standards and obtain certification.
ISO 21500/2012: is a specific set of standards for project management. It offers a guide - not a series of requirements - and is therefore not subject to certification. ISO 21500/2012 focuses on project management, processes and management areas, and coincides with such bodies of knowledge as PMBOK. It is useful for companies that wish to standardize and improve their project management. It is interesting to note that the two sets of standards do indeed overlap at certain points - hence their complementary nature - regarding the manner in which a project should be managed (‘best practices’ under 21500 and ‘quality management system’ under 10006). By applying and putting these standards into practice, all project-related work undertaken by an organization can be significantly improved.
The most immediate effect of ISO in project management is an emergence of global standards in this market due to an international agreement on project management principles and guidelines; in other words, organizations and professionals that manage and run projects are now able to use the same concepts and structures in their contractual and working relationships with clients, partners, suppliers and other stakeholders. This is facilitating the expansion of project-based businesses worldwide. Hence, ISO-based project management provides companies with a strategic advantage.
Another very important effect can be found in employment-related issues, because project management teams can be created or assembled under a contract that will comprise the definition of a scope or certain requirements, a set deadline, a forecast cost, a geographic area and the stakeholders involved. This implies the involvement of professionals from numerous specialized field and nationalities, requiring swift and temporary collaborations between groups. The flexibility, effectiveness and efficiency of these groups will depend on knowing and applying the management processes agreed upon globally under the ISO international standards on project management. In this regard, the education and training of professionals in project management skills gains additional importance as this might now refer to such professional certificates as the PMP® from the PMI® based on knowledge of the PMBOK Guide (Chapter 3 of which coincides with ISO 21500 by over 90%). ISO-based project management is an executive advantage for professionals who manage projects.
ISO Standards 10006 and 21500 relate to international knowledge, such as PMBOK, PRINCE2 and ICB3.0 on project management. They are not subject to certification but have also been included in knowledge standards that are subject to certification, such as ISO 9001/2008 and the PMP® from the PMI®.
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