The current competitive context is always more crowded and tougher: there is a boom of very innovative start-ups which are a real headache regarding all kind of markets and which make new technologies a source of competitive advantages: this phenomenon is part of what we call “digital transformation”.
In these markets, companies need to be more flexible to adapt quickly to changes – unless they want to face a competitive advantages loss with potentially terrible effects for all the organization.
For this reason, many companies turn to project management, the only strategy which guarantees enough flexibility and coordination in order to turn the business model into a competition machine.
Discover how to manage your organization by projects with ITM Platform’s White Paper:
What is project management?
Project management is a combination of practices that translate the company’s strategy into specific activities (or, more precisely, into projects), linked with the pursued business objectives and benefits.
Projects are not a tool for developing services anymore, they have become the value creation system for the company
In project management, the output of each project is a company’s goal or a necessary factor to achieve it.
Project-based Organization Management (PBOM) is made up of four pieces:
Project portfolio agile management
Project management office with strategic functions
An extension of the planning of the projects to their consequences and benefits.
Talent able to combine technical skills with business vision
If you want to know more about these points, I recommend you read the white paper: Project-based Organizational Management
Which is project management role within digital transformation?
A company’s digital transformation can easily become a messy and disorganised process, a response to business or operational problems without any leadership or any results. In order to face this risk, there is the need of a control mechanism that allows to manage the change.
A company can benefit from PBOM in several ways when it comes to digital transformation projects:
Aligning business units, departments and information management, avoiding integration difficulties between platforms and applications who are in more advanced stages.
Making technological solutions to be more solid as they are chosen considering not only temporary trends, but current necessities and, mainly, the future ones.
Managing as projects all the necessary means in order to guarantee the integration so that the process is not blocked in certain stages. Special attention must be paid to data processing, including the cleaning of information and its enrichment.
It is easy to find examples of companies or whole industries which are redirecting their selves under a competitor with disruptive traits pressure.
Thinking, for example, about the emergence of AirBnB in the tourist market, it is easy to imagine the kind of transformation that many traditional agents must have carried out in order to keep on attracting clients.
Sometimes it is necessary to rethink the entire business model: from sales channels to price strategies, brand identity and technological structure. The only way to do it in an organized way is by managing projects.
This article belongs to a series on the Project-based Organizational Management. You can continue reading here:
When we talk about project management tools, we often think about gantt charts, project plans and project reports. But when the user is a PMO officer, things are quite different. You probably haven’t thought of all these apps to help you manage your project portfolio.
One of the major responsibilities of a Project Management Office is to adopt a technological suite that supports the daunting mission of coordinating the entire project portfolio of an organization. Additionally, many projects have a heavy data print, often in the form of unstructured data, or data without a clear impact on work quality. However, being able to make decisions based on the analysis of those type of untapped data is extremely important for both project leaders and C-level executives. The PMO in that context should assume a facilitating and catalyzing role.
Each PMO officer ought to select with care the technological portfolio that best meets project nature and the governance model. In this article, we recommend several software applications that can be very useful to organize your ideas and have a hold of a complex, corporate project portfolio. Not all of them are project management nor PPM tools, but they all have clear benefits in this world. Consider them for your own toolkit!
Whether it’s for a corporate PMO or an IT PMO; for strategic projects, R&D or client projects, these apps can be an essential part of your daily operations.
The most useful apps and tools for PMO managers
Because a professional tool to manage your entire project portfolio is the first duty of any PMO.
The tool: ITM Platform
If you don’t already know it, ITM Platform is a cloud-based project, program and portfolio management tool(PPM) with a core strength: it doesn’t need heavy configuration work and and enables an incredibly fast roll-out. With a simplified user experience aligned with the methodological best practices of PMBOK and Prince2, ITM Platform supports the setup of new PMOs with predefined dashboards, customizable reports, plus all the features that a project manager needs.
Pros: ITM Platform is the simplest way to communicate the status of critical projects with senior management, letting them know how money is being spent and supporting more informed decision-making.
Cons: As with any other PPM tool, an adoption plan is required to manage the roll-out, ensure that all project teams are involved and that the system data are reliable.
Want us to show the advantages ITM Platform can bring? Request a free online demonstration.
2. Dashboards and Business Intelligence
In the 21st Century, information must be visual. If you want to make data analysis, you will at least need a robust project that can visualize project reports and establish dynamic relationships between variables.
The tool: Power BI
Power BI: SaaS brother of Excel and cousin of Tableau.
Excel’s SaaS brother and Tableu’s cousin, Power BI is Microsoft’s data visualization tool. It uses the language M (same as Excel), and can be connected to any external source through API.
Pros: Once plugged to your data, it provides a really friendly experience to analyze data… with Microsoft’s quality.
Cons: In order to onboard Power BI it’s highly recommendable to get the help of a programmer that plugs into the data sources – small teams and organizations may have issues here.
How to connect it to ITM Platform: Follow this basic tutorial to use ITM Platform as a data source through the open API: although the tutorial talks avout excel, it’s really the same code.
3. Ticketing and development
IT maintenance and software development teams have very specific work management needs. It’s often useful to adopt software that supports change requirement and issue tickets, as well as agile sprints.
The tool: JIRA
JIRA, from Atlassian, is the standard product for the management of development teams.
JIRA, by Atlassian, is the golden standard for managing development teams.
Pros: JIRA makes it really easy to report issues, user stories and epics to development teams, attach supporting documentation, mention involved people and assign tasks to a given sprint.
Cons: Reporting is not its most satisfactory aspect.
How to connect it with ITM Platform: The native connector allows to send tasks and projects from JIRA to ITM Platform. Just add your JIRA url and actívate the connector!
This easy integration allows PMOs to report and control their development portfolio from ITM Platform.
4. Team communication
If your team doesn’t have a nice communication environment, they will find it somewhere else.
The tool: Slack
I’m sure you know Slack by now. Its combination of IRC-type chat with in-built work management apps has transformed it into a really powerful tool to connect and coordinate teams: channels by project, attachments, checklists, code snippets… While no technology is radically innovative, the product is unbeatable.
Pros: Slack’s Marketplace hosts hundreds of SaaS apps that will boost your productivity enormously.
Cons: While the freemium option is quite elastic, the cost per user and month is high, but you will have to pay it if you don’t want to lose stored data.
How to connect it to ITM Platform: ITM Teambot, ITM Platform’s app for Slack, allows any user find out their assigned tasks and projects, report effort and progress, as well as add comments to their ITM Platform projects, directly from their Slack chat.
5. Demand management: compile change requests
All PMOs face change requests that exceed by far the capacity of available resources. But before ideas can be analyzed and approved, they must live in one place.
The tool: ITM Platform templates for Zapier
The ITM Platform templates in Zapier allow you to collect tasks from anywhere in the cloud.
Thanks to Zapier you can send tasks to an ITM Platform project from hundreds of apps, like Gmail, Google sheets, Dropbox, Evernote… If you take into account the possibilities of multiple-step zaps, there are few limits!
Pros: Empower your entire organization to participate in a culture of innovation and give them an authorized channel to send change requests to the PMO
Cons: Honestly speaking, Zapier is very reliable, and for small data flows it can be even used for free. Of course, the safe bet is to stick to processes that can be automated without affecting performance.
How to connect it to ITM Platform: To understand how to set up a zap you can follow our tutorial, use popular zap templates (below), or use this Google Sheets template.
The template to collect tasks in Google Sheet and send them to ITM Platform.
Diagramming processes and workflows is one of the most useful ways to promote change, create new procedures and make sure you’re working scientifically towards organizational improvement. A diagrammed PMO is a better managed PMO!
The tool: Lucid Chart
Lucid Chart is a leader in the niche of professional diagrams
Lucid Chart is leader in this software niche. That said, there’s a lot of really trustworthy competitors, and they’re all using similar license plans. Try on your own a couple of them and go with what you like. If the PMO has only a few users, the cost will be neglectable.
Pros: Do you want to explain complex procedures that affect different areas of your company? Forget pen and paper.
Cons: Very few. In the case of LucidChart, it can even be imported and exported to Microsoft Visio.
7. Big Data Analytics
Big Data won’t be a passing fad for PMOs. If they are in a corporation, they may have to coordinate internal big data projects; in smaller settings, data generated by project teams can be monitored with specific solutions.
The tool: Apache Hadoop
Hadoop, from Apache, is the well-known programming framework for distributed data analytics.
Apache Hadoop is the better known software for distributed data analytics.
Pros: The sheer amount of references of documentation that you can fin don Hadoop has no end.
Cons: Compared to all the suggestions above, it’s a programming language, and not a finished product –it may escape the authority and skillset of the PMO team.
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In every career, there’s a range of qualities and personality traits that can make or break your success. Project management is no different—and there are certain characteristics that project managers need to have in order to meet proficiencies in various industries. With the help of a useful software that eases the organizational and methodological demands of the job, project managers can find the necessary foundation of support whilst honing their own regulatory skillset.
Whether or not you have enrolled in a college program dedicated to growing a project management skillset or you intend to independently learn the industry with the assistance of technology, there are specific qualities that need to be exhibited in order to be successful. Some of the desirable qualities include having a mentorship mentality and being tech-savvy, but one of the most vital skills for any project manager is negotiation. Without negotiation, project management strategies both interpersonally and online will ultimately fail, as achieving wise decisions based on an effectual negotiation is the staple of any worthy venture.
Why Negotiation Matters
Negotiation is an essential part of project management due to the on-going nature of negotiating within the projects, and software can greatly improve the systematic fulfilment of project objectives. Both informal and formal negotiations are typical in various scenarios, such as when dealing with providers as they agree to contracts (formal) and having discussions to obtain internal resources (informal). Project managers will therefore need to know how to negotiate and how to do it well for the sake of each step of the project.
Negotiation is vital in many facets of project management, such as conflict management, contract management, and stakeholder management. By being a strong negotiator face to face and online, you will be able to showcase excellent verbal and listening skills while setting and achieving certain goals and limits. Having this skill also means that you know when and how to close the negotiation, which can make a significant impact on the outcome of the project and how your company ranks online.
Tips for Being a Better Negotiator
If you want to develop your negotiating skills, there are many tips to consider. One is that you should always take the initiative and be proactive about your approach. By taking charge of the process, you will have the psychological advantage to shape its outcome. Many strong negotiators often utilize the “anchoring” technique, where you clearly state your intentions early on in the conversation so that your counter-party uses your opinion as their starting point.
Another tip is to use your body language to your advantage. Research in communication shows that a message is transferred 55% by body language, 38% by the way you speak, and 7% by the actual words. This means that your facial expressions and gesticulations can make you more persuasive in negotiation and more suggestive of your point of view.
Negotiation is a daily part of project management, both face to face and online, and it is crucial for people in the field to develop effective negotiating skills in order to be most successful at the job in addition to utilizing available organizational software.
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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.
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