The Gartner Gurus Are At It Again!

Gartner, Inc. has released the most recent version of its IT Project Portfolio Management Magic Quadrant report. This report measures all vendors within this industry and evaluates their product on both “Completeness of Vision” and their “Ability to Execute” placing each of the players into a category of Leader, Visionary, Challenger, or Niche Player. Feel free to download the report on the Innotas website.

Once again, Innotas is named as a “Leader” in IT Project Portfolio Management, and of course we are honored to be rated as a “Leader” in this year’s report for the 4th consecutive year.

We believe that if you challenge conventional wisdom you will find ways to do things much better than before.  This is precisely why we built the Predictive Portfolio Analysis (PPA) solution. It’s our stated vision to create an application that changes conventional PPM paradigms. So many of our competitors build products for outcomes, we choose to build products that enhance better processes. We’re glad that this vision is rewarded and acknowledged by third party analysts.

We understand that a failure of imagination in product development certainly assures success in inefficiency. We want to move markets, not product.

Today, Innotas stands as a wolverine at the gate guarding against such design apathy. We will not rest on our accolades this year or at any time in the future.

I would personally like to thank our outstanding team and all of their contributions and tireless effort in making this possible. Congratulations!

On behalf of Innotas, I would also like to thank our customers and users for their support, feedback, and continued dedication to Innotas. We set out on a mission to change the way IT is viewed within organizations, and we truly believe we are doing that. Thank you!

Amplitude plus attitude !

How Does Your Project Portfolio Stack Up?

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From day one, we are conditioned to compare. Whose baby has the cutest smile, who had the most hits in the Little League game, and what is your GPA and SAT scores? As we grow older the comparisons shift and the stakes increase – how am I doing vs. my peers, is my company performing well vs. my sector or industry, and how can I beat the competition?
Project management professionals – PMOs, CIOs, and IT Management – must focus on how the project portfolio stacks up. Why? Because the portfolio is where a majority of the investment goes. The project portfolio is likely comprised of innovation projects, maintenance work, sustaining operations, strategic initiatives, and new product development. More importantly, the project portfolio is where resources are spending a majority of their time and they are the organization’s most valuable asset.
Innotas recently conducted a survey across various industries, organizations, and roles. Below are five key statistics that describe the landscape:

1) Over 50% of organizations say their projects and resources are not well aligned with business goals

I once heard someone say a successful project that is not aligned to business goals is like a doctor saying, “The operation was successful, but the patient died.” The purpose and goal of projects should not be focused on the output, but the outcome. Successful execution or completion of projects and initiatives is no longer enough. The focus must be on the project outcome – creating value for the organization which means your projects must be aligned with business goals. Simply put business alignment = business value.

2) Resourcing is the #1 challenge for most organizations

Organizations reported that resourcing is less of a challenge than in 2014, but it maintains the top challenge heading into 2015. This should not be a surprise. Every organization has more project demand than they can handle and it is usually because of limited resources (or budget to hire resources). Prioritization has become a greater challenge (when comparing year over year) with the #2 spot. Rounding out the top three is alignment, implying project and portfolio management teams are placing increased emphasis on improving upfront planning to create more value for their key stakeholders.

3) Over 60% of organizations do not have enough resources to manage project demand

This is not surprising as the top challenge for organizations has been resourcing for the past two years. With close to two-thirds of organizations still struggling with finding enough resources, there must be focus on optimizing the available resources to ensure delivering maximum value. This will require asking the tough question: “Are our resources working on the right projects at the right time?” If you cannot answer “yes” confidently, then your organization likely has room for improvement with project prioritization and resource scheduling. Utilizing tools that integrate predictive analytics technology or what-if scenario planning can help ensure your resources are optimized.

4) 49% utilize scoring based on business objectives to align and prioritize projects

Scoring is the most popular method among organizations who have a formal methodology for prioritizing and aligning projects. This is largely unchanged from 2014, where the survey found 50% were using scoring. Scoring is by far the most efficient and low hurdle way to get some prioritization method started in any organization. The reason is scoring can be customized to fit your specific organizational needs and culture – you can make your criteria simple or as complex as desired. For example, organizations can start with a simple 0 to 10 score for incoming project demand. As acceptance and adoption increases, the scoring criteria can become more complex to include weighting or aggregating a pool of scores across team members and key stakeholders. The key is to build consensus on the criteria and build from there. Getting a few “quick wins” into the organization can go a long way.

5) 45% are investing in a project portfolio management (PPM) solution

Implementing prioritization, organizing resources, or aligning project work all require some form of process or organizational change. However, you cannot measure and manage the effectiveness of the processes without a tool to help you report and communicate the progress. Project portfolio management (PPM) software is designed to create efficient project management and strategically define a system for resource optimization. With a portfolio management solution in place, organizations are better equipped to execute on their initiatives, achieve desired results and ultimately drive more value.

Regardless of how mature your organization is, benchmarking and knowing where you stand is the first step towards improvement. You can download the full report here and get more key statistics to help assess where your organization stands.

The Road to Alignment: Your guide to planning and prioritizing projects

Aligning project and portfolio objectives with overall business goals may seem like a no-brainer. Inherent, almost, that projects you invest in are supporting your overall objectives. However, not all projects are created equal, and sometimes the best made plans are self destructive. In order to create a plan that truly factors in business goals and assure stakeholders that the projects you are putting your resources into are the best ones at the time you will need to fully vet the projects and prioritize based on desired outcomes. Because let’s face it, there is always request overage and resource shortage. Here are some guiding principles when setting out to create a portfolio plan that is aligned with your business objectives.

For a more investigative approach on getting your projects aligned with business goals, take a look at our on demand webinar, “The Road to Alignment” and discover the secrets to getting your portfolio on track.

Evaluate: Identify the projects that you are tasked with and evaluate them. All of them might not make it to the execution phase, but they can be taken into account, and either invested in or dismissed, depending on available capacity and project importance. Keep in mind that projects must be evaluated against others within the portfolio – just because a project is a good idea and supports business goals, it still might not be the best investment for the business at that time. There could be other more important projects or simply not enough resources to successfully execute the project.

Set the Criteria: You will need to define the criteria for selecting projects. By having this process in place, it makes it very simple to rule out lower value projects and identify the best projects to support your goals. By sticking to the criteria set in place, you will be on your way to making the biggest impact.

Score your Opportunities: Scoring can help identify projects with high value from an unbiased perspective. While some projects are obviously high priority, others may not be so clear. Creating a metric to score your requests can allow you to justify why a project will or will not be pursued.

Rank your Results: Don’t exceed your resources. Once you expire time, material, people and money, in the planning it is likely you will stop accepting projects. Be realistic and don’t over allocate resources and set your portfolio up for failure. Using realistic objectives and having a clear understanding of the constraints enables you to maximize your success. Creating a plan within these constraints enables you to make better decisions.

 

After going through the process of evaluation, setting criteria, scoring, and ranking results, you might still not have a fully actionable plan. Implementing a portfolio process into your project management office is no easy undertaking, it is sure to come with challenges. Be on the lookout for early identifiers of obstacles so you can counter quickly and diffuse complications before they get worse. A portfolio is most successful when it accounts for and surpasses as many predictable challenges as possible.

Clarity, agreement and commitment are all major challenges presented to even the most comprehensive PMOs. You can combat any clarity issues with having as much detail on process and strategy as possible, while remaining objective. Keep in mind this might also change as the portfolio evolves. Agreement is another element to portfolio alignment that is critical yet difficult to achieve. Stakeholders need to be supportive of the goals and undertand the objectives set forth in the plan. The last major challenge is commitment, and again essential to successful project execution. Team members need to commit to the plan and stay on track for the highest chance of success.

If incorporating these elements is not a large enough undertaking, the final thing to keep in mind is that the plan must be adaptable to change. It is unrealistic to think the business direction will not alter throughout the lifecycle of the portfolio and the plan will not veer off course. In order to be effective there has to be a dynamic plan that can change if there is good cause and the change is supported by all the stakeholders.

What is the best way to embrace changes and create a malleable plan? Take a look at our on-demand webinar “Navigating Alignment: Drive forward and stay between the lines” with Mark Mullaly, President of InterThink Consulting, and a pioneer in the development of organizational project management capabilities. Mullaly covers how to keep your portfolio on track and stay aligned through the toughest organizational issues.

View the on-demand webinar and keep your portfolio headed in the right direction.

 

Customer Showcase: Univita Health

Univita Health  Improves IT Project Tracking & Reporting with Innotas

Univita Health is a leading provider of home health care solutions known for its ability to enable patients to receive the treatment they need from the comfort of their own home. Univita has been providing patients with the care they need for over 25 years, and has successfully changed the way many patients have received health treatments.

Why Innotas?

Univita’s internal IT team of 80 professionals were considering an alternative solution for their Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solution. The team assessed their current solution and began searching for a PPM suite that could maintain their overall project management and time-tracking capabilities, but could add more functionality.

Univita compared Innotas against a number of solutions evaluating their highest priority needs:

  • User-friendly interface that reduced time recording and ramp up times
  • Robust reports that were easy to produce
  • Ease of use to set up projects and profiles

After exploring options and in depth discussions, the Univita team chose Innotas as their Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solution. Innotas’ user experience gave the team confidence for high adoption rates from their users.

Suggestions to Others Considering Innotas:

David Hedberg, Program Manager at Univita Health would like to advise fellow PMs that when considering adopting a PPM solution it is important to identify the key benefits of the solution. In this case, the training and implementation (adoption) speed was a deciding factor for the team. The team was able to reduce the time users spent learning the system and there was little resistance from users because the intuitive process.

Next Steps:

Univita plans to implement top-down resource management to facilitate project planning and headcount allocation. Univita is utilizing Innotas’ implementation team and customer success manager to ensure optimal performance of the system.


For a more detailed look at how Univita was able to improve their project tracking and reporting, view our case study.

Innotas Recognized as a “Leader” in Portfolio Management by Leading Research Firm

Innotas today announced that Forrester Research recognized it as a “Leader” in Portfolio Management, in its recently-released report, “The Forrester Wave™: Portfolio Management For The Tech Management Agenda, Q1 2015” (March 2015)*.   This positioning is based on analyst evaluation of Innotas’ Cloud Portfolio Management solutions.

Here is an excerpt from the press release:

“Based on an analysis of 10 vendors’ Portfolio Management capabilities and how they stack up, the report indicates that ‘Innotas gains entrance into the Leader category by leveraging a highly configurable solution to provide solid analytics for the power user and ease of use for the casual user.’    The report further states, ‘Innotas’ top-down approach includes features for portfolio and prioritization, resource capacity and demand planning, predictive analytics, and dashboards.’   The Forrester Wave report is designed to help enterprise architecture (EA) and project management (PMO) professionals select the right partner for their tech management portfolio needs.”

My view is that this is not only interesting because a leading analyst firm has rated Innotas as a “Leader,” but this is the second firm that has done so.  Innotas is now the only cloud-native Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solution vendor to be rated a “Leader” by both Forrester and Gartner.  Both analyst firms not only look at the product, but consider our support, services, and overall customer satisfaction into their rating decisions.

Our people and approach differentiate us in the market.

To access a copy of the Forrester Wave ™ Portfolio Management for Tech Management report click here.

 

*The Forrester Wave™: Portfolio Management for the Tech Management Agenda, Q1 2015, March 2015.  Copyright © 2015, Forrester Research, Inc.

Innotas Feature Updates: Q1 2015

We are excited to announce our Q1 set of releases which include several new updates to Innotas PPM. Over the past few months we’ve focused our efforts on continuing to enhance the usability of our solution as well as building in new features to better support our large enterprise customers.  As of March 6th, Innotas is now equipped with the following features:

 

Predictive Portfolio Analysis Enhancements

The Predictive Portfolio Analysis module now offers a suggestion engine that analyzes portfolio shortfall data and will call attention to opportunities to improve the portfolio at a small incremental cost.  We’ve also added the ability to compare scenario outputs, including the ability to compare timelines and resource utilization heat maps.

 

Increased Self Service Admin Functionality for Tasks

Now admin users have the ability to add and remove fields from tasks via the admin tab.  Admin users can also create task categories and fields for better task control. We have added restrictions to the fields so admins are able to show relevant fields to users, depending on the task type. Also, as a user you can now choose what task fields to display in your task list view and admins can now set a global default view for task list column fields.

 

New JavaScript-Based Gantt Charts for Tasks and Projects

Our new JavaScript-based Project and Task Gantt Charts allow users to easily configure and print Gantt views, enabling them to get a visual representation of when projects are taking place.

 

On behalf of the Innotas team, we want to thank everyone who contributed feedback and suggestions for features. This set of releases are largely due to our customers who have expressed ideas and suggestions and we could not have done it without you. For more detailed information and a comprehensive list of all features that are included in these releases, please see our release notes from January 16th and March 6th in the Innotas Community Portal.

January 16th Release Notes

March 6th Release Notes


We look forward to continuing to include requested features into our product and learning how Innotas PPM is changing the way you do business.

Six Tips for a Successful PPM Software Implementation

When planning to implement a Project Portfolio Management software solution, there are several factors to keep in mind that could be the difference between success and failure.  Below are six key areas to examine prior to implementation kickoff…

  1. How much change will the PPM solution be creating?

One of the biggest reasons that PPM implementations fail is because organizations cannot cope with the amount of change required by the systems.  If you are new to PPM, often a Top Down approach to the implementation can minimize organizational change and still contribute a large amount of value to the organization.  If you’d like to learn more about Top Down, please check out my blog entry: What is Top Down PPM and Why is It Important.

 

  1. Is the executive team strongly behind this initiative?

Often one of the most difficult duties of implementing a PPM solution is establishing the PPM tool as the de facto authority for managing and maintaining project information.  It can be especially difficult to establish this clout if the PPM solution is being rolled-out with little organizational support or involvement.  When implementing a PPM solution it is critical to ensure that VP and/or C-Level executives are involved and understand the value and objectives of the roll-out.

 

  1. Think about outputs before defining inputs.

Before starting to define fields in your PPM solution for managing and executing projects, think about what reporting outputs will be important for your stakeholders.  Defining a concise list of outputs will help you better understand what information you need to capture in the PPM solution initially.  This will ensure that you are only capturing relevant information in your PPM solution and will also minimize the amount of care and feeding required by your end users, thus facilitating adoption.

 

  1. Centralized or Federated?

There are two main adoption approaches to consider for keeping the information in your PPM solution updated.

  1. Centralized – a centralized rollout is usually a great approach for larger organizations with hundreds of resources. In this approach the PMO team is responsible for meeting with different business leaders (usually weekly or monthly), collecting project and resource staffing information, and then updating the PPM solution for analysis, reporting, and planning.
  2. Federated – a federated approach relies on end users and/or non-PMO project owners to keep project and resource information in the PPM solution updated. This approach usually works well for small to mid-sized organizations.  An effective way to encourage adoption in a federated PPM model is for the PMO to send a reminder email once per week for project owners to update their project and resource information in the PPM solution.

 

  1. Avoid Big Bang

Many PPM solutions have a lot of bells and whistles and it can be tempting to try to take advantage of all of these features at the onset of the PPM roll out.  However, more often than not, a big bang approach to a PPM roll-out will set your organization up for failure due to the amount of care and feeding required by end users to keep the PPM solution up to date.  A better approach is to start small and to incrementally add capabilities to your PPM solution over time as the organization matures and usage becomes ingrained in your process.

 

  1. Ensure that You Have the Right Personnel Assigned to the Implementation

Often PPM implementations fail due to an organization not assigning the right resources to own the implementation, or not being able to dedicate an appropriate amount of time to the implementation.  Depending on your current PMO maturity level and the complexity of the tool you are implementing this may vary.  At Innotas we will often recommend assigning a Business Analyst who is capable of dedicating at least 25% of his/her time to own the implementation, and recommend key stakeholder (PMO Director, etc.) involvement for ~10% of their time.

What is Top Down PPM and Why is it Important?

What is Top Down Portfolio Management?

Top down portfolio management is an approach to implementing project portfolio management software that helps to minimize organizational change and promote solution adoption.  Opposed to the bottom up approach to PPM which focuses on improving individual project execution through detailed task management, top down portfolio management focuses on improving the portfolio planning process and improving project execution and value via better planning.

For organizations that are newer to portfolio management, top down is often the recommended approach to PPM by leading industry analysts.

Three Reasons Why a Top Down approach to Portfolio Management Promotes a Successful PPM Implementation

1. Ensures Better Project Alignment

Top down portfolio management emphasizes defining a systematic process for how projects get prioritized and selected.  Improving the project review and selection process helps guarantee that your organization stays focused on the highest value initiatives and improves the value delivered by the project portfolio as a whole.  Putting a process like this in place helps minimize one off work requests and ensures that organizational resources stay focused on the right areas, in turn improving project delivery.

 

2. Minimizes Organizational Change

The top down approach to PPM minimizes organizational change by focusing initially on just capturing project KPIs that are critical metrics for reporting and planning.  Often organizations implementing a top down portfolio approach will not capture any task level information and just track high level project KPIs (tracking milestone or phase level task information is also common).  Tracking project information at a high level ensures that project resources can spend their time actually doing project work and spending all of their time keeping the PPM tool updated!

 

3. Better Planning leads to Better Execution

Better planning leads to better execution, and one of the biggest reasons that projects fail is that those projects were poorly planned and scheduled without consideration of the broader portfolio.  Resource capacity and demand constraints are often the biggest impediment to completing project work on time and on budget and often PMOs struggle to get visibility into how resources are allocated across project and non-project work.   The traditional, bottom-up approach to resource management, which emphasizes scheduling individual resources on tasks, can be very time consuming and often provides an unnecessary level of detail, especially when projects are in a pre-execution stage.  A top down approach to resource management focuses on assigning resources at the project level for a percentage of that resources time, and is a much more efficient way for project and portfolio managers to perform resource planning, especially those that are new to PPM.  Adopting a top down approach to resource management is an excellent way for newer organizations to improve visibility into resource capacity and demand, without requiring an excessive amount of effort for data input.  Creating a high level resource capacity and demand view can dramatically improve portfolio planning thus facilitating project scheduling, simplifying headcount forecasting, and improving overall project execution.

Five Reasons to Be Thankful for Your PMO

It is that time of the year where we reflect on what we are thankful for.  Thanksgiving comes and goes, but in my opinion, every organization can count on their Program Management Office (PMO) to get it done.  I think all organizations need to be thankful for their PMO.  Whether your PMO is made of a single project manager or a large team of professionals, PMO’s make it happen, all the time.

Here is why:

#1: They Keep Your Turkeys in a Row

Infer what you may with what or who the turkey is, but the reality is that your PMO keeps your projects, applications, and resources on track.  They ensure things are working and keep things moving along, progressing, to the desired end result.   They help ensure your initiatives are aligned and well organized to the company’s goals.

#2: Everyday is Black Friday or Cyber Monday

Many of us look for opportunities to save large amounts of money or time on our shopping only once or twice a year.  Your PMO is constantly looking for ways to save your organization money and be more efficient with your resources and budget.  PMOs always keep resource utilization top of mind – going through the analysis and decision making to ensure your team members are firing on all cylinders.

#3: They Keep the Family Full

While most of us worry about having the right amount of food to feed our feisty families, PMOs are consistently thinking about how they can fulfill the needs of their organization.  Whether it is keeping their executives at bay with the right reports and information or it is providing their teams with the project details to stay on-track for completing their milestones, PMOs are in the business of keeping their organizations full of the right information to improve.

#4 They Balance the Needs of All of Their Guests

On Thanksgiving Day, you may have many balancing acts that you need to account for – that relative who refuses to eat turkey, that niece who is allergic to stuffing, or that in-law who hates your cooking. Much like you, PMOs are always balancing the needs of the organization.  On one side they need to roll up reports and data for key initiatives to the management team and on the other side they are working on better executing projects with the team.  In addition to these day-to-day activities, they have to balance the competing needs from different business units and stakeholders.  However, in the end they always make it work.  The organization gets what it needs and the individuals are happy with the oversight and direction they get from the PMO.

#5: They Are Making a List….and Checking It Twice

Many of us are starting to think about holiday plans for December, and we are checking that list twice to make sure we do not forget something – whatever that may be – travel tickets, a sitter for the family pet, or a shopping list for the kids. Much like you, PMOs are planning for next year, forecasting the resource capacity they have to take on new work, determining the incoming request of new work, and most importantly, prioritizing the projects to ensure they are providing maximum value back to the organization.

 

Have a Happy Holiday Season!

Five Keys to Establishing a Successful PMO

What is a PMO?

The basic definition of the PMO in a business or professional enterprise is a permanent organization tasked with one or more of the following objectives:

  • Define and maintain the guidelines, policies, processes, and standard documentation around projects.
  • Encourage and sustain repeatability related to project management.
  • Provide central, coordinated management/oversight into the initiation and strategic planning of projects.
  • Coordinate and develop project management training for continuous organizational improvement.
  • Offer a broad range of services from budgeting, to product management, to direct project leadership, to support functions such as coaching, consulting, and marketing.
  • Support the prioritization of strategic projects to ensure that the organization is working on initiatives aligned with strategic business goals.
  • Provide oversight across the resource pool to support the assignment of resources to the highest prioritized initiatives.

In today’s competitive business environment, more and more organizations are establishing PMOs as a method to create business agility and efficiency and to ensure key executives remain abreast of strategic initiatives within an organization.  Every organization is different, however, there are a few best practices that all organizations can implement to ensure that, when establishing a PMO, they are setting their PMO up for success.

  1. Ensure that you have Support and Involvement from the Right Executives

Often one of the most difficult duties of a new PMO is to establish itself as the de facto authority for any new major project work.  This can be especially difficult to maintain if the PMO is being operated with little organizational support or involvement.  When establishing a PMO it is critical to ensure that C-Level executives are involved and understand the value of establishing a PMO.

 

  1. Focus on Portfolio Planning First

Better planning leads to better execution, and one of the biggest reasons that projects fail is that those projects were poorly planned and scheduled without consideration of the broader portfolio.  Poorly executed projects and a lack of ability to deliver on commitments to key stakeholders will lead to an organizational lack of confidence in the PMO.  A lack of confidence in the ability of the PMO is one of the biggest reasons that PMOs fail.

Resource capacity and demand constraints are often the biggest impediment to scheduling and completing project work and often new PMOs struggle to get visibility into how resources have been allocated across project and non-project work.   It’s often a smart idea to adopt a light weight project portfolio management tool to help with resource capacity and demand planning across key initiatives.

 

  1. Minimize Organizational Change

Too often, when establishing a new PMO, PMO Directors will place a mandate on the organization to track project information at a level of detail so granular that it becomes extremely time-consuming for organizational personnel.  This level of change tends to backfire and many of these resources will reject the PMO outright.

When establishing a PMO it is important to minimize this change and focus on initially establishing and collecting only the project KPIs with the highest value for key executives and stakeholders.  We often recommend starting with just 15 to 20 KPIs per project to limit the amount of maintenance and reporting required by project personnel.  This facilitates adoption of the new PMO, and KPIs can be expanded upon as the organization matures.

 

  1. Think about the Right PMO Structure

There are two basic models of PMOs:

  • One acts in a consulting capacity, providing project managers in business units with training, guidance and best practices.
  • Another acts as a centralized organization for handling all project management activities. Often this type of PMO will have project managers on staff who are loaned out to business units to work on projects.

When building your PMO make a determination about what structure is right for your organization based on input from key stakeholders and organizational objectives.

 

  1. Don’t think of your PMO as a Cost Cutting initiative

Although the consistency and efficiency promoted by a PMO may result in reducing the project workload and better on-time rates…which will save costs, the goal of the PMO should be to ensure that the organization stays focused on executing the projects that will bring the highest value to the organization.

 

To learn more about the value of a creating a PMO check out this whitepaper: Project Management Office: Seeing the Whole Picture.