The phrase ‘small is beautiful’ may have been coined by the economist Schumacher but it can easily be applied to the world of project and portfolio management.
It always surprises me how many organisations have a PPM tool in place yet struggle to extract even the most rudimentary of portfolio reports. As a result, they often resort to compiling reports manually in PowerPoint. The irony is that when we dig a bit deeper we often find that they have invested in one of the bigger tools that does everything bar make toast.
Although the big project management solutions may initially appear very attractive as they offer all of the functionality that you may ever want or wish for, they should be approached with caution.
There are a number of downsides. Firstly, they take ages to implement – despite what the salesman says and secondly, the level of functionality makes them so complicated they can be just too difficult to use. In reality, few people fully understand these products; medium term costs for managing such systems are hard to quantify and they are often massively under-used. As a result they often end up becoming just an extremely expensive timesheet system. Any thoughts of using these expensive project management tools to actually help govern a project go out the window.
A far better option is to adopt the 80:20 rule. Pick a product that does only 80 per cent of what you need it to and the chances are it will be much cheaper, quicker to implement and actually be used. The extra 20% is usually the nice to have that no one actually uses.
A number of our clients have recently asked us to replace some of these monster PPM tools with our fit for purpose PM3 project management software usually for the reasons outlined above.
So if you are embarking on a PPM tool selection process then remember ‘small is beautiful’! You could save yourself a lot of time, money and heartache.