Virtually every PPM vendor gets this response at some stage. I’d like to explain why this comment is often made and how you can ensure that your investment in a PPM tool is not wasted.
First, I do have some sympathy for this project manager complaint if the PPM tool that is being used in merely a web reporting tool. For these types of tools, the project manger is often keying in information into his planning software and then re-keying this information into the web reporting tool. In this situation, the project managers may have a point.
However if we look at a proper PPM tool like PM3 which has real functionality (planning, resource management, portfolio planning, etc), the reason for not wanting to use a PPM tool is less justifiable. In our experience the reasons why a project manager does not want to use a PPM tool are:
The data on project(s) that a project manager is managing is now visible, often in real time, to anyone who has the right level of access. Without a PPM tool, the project manager can control when he or she gives information about the projects to other stakeholders. Some project managers feel threatened when all aspects of their projects are visible to their stakeholders including the PMO, Head of Change and the Sponsor or SRO
The project manager does not understand that the organisation can derive real benefit from having access to up to date project information. This visibility can lead to: terminated projects (not good for the contract project managers), an early intervention when a project is in trouble or a realisation of key dependencies between projects. These are some of the benefits that can be gained when project information is more readily visible and available
So, if we assume that you have implemented a PPM tool that is fit for purpose and not just a web reporting tool, how can you ensure that project managers embrace your PPM tool rather than finding reasons not to use it.
How to get project managers to use your PPM tool
Having implemented PM3 in many organisations, we have found that the following approach is successful in ensuring that project managers embrace their PPM tool.
Include the project managers in the tool selection process so that a PPM tool is not seen as being imposed on the project management community
Develop a ‘compelling need to change’ story. This story should articulate the business case for the PPM tool and outline the key benefits that the organisation will achieve if the PPM tool is used properly
Ensure that the project managers are trained effectively and the PPM vendor has adequate resources to provide ongoing support.
Establish a reporting drumbeat. This was a feature of a previous blog. If the project managers know the weekly, monthly reporting cycle or ‘drumbeat’ as we call it, this helps establish the PPM tool
Communicate: “what’s in it for the Project Manager” There are numerous benefits that a project manager can get from using a PPM tool properly. For example, one of these benefits is that the project manager will no longer need to produce ad-hoc reports. If you use a PPM tool like PM3, all the reports can be generated automatically without asking the project manager. This benefit in itself can be enough to persuade sceptical project managers why they should use the PPM tool
One version of the truth means that all project data is held in one place and not in disparate sources. This in itself is more efficient and ensures that project information is more reliable and up to date
Change Management and PPM
A PPM tool can be a big investment for any organisation and it is important that this investment has a good payback and the money is not wasted. This is why some of the change management activities listed above are not one-off initiatives but should be repeated to ensure that the project managers continue to use the PPM tool so that your organisation continues to benefit from the PPM investment.