One of the things we see repeatedly across our customer base is the baseline attempt to manage portfolios using spreadsheets. It can be any kind of portfolio – Operational Excellence, NPD, M&A or Capital Projects. The natural first step in many organizations is to throw a list of projects into a spreadsheet and then try to understand status and priorities from there. While this method provides a great way of acting upon the initial challenge, it quickly becomes difficult to manage as organizations try to establish effective Project Portfolio Management (PPM) processes.
There are two types of costs to manually managing PPM processes rather than using an enterprise portfolio management software solution:
- Productivity cost of manual effort to collect and compile snapshots into meaningful analysis
- Opportunity cost of managing business impact (mitigating negative impact or accelerating positive impact)
The more disconnected PPM teams are from information either in time or in cross-functional accessibility the more likely it is the business ecosystem will struggle to perform. This in turn generates frustration not only for the business itself but the people who are part of your PPM teams. Each stakeholder in a typical PPM process struggles to assemble data into information in a timely fashion. Stakeholders include Portfolio Managers, Project and Program managers, Project Team Members and Resource Managers.
Manually managing PPM processes in spreadsheets consumes significant productivity hours on a weekly basis. Consider the basic tasks in the sub-discipline of Project Planning and Management such as project planning, tracking, and coordination, across scope, schedule, resources and budget; managing this–as you can imagine–is quite time intensive. Similarly, for Resource Planning and Management, evaluating overall capacity, assigning people to projects, assignment of equipment to projects, reacting to delays and increased demand due to new knowledge requires focused diligence and data. When using spreadsheets, Senior Project/Program Managers, Resource Managers, Financial Managers and Portfolio Managers spend a significant portion of their time manually aggregating data for budgeting and forecasting. Most organizations prepare for portfolio reviews periodically–the frequency of which depends upon the amount of time to gather the data. Invariably, the data is stale by the time the review occurs, which often leads to decisions made with less ideal emphasis and with less frequency, which might otherwise benefit the business.
Imagine if this time were instead refocused on analysis of pre-compiled information and elevating PPM players to more strategic management conversations. Think about it – if you as a program manager, project manager, resource manager, financial manager or portfolio manager spend hours a week compiling information and producing reports that is hours every week that you are not focused on problem solving, just managing information.
A spreadsheet can provide a good onetime snapshot; but keeping it up to date daily becomes a challenging exercise. Dates shift, resource commitments shift, strategic, tactical and financial priorities shift. Spreadsheets fail when it comes to reacting quickly to real-time business ecosystems. In turn, PPM players cannot react to advance indication of an ecosystem tipping out of balance whether it is a key project that looks like it’s moving well ahead of track of directionally progressing off track based on leading indicators.
As we have realized the shortfalls of using excel, instead of using spreadsheet we should go for a good Project Portfolio Management software solution. It automates the project process, improving project profitability and reducing project execution time. It helps your organisation overcome the challenges like lack of visibility in projects status, resource utilization, revenue leakages and quality delivery, elevating your PPM process enablement beyond where it is today and reducing the amount of time spent manually managing stale information.