What’s So Bad About Spreadsheets?

Daptiv’s Dave Blumhorst Divulges their Hidden Downsides on Wired.com 

One of the most widely used tools for project management in software teams today is the spreadsheet. They are ubiquitous and heavily relied on by many organizations to manage data and make critical business decisions. Because spreadsheets are easy to use they may appear, at first glance, to be an excellent tool for independent analysis. However, the perception of the ease-of-use of spreadsheets is to some extent an illusion. As any project manager will tell you, they are often stretched far beyond the boundaries of their functionality. With limited scalability and reliability, they are also constrained by an organization’s ability to invest in additional technology capabilities to improve their trustworthiness.

Although fairly cheap and easy to use, spreadsheets can’t often be trusted as they are extremely vulnerable to errors. Recent research found most of the spreadsheets used by organizations contain errors—and that a considerable number of those errors are serious. It may be easy to get an answer from a spreadsheet; however, it is not necessarily easy to get the right answer. Particularly if you factor in potential human data entry errors, spreadsheets can often do more harm than good. These hidden problems can hinder the success of a project and create more costs than were initially budgeted.

Daptiv’s Dave Blumhorst recently discussed the nine inherent flaws of spreadsheets, and how they’re hampering the success of PPM professionals today on Wired’s Innovation Insights. To get a better understanding of how businesses can embrace alternative technologies to avoid spreadsheet limitations, you can read Dave’s entire piece on Wired.com.

We would also like to hear about your experiences using spreadsheets. Have you run into issues using spreadsheets to manage projects in your workplace? If so, what types of problems have you faced and what solutions have you found to alleviate them? Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to us on Twitter at @Daptiv with the hashtag #SpreadSheetFailure

Daptiv Named as Finalist in 2014 Golden Bridge Awards

Winners will be Announced at the 6th Annual Awards Gala in San Francisco on September 8

We’re delighted to reveal that this week Daptiv was named as a finalist in the 2014 Golden Bridge Awards in the Innovations – Enterprise Management category. These coveted annual honors go to the world’s best from every major industry in the world. Daptiv was selected specifically for our new Organizational Change Management (OCM) services practice, which supplements our leading PPM solution.

The need for OCM inclusion in PPM practices signals a shift in the responsibilities demanded of today’s PMO. Gartner predicts that by 2016, successful transformation program leaders will direct 60 percent of the budget to organizational/business process change activities. Much of this responsibility is already falling within the confines of the PMO, requiring even greater alignment and the ability to work collaboratively and synergistically. We recognize securing sufficient organizational change management resources is top of mind for PPM professionals.

Backed by Daptiv’s 17 years of Project Portfolio Management (PPM) expertise, our OCM practice focuses primarily on the critical aspects of change management, which helps our customers better prepare their employees for project implementation. Organizational Change Management (OCM) allows them to more successfully identify, plan, and manage the changes associated with their new technology implementations and deployments. By offering PPM professionals the experienced and dedicated change management support they need, Daptiv’s OCM provides the tools necessary to diminish project risk associated with lack of adoption; the number one cause of new technology project failure.

We will promptly alert you from our Twitter handle @Daptiv if we are an official winner when they are announced at the 6th Annual Awards gala in San Francisco on September 8. Meanwhile, to learn more about Daptiv’s OCM practice take a look at our full press release. You can also find a full list of 2014 Golden Bridge Awards finalists at GoldenBridgeAwards.com

10 Ways to Absolutely Ruin your Projects

Instead of providing a list on how to successfully run a project management office, I chose a different route and set out to assemble a list of valuable information that guarantees project failure under any given circumstance. If you are a project manager or run a PMO, the recommendations you will read below are full of promise and will definitely get you into trouble.  With that in mind, here are…

10 Ways to Absolutely Ruin your Projects

  1. Start a project without a defined goal or objective:  Like a ship without a destination or a race without a finish line, starting a project without a goal is an exercise in running in circles.  No matter how much time, effort or money you through behind it, you’ll never accomplish what you set out to do because it was never clearly defined.  Then again, it’s also a great way to stay out of trouble because you’ll never know when your project is ‘moving sideways’.
  2. Run a project that is not aligned with the company’s objectives:  I know ‘mobile tech’ is really cool.  So is ‘social media’.  So let’s kick off a project to do that.  Wait a minute.  Did we ever check with our customers – both internal and external – if this is what they are asking for?   Do we know if this project help move the company’s goals forward?  I don’t know, but let’s call it “Rogue Project” because it sounds so cool.
  3. Manage a project that does not have a sponsor’s support:  Like a football quarterback without his offensive line, running a project without a sponsor to provide direction, remove obstacles, and ensure support to move the project forward is a great idea.  Please let us know how that works out for you, OK?
  4. Make a project more complex just for complexity’s sake:  If two levels down into the work breakdown structure is good, six levels is great.  It’ll show people how much more smart and experienced you are than them.  If you can do this effectively, it leads to…
  5. Micromanage your team, especially the senior level people:  Which studies show is a great way to lose supporters. Really fast.
  6. Don’t consider the benefits or ROI before you kick off the project:  Project benefits are so hard to define.  And who knows if we’re ever going to achieve them anyway.  So let’s not worry about it.  Just give me that bag of money so I can start my project already.  It’s not about value after all – it’s about working with cool technology.
  7. Recreate the wheel when starting a project:  I know my organization has done something like this before, but I’m really, really smart and don’t need the help.  I’m happy to start all the deliverables from scratch.  Or maybe this time I’ll just make up a new methodology.  Why recycle and reuse when I can just recreate?
  8. Allow your project’s scope to change on a whim:  if we don’t have a good change control process it makes the project easier.  If we learn new things, let’s quickly move in that direction.  We can call it ‘iterative execution’.  Just like a new puppy deciding if he wants to chase a ball, bark at the other dogs or have a snack.
  9. Don’t check in with the stakeholders or customer through the lifecycle of the project:  we already understand what they want, so bringing in them back in as we move through the project will only give them a chance to get more engaged and supportive.  Nah…let’s just surprise them at the end.
  10. Spend, spend, spend:  Don’t worry about budgets – they’re just rough estimates, anyway.  If we need to get more developers and fly the team out to Las Vegas for a workshop, so be it.  By the time the financial team finds out it will be too late anyway.

Hopefully the list above is taken as a cautionary tale – maybe even a checklist of what not to do.  How do you stack up against it?

Project Management Process and Tools Can’t Be Too “Big” for Small Projects

While browsing through the latest edition of PM Insider*, a newsletter from ProjectManagement.com, the following question and correspondence caught my eye.


I have a short project coming up that seems too simple to need to go through all the usual processes. Is there a quick way to ensure that the project plans are baselined and tracked in my automated software? My boss will still want(s) effort, schedule and cost captured and reported and the usual PMI processes honored?

 Provided Answer:

A. Collect cost receipts in a manila folder and ask team members to write down the time they spend on each task. You can figure out a report at the end.
B. Go through all of the steps, including your automated software files, just as you usually do. Short projects should be planned, documented and archived exactly as longer ones.
C. Use a quick plan with lighter documentation, but involve your team in close communication on a daily basis.
D. Pull a similar electronic project file from your archives and change its name to the name of this project. Submit this disguised project at the end.

This is a great question and evidence of an endemic issue for many project management professionals, which is really – my project management process and “automated software,” be it PPM or something lighter, is clunky or actually “not automated enough” so it’s a hassle and feels like a waste of time to go through and use for “minor projects.”

I concur with the sentiment of the answer provided that if the project – major or minor – is worth doing, then it’s worth tracking, which means the investments you’ve made in project management processes and tools should be leveraged to do so. And if those tools and/or processes make it overly cumbersome or time-consuming to do this for minor projects, then the process and/or tool(s) should be adapted to accommodate managing smaller projects easier.

A 200 hour departmental project should be easier to manage than a 20,000 hour enterprise project. That’s intuitive enough, but not always the case when processes and tools have been designed and implemented to manage, track and measure high investment projects. If employing the same processes and tools to manage and track smaller projects makes it unnecessarily complex and time consuming, is it really worth it?

Hello rogue projects.

Hello bad habits.

Hello failed investments in project management process and tools.

Processes and tools should be flexible to accommodate this delineation without sacrificing management capabilities or tracking requirements. If it’s too much work, it probably won’t be done if the perceived value/return of using the process/tools doesn’t correlate with the scope of work or time required to manage a seemingly minor project.


*ProjectManagement.com Newsletter 12/4/2013

BioBridge Global Gets Competitive Edge with Daptiv’s PPM Solutions

We are excited to announce that with the help of Daptiv’s innovative PPM solutions, BioBridge Global (BBG) was successful in aligning its multiple business lines, streamlining complex processes and standardizing projects across the organization. BBG is a non-profit company that oversees and supports the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, QualTex Laboratories, GenCure, and The Blood and Tissue Center Foundation.

For an organization catering to a highly regulated industry, the road to smooth planning and execution needed a lot more than just a PMO. Operating in the heavily regulated Healthcare industry with changing government strategy, policies, and meeting multiple audit requirements, BioBridge Global was in need for a dynamic project portfolio management (PPM) tool that would help them keep up with changing requirements at the project level without adding excessive time and cost.

In collaboration with Daptiv, BioBridge Global created several custom applications using Daptiv’s Dynamic Applications, including a report-building scorecard and applications that provided visibility and cost/benefit analysis. Daptiv’s report building mechanism enabled BBG’s governance committee to take critical business decisions as it grew its business operations across the state. Additionally, Daptiv’s insight has helped BBG determine a project’s fit in supporting the overall business by identifying costs, potential risks, resource issues and more before a decision is made to green light a project.

To know more about the announcement, click here.