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.

Life after project completion: Is a project complete without benefits realization?

In our day-to-day project management and PMO activities, the easiest and the most important thing missed is planning ahead for what happens AFTER we cross the finish line. So technically speaking, once project managers hand over the reins of the completed project to the business owner, their job is just half done. For a project to be considered complete, project managers must focus on the other half, which is “Benefits Realization”.

Benefit realization is the confirmation that the value a project was expected to generate really does get delivered.  In our everyday project management lives it is easy to get buried in details around task management, risk mitigation, resource capacity, balancing budgets and all the other moving parts.  We often forget why we set out to do the project in the first place:  the delivery of a product or service, an enhancement or improvement, or a capability.  For example to meet some new regulation, standard or market demand.  But what if, after we deliver the goods, and did exactly what the customer asked for, we realize that all the effort and resources we used to deliver the project don’t amount to what they were supposed to?  That’s exactly what benefits realization is all about.

We’ve all heard of ROI – return on investment.  It is the concept of an investment of some combination of resources (people, money, equipment, etc.) yielding a benefit to the investor.  A high ROI means the investment gains compare favorably to investment cost. As a performance measure, it is one of the best methods to evaluate the efficiency of an investment.  ROI does not exclusively have to be in financial terms.  It can easily be an operational advantage, an improvement in position, or other positive change.  In order to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments we need to compare like measures, which is why a financial ROI is one of the most commonly used.  Unfortunately, without benefits realization, our ROI is simply a guess.  And that is why benefits realization is so important.

I’ve discussed with   many of our clients about this and have found out that there is a need for a wide degree of maturity around the realization process.  This is an indication that while the concept of realization is gaining interest, it is still far from a mature practice.  Which presents a great opportunity for those organizations that are not doing it – now is a great time to implement this practice.

How to launch a benefits realization initiative?

One of the best approaches involves setting goals, tracking against those goals and including a ‘hand-off’ step, similar to the passing of the baton in an Olympic relay race.  Tactical steps you can take include:

  • Set your sights:  using whatever calculation available, combined with experience and validated by results from similar projects, come up with a target for what the value you think the project will deliver.  Set that as the initial estimate.  Enlist the help of a financial leader or controller to help set the original estimates.
  • Continual monitoring:  Using the initial estimates or targets as a first guess, continue to refine the success factors throughout the lifecycle of the project.  These are often called forecasts or committed values and are more accurate than the original estimates.  It is best to continue revising these figures throughout the lifecycle of the project.  The objective here is to have these forecasted numbers eventually match the actuals.
  • Start tracking actuals now:  some project can actually generate benefits even before the project is complete.  What a great win for the project team to be able to report these.
  • Put a plan in place: Add a milestone or stage beyond the Complete step called Close or ‘Realization’ and set a validation step 3, 6 or 12 months after the project is complete.  It sets the expectation that the work is not over at Complete.
  • It is outside of the project manager’s responsibility:  As the project comes closer to its Complete or End date, engage the financial sponsor and the process owner (the person who is benefiting or owning the project’s or product’s outcome, improvement or change) and have them start validating and “owning” the numbers.
  • Go back to the beginning:  how accurate were your original estimates compared with your forecasts and your actuals?  Take those learning and apply them to future estimates.  This is called continual improvement – applying lessons learned and best practices to improve the entire PMO.

One last point is that it isn’t always about the money.  Sometimes projects generate other value, such as an improvement in customer satisfaction, or increase market share by launching a game changing product.  It is important to be able to quantify the value of these types of projects even if they do not generate direct revenue or cost improvements.  Many organizations call these ‘Level 2” or “Indirect Benefits”.

Finally, is a project complete without benefits realization?  To the project manager who’s already run their marathon and marked the project as complete, I expect their answer to be ‘yes’, but common sense tells us otherwise.  As a best practice, one of the most important factors in a projects success isn’t “how we did it” – coming in under schedule or under budget – but “what we did” – that the project delivered what it set out to do.

Optimal Decision-Making: Turning Data into Actionable Information

GUEST POST by Claire Schwartz

In my last post, I wrote about collecting data to provide information for decision-making. There is no question that data is where we begin, but facts are not enough. What we really need is information—a meaningful interpretation and presentation of the data that gives us insight into a condition or situation.

For example, when I manage a project, I collect data about task performance, such as “Task A” started on January 5 and finished on January 12, it took 27 hours of effort and we spent $3000 on travel. Interesting facts, but they really don’t tell me enough to evaluate the task’s performance, its impact on the project, or help me make decisions about the remaining work or cost.

It turns out that “Task A” was scheduled to complete on January 14, making it ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, it isn’t on the critical path, so there’s no impact to the project schedule. We had planned to use 25 hours to complete the work, but even though we were two hours over our plan for the task, we’ve been running significantly below our labor estimates on the work performed to date, and we’re already about halfway to completion. Now for the bad news: the total travel budget for the project is $5000 and we still have two more trips planned. What was supposed to be a one-day trip, costing $1000 for three team members, turned into a three-day trip, costing $3000 because the team got stranded in a Chicago blizzard.

So what makes the second paragraph more useful than the first? In general, the second paragraph tells a complete story that informs, highlights what’s important and clearly identifies the actions or decisions needed. If we further dissect that paragraph, we can see a few specific attributes that make it more meaningful and useful: content, context, contrast and consequence.

Content: In the first paragraph, we know the facts, but the second paragraph takes the time to combine the facts into a story. By adding a little more detail, or content, the reader has a better grasp of “the five W’s”: who, what, where, when and why. Our desire to be brief and direct often results in repeated question-answer cycles, leaving the decision-maker to ferret out the relevant and important information before taking an appropriate action, delaying the process.

Context: While the first paragraph describes the amount of money that was spent on travel, it does nothing to explain the circumstances or context behind the expenditure. By providing the information about the blizzard, the decision-maker better understands why the expenditure was high and in a better position to make an informed decision regarding future travel expenditures.

Contrast: In the first paragraph, we know what date the task finished, but in the second paragraph, we know that it finished late. By including data from the project plan, the second paragraph is able to compare what was supposed to happen with what actually happened. This provides the decision-maker with a much better sense of the problem and apply an appropriate decision.

Consequence: In addition to understanding that a variance exists, we also need to be clear about the impact or consequence of the difference. Sure, the first task took a couple more hours than we had originally planned, but in the overall scheme of things, it really doesn’t require action. The budget variance on the other hand is significant since it pretty much blows our travel budget out of the water.

Turning data into meaningful information to drive a decision isn’t rocket science, but it does require some thought. Next time you put together a report, ask yourself: does this tell the full story? If not, it’s probably just data.

In my next post, I’ll write about presentation in the context of decision-making, including some thoughts on dashboards.