Daptiv Is Now Changepoint!

ChangepointToday I am very excited to announce that Daptiv will be joining Changepoint to bring unmatched project portfolio management (PPM) and professional services automation (PSA) solutions to the market. Changepoint has acquired Daptiv as a very strategic step in building a strong future for the new combined
company that will truly benefit the customers, employees, and partners of both organizations.

For those unfamiliar with Changepoint, it is a Toronto-based based company that provides on-premise and hosted PSA and PPM solutions to businesses around the world. Like Daptiv, Changepoint is a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader, but the solutions serve different markets within the space and together create a highly robust, complementary and non-competitive portfolio of world-class PSA and PPM solutions.

Now that the acquisition has been announced, I want to assure you that none of the Daptiv products and services you’ve come to know will skip a beat. It will be business as usual and all services will be supported throughout and beyond this acquisition. This acquisition creates a broader portfolio of world-class solutions, making Changepoint the only company to have recognized market leading solutions in both PSA and PPM with complete customer delivery flexibility, including on-premise, hosted, and pure SaaS. 

This is great news for Daptiv customers…

  • Changepoint’s acquisition of Daptiv is focused on investing in and growing the business to continue to provide customer value.  This new organization will be stronger and better positioned to innovate and lead in the industry.
  • Our customers are critically important to us. We greatly value your business and will work hard to make sure the transition is seamless and the acquisition creates added customer value.
  • We will continue to fully support, maintain and invest in both the Changepoint and Daptiv solutions.  We know many of you are currently deploying and/or expanding Daptiv and we will work hard to ensure your businesses see positive near and long-term benefits from this acquisition.
  • Finally, we will keep the lines of communication open and make every effort to answer all of your questions. We will make sure your account managers and our executives are available for you to answer any questions you might have.

We look forward to working with our now vastly expanded customer community to find new ways to encourage communication and sharing of ideas, best practices and product direction. The quality and breadth of services you’ll have access to will only expand with this acquisition.

You can follow us through this acquisition on Twitter to learn more about additional benefits in the coming days (@Daptiv, and @_Changepoint). For more information please view the official press release here and a letter from Jim Byrnes, president and CEO of Changepoint here.

Insights and Trends: Current Project Portfolio Management Adoption Practices

In order to stay competitive, today’s top management is confronted with the critical task of analyzing and improving the ability of an organization to change, survive, and grow in this complex and changing global economy.

Organizations have thus been moving from operations and business as usual, to implementing change through project management as part of their competitive strategy. The ability to successfully execute projects is what drives the realization of intended benefits and the achievement of business objectives.

Organizations that execute projects successfully employ effective Project Portfolio Management (PPM) practices as a tool to manage and drive change. Given the strategic impact that projects have on business, organizations must follow effective PPM processes that capitalize on innovation; measure progress, value, and risks; and confirm that the right projects can be delivered in alignment with organizational strategy

We at Daptiv conducted a survey to examine the challenges faced by today’s businesses now that increased scrutiny over budgets (aka “doing more with less”), efficiency and effectiveness are key factors of successful organizations. The survey’s main objective was to identify current trends in PPM, and pinpoint the characteristics of PPM that are applied in higher-performing organizations. This survey was conducted among 300 project managers and senior executives attending the PMXPO Conference. Some of the key inferences from the survey were:

Why do product managers and senior executives take on PPM and implement software to support it? According to our survey, their top reasons (in order) are prioritizing projects, gaining visibility into live projects, planning and preparing for future projects, and managing cost and resources. A whopping 62% answered “all of the above”. This makes obvious that PPM is providing a lot more value than simply improving project execution.

Assessing the current adoption of Project Portfolio Management across sectors, the survey revealed that 64 percent of the respondents use PPM tools to manage their general IT projects while the remaining respondents deployed PPM solutions for compliance, product development, training and mobile related projects.

While establishing and communicating projects goals to the project management team can assist in the identification of project risks and constraints that may impede the achievement of those departmental goals, limiting the scope of project portfolio management tools within an organization can have rippling side-effects in the overall achievement of organizational goals.  According to PMI’s 2012 Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report: Portfolio Management Report, the majority of portfolio managers in highly effective organizations spend 75 percent or more of their time on portfolio management. The report further indicates that in organizations where managers focus on strategic as well as departmental goals, 70 percent of projects meet or exceed their forecasted ROI, compared to 50 percent at organizations where managers rarely focus on strategic goals.

Another interesting fact that came from the survey was that 76 percent of the respondents still use homegrown spreadsheets internally to manage projects in some capacity. Since 55 percent of respondents have more than 1,000 employees, this can easily lead to PPM data integrity issues and ponderously slow feedback loops. Definitely not a path that enables firms to pivot with rapidly changing business conditions. Moreover, from our experience this manual approach significantly impacts project performance. Today’s organizations need to see and trust information as it develops to make decisions that will help them outpace their competition.

While the BYOD movement is taking corporations by storm, our survey found that nearly 75 percent of respondents are not applying PPM techniques or software to their rollouts of smartphones and tablets.  IDC  recently forecasted that by 2017, total PCs are expected to drop to 13 percent, while tablets and smartphones will contribute 16.5 percent and 70.5 percent respectively. Considering the BYOD trend is only going to gain momentum in the near future, IT needs to get on the bandwagon and start actively managing this effort. Such forward-thinking strategic project planning transforms organizations from defensive and reactive to proactive and dynamic.

One of the key qualifications of a project is that it has a definite start and a definite end, though “ending” a project with a proper close-out process would appear to be an after-thought. Our survey revealed that 24 percent of the respondents do not conduct project reviews at all. That is a big number considering that of those who do, only 15 percent find they are meeting their project targets. The very last part of the project life-cycle it is often ignored even by large organizations, especially when they operate in multi-project environments. When the project is delivered, the closeout phase must be executed as planned. It plays a crucial role in sponsor satisfaction since it can create a lasting impression.

These findings are consistent with what we’ve experienced in our PPM consulting engagements. For many businesses, elements of PPM may already exist, but in non-linear and disjointed fragments. The most important factor in the success of PPM is aligning the portfolio with organizational strategy. The positive effects of strategic alignment lead to higher levels of project and portfolio performance, and increases stakeholder satisfaction with their organization’s project portfolio management practices at all levels of portfolio scale and complexity.

To know about the survey results, click here.

Understanding the Concept of Strategic, Tactical and Operational Resource Management

In a recently conducted survey by Daptiv, it was revealed that resource management is the top business challenge for most senior executives. Nearly 67 percent of senior executives surveyed identified prioritizing work to fit available resource capacity as their biggest business challenge. Despite the key role of strategic alignment, many organizations leave their managers mired in a myopic view when it comes to resource management.

Hence, when we look at resource management activities in Project Portfolio Management (PPM), I believe that there isn’t a single / linear approach to manage the resource management process.  In fact, resource management in its essence is hierarchical; there are three views wherein the strategic lens drives the tactical lens, which in-turn drives the operational lens. Therefore, resource management is best explained through the following framework.

Strategic Resource Management

What is it?

Strategic resource management focuses on resource demand at a macro level. A level where portfolios are defined and budgets are committed to. This is usually done at the executive level in an organization. Executive teams should be looking at various Run, Grow, and Transform initiatives trying to determine what investments are going to allow the organization to achieve their defined goals and objectives.  In most organizations decisions are made on the budget/portfolio and no consideration is ever given to the resource impact on the organizations responsible for implementing the portfolio has. Organizations ignore resource impact until they are ready to execute on the initiatives – this is tactical or operational thinking, not strategic.

Strategic resource management is about understanding the impact of resource commitments needed for the initiatives to succeed.

Why is it required?

Strategic resource management is fundamental to organizational alignment.  If the executives in an organization need to see results from various initiatives they have authorized, then they must make sure that capacity needs are addressed and available  to make things happen.  If there is no organizational alignment, it doesn’t matter how good the strategy is, it will fail due to poor execution.

How is it done?

  1. Understand true capacity – Key to this is making sure there is a clear delineation between project time, non-project time, and non-working time so that true capacity [net & gross] is understood.
  2. Project Time – The planned, forecasted and actual time to complete project deliverables – this could be either at the task level or if your organization is not ready for task level management, then project level at a minimum.
  3. Non-project Time – This is effort that can’t be categorized into a project , but is a classification of time like admin and other business-as-usual effort. It is important to track non-project time to get that complete picture of capacity. Besides, it is really difficult to predict true capacity without knowledge of the amount of non-project effort that is actually happening. As a side note, after a while you’ll be delighted to actually uncover that what is classified as non-project effort is actually related to a project.
  4. Non-working Time – Again – complete capacity – we need all time including vacation, jury duty, sick time, etc. It is also important to define the “splits” of project time vs. non-project time. Some organizations use the 80/20 rule; 80% non-project time, 20% project time.  You really need to identify and set aside the plan for non-project work. Analysis of planned non-project time provides a deeper understanding of actual non-project time and available project time.
    1. Align resources to resource types – Although our inclination is to go directly to a named resource.  The goal is to align like resources to a “resource type” or resource classification. This makes the task of understanding capacity much easier and the identification of additional headcount requirements controllable.
    2. Forecasting Strategy – An organization also needs a good forecasting strategy for project and non-project activities, to insure the forecasts, are always accurate.
    3. Portfolio strategy – A good portfolio strategy will align to the business drivers and allow the organization to categorize various initiatives as Run, Grow, and Transform for example.
    4. Governance – Simply prioritizing once a year is not sufficient, initiatives pop up all year and decisions on how to act on those requests need to be put in context with the rest of the portfolio to ensure optimum return.
    5. Time sequencing of resource demand – This is the critical part. At the investment/project level and for each resource type, identify the requirement hours for each resource on a weekly or monthly dimension for the length of the project.
    6. Identify strategic demand – With resource demand now identified to the project and the list of proposed projects for the portfolio, you can analyze strategic demand from the true capacity in step 1 whilst analyzing resource demand from steps 2 and 6.

What are its benefits?

The organization as a whole will be in alignment with what needs to be executed, how it should be done and who needs to do it.  The mid-level managers will be empowered to make the right staffing decisions.

Tactical Resource Management

What is it?

Tactical resource management is about understanding project relationships and dependencies and “slotting” the projects to start when resource availability is aligned with project requirements.  At this point you are looking at roles and not individuals.  If your organization has a Project Management Office, then this activity is conducted by the PMO in coordination with the various project sponsors (usually Line of Business executives), and resource managers.  If your organization doesn’t have a PMO, then this needs to be done by a VP of Strategic Planning in coordination with the project sponsors, and resource managers.

Why is it required?

Aligning resources to work on the right project at the right time is the key to getting projects off the ground and running, and this needs advanced planning to make sure there are no resource shortages or contentions.

How is it done?

  1. Resources need to be aligned into like resource types (as prescribed in Step 2 of Strategic Resource Management), preferably assigned to a resource manager(s).
  2. Project owners/managers are responsible for forecasting the resource demand (resource types) on projects. This is critical in maintain capacity knowledge.
  3. It is not only critical that the resource manager maintains project demand, but also that resources keep the resource manager informed on non-project and non-working events in order to maintain accurate capacity forecast.
  4. It is generally a good idea, if not best practice, to have periodic resourcing meetings to review resource and portfolio demand. Decisions from this meeting inform the resource manager on the steps required to fulfill demand.
  5. It is the resource manager’s “role” that is responsible for maintaining the right staffing levels for the resource type and for evaluating the correct “slot” to fit resources to projects.
  6. Finally, the ongoing analysis of the headcount delta required to execute the portfolio and available capacity will dictate your staffing/hiring needs.

What are its benefits?

The project sponsors have a higher level of confidence on when their projects will be executed. Resource Managers are involved early in the planning process to create a staffing plan to meet the needs of the sponsors. There is a higher level of accountability on the resource managers to deliver the resources when needed.

Operational Resource Management

What is it?

Operational resource management mainly deals with creating a staffing plan at the project level in consultation with the resource manager and working with the project staff to meet project deadlines. This is primarily done by the project manager of the project.

Why is it required?

Operational resource management is where the rubber meets the road.  Having the right people to work on the right tasks at the right time is paramount to successful project execution.  Failing to do so will lead to cost overruns and delays.

How is it done?

  1. Up to this point we’ve only looked at resources from a forecasting perspective. Now we need to translate that forecast into a plan.
  2. The project manager validates scope, and builds a project plan (work breakdown structure or WBS). He then creates /updates the resources forecast, and make resource requests to build the resource plan.
  3. Once the resource request(s) are fulfilled, then the project manager simply assigns the named resource to the tasks.

When executed properly, resources are updating time in their timesheets and submitting for approval, thus providing the feedback loop to the resource and project management processes.

What are its benefits?

Resources will be available and ready to perform tasks as and when needed.  The project manager can focus on project deliverables rather than scrambling to find people to staff the project.

Employees are the most valuable asset and the biggest expense for most organizations. The ability to deploy employees effectively against often conflicting projects and other work priorities enables organizations to optimize their return on human resource investments. In conclusion, having a hierarchical approach to resource management enables any organization to share unified information across the enterprise so that they can make smarter business decisions across all levels.

The Role of the Resource Manager

When we think about resource management, we tend to think about how it impacts projects and the project portfolio.  After all, if we don’t have the resources to execute work, our projects don’t get done.  What we sometimes forget is that resource management and the role of the resource manager goes far beyond assigning people to projects.

So what is a resource manager and what do they do?  Anyone who manages people is a resource manager.  It is the resource manager who  is responsible for ensuring that their organization has the right people with the right skills available at the right time to accomplish the work that needs to be done.  In addition to managing people, a resource manager frequently has functional responsibilities in the enterprise; he or she is responsible for running a group that may provide resources to projects, but may have day-to-day operational responsibilities as well.

The successful resource manager is someone with the ability to do a number of things well.  Obviously, they need to have top-notch people skills and be able to effectively set and articulate performance goals and standards.  They need to be able to evaluate individual performance against those goals and provide meaningful and constructive feedback to the people that they manage.  They also need to be mindful of team dynamics (the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals in the team and how they interact with one another), resolving issues or conflicts and supporting team morale.

The effective resource manager is also adept at managing a limited supply of resources against constantly changing demand.  This requires a good view of what is coming up and creating short-, mid- and long-term resource plans:

Long-Term Planning is taking a longer view of resource demand that is anticipated for six, eight, ten months out, or beyond.  In the long-term plan, the resource manager is not planning an individual’s time against specific tasks, but rather looking at general roles, skills and/or the locations of resources needed against general categories of demand (ongoing operational work vs. strategic projects, etc) using forecasts based on historical data or trends.   The long-term plan gives the resource manager the ability to anticipate resource needs and proactively plan for staff acquisition, training or other activities that typically have longer lead times or may represent their own drain on resource capacity.

Mid-term planning focuses on the next one month to six months and identifies commitments for a specific type of resource or even an individual.  But typically the mid-term plan represents these commitments as a level of effort as opposed to a specific date or time.  For example we may identify that we need an engineer for about 30 hours over 2 months for a specific project – not that the engineer will work for 10 hours on a specific task in a specific week.  The benefit of the mid-term plan is that it can be more accurate and provide more detail than the long-term plan, but is not subject to constant adjustment.

In the Short-term plan, the resource manager can look out a limited amount of time at specific task assignments – either for projects or ongoing work.  The short term plan then provides the information needed to make last minute adjustments due to emerging priorities, schedule changes, scope changes, or changes in the available resource pool due to illness, resignations or reassignments.  Because the short-term plan focuses on a limited timeframe it can be more precise than the long- or mid-term plans since we have a higher level of confidence in what is going to happen.

As a part of planning, the resource manager needs to be aware of the changing needs and priorities of the enterprise to ensure that the resources available to do the work have the requisite time and skills to do the work.  This means that the resource manager needs to understand the skills and interests of the team, and make sure that those skills are being developed to meet both current and future needs of the organization.  Changing business strategies, technologies, regulations and a plethora of other factors can all require significant changes in job responsibilities and the skills needed.  The best resource managers will follow developments across the enterprise, their discipline and in their industries to anticipate and prepare for these changes.

Last, but not least, getting the right things done is more important than working on everything and getting nothing done.  The best resource managers understand both the strategic and tactical priorities for their organization and communicate these clearly and consistently to their teams.  Likewise, they set realistic expectations for people outside of their team regarding delivery dates and standards – and they are able to say ‘no’ when appropriate.

While the scope of responsibilities for a resource manager may vary from enterprise to enterprise there is no question that the resource manager controls a most valuable asset – people.  Applying the skills and talents of that asset to provide the most value to the organization requires understanding and setting priorities, looking to the future to develop capabilities and capacity, and proactively working with the individuals and the team to develop skills and cohesion.

The Future of Project Portfolio Management – Perspectives from the Gartner PPM Summit

Gartner gave us an interesting look into the future of PPM this week, and projects as we know them may be left behind. I’ve been wondering about this for some time, as the pace of business continues to accelerate and business changes – represented by projects – are called on to deliver results faster and more frequently. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let’s rewind from projects back up the business stack for a clearer view. Gartner did this nicely from their opening keynote through their multitude of breakout sessions – many of which were standing room only. In this note I can only summarize the model, but I will delve more deeply into each area in future posts.

First, we must remember why we execute projects – to implement change in the business. Be it incremental improvements in efficiencies enabled by minor software enhancements, or transformational change in the form of a merger – projects have been our vehicle. Gartner rightly points out that the pace of this change is accelerating to the point where it is almost constant. Can the old annual planning cycles and waterfall projects really keep up with this pace?

Most projects today involve changes to some application system, as IT has become thoroughly embedded in most modern enterprises.  Techniques like Agile can continuously release improvements to these applications, taking in ideas for change and working them into a continuously prioritized stream of stories. And these stories – which represent useful business changes – can be released frequently. We are now talking weeks or months to roll out changes to applications, instead of years.

How to manage all those applications? Enter Application Portfolio Management. Much like managing a portfolio of projects, APM rationalizes and prioritizes applications. Andy Kyte (VP & Gartner Fellow) gave a dynamic presentation on APM for Executives that boiled this concept down to some simple truths. He reminded us that applications are really means to an end – business value. Using that as the goal enables us to make decisions not only about which apps should stay and which should go, but where they should reside. Do we really need all those systems in house, or would a SaaS or even a BPO model provide the desired business outcomes more efficiently?

This brings us to the top of the stack – business value. IT systems do not in and of themselves provide any value at all. So what does IT really provide? Business Capabilities! And here Gartner sounded an interesting new theme. Instead of seeing capabilities as just part of the EA stack, consider these like products. A SaaS shop like Daptiv, of course, delivers PPM capabilities as a product – and we see it that way. IT shops should consider that they are really delivering products like Purchasing Management, Workforce Management, and Strategic Sourcing. Viewing these as products allows IT to focus their efforts on delivering business value rather than just technology.

So now we see the full model being proposed by Gartner. It really uses some tried and true techniques from Enterprise Architecture and adds a few twists. We start with business capabilities at the top, which are now enabled by IT products – apps and supporting infrastructure to enable those capabilities. And we move away from simple application and project management to product management. And now that we have products to support, we implement a continuous change cycle – such as Agile – to ensure changes to the business outcome driven capabilities are implemented quickly and frequently.

The current pace of business is such that the old model has lost its usefulness and would leave us eating someone else’s competitive dust.