How to Find A Good PPM Tool

As IT leaders and PMOs, project management is a part of everyday life. The flagship projects are the ones that most people within an organization tend to hear about – the ones that are led by IT and managed through a project management office (PMO). They use formal approaches like Agile or Waterfall and are built with a complex infrastructure. However, those represent only a portion of the projects that an organization undertakes. And in most organizations, those same project resources are also working on tickets and incidents. To properly manage resources and have a 360 view into projects and workloads, you need a good Project Portfolio Management (PPM) tool.

Without a proper PPM tool, your organization can suffer from low project management maturity leading to a number of issues that can cause a project to fail – things like:

  • Poor planning
  • Inability to adapt
  • The scope of the project changes
  • Resources were insufficient

So how can you best leverage the dollars allocated to implementing and supporting innovative and mission-critical technology most effectively? You can make sure you’re using a robust and unified PPM tool to ensure your organization is prepared to adapt and manage anything that comes up.

A quality PPM tool has the following functionalities that will unlock your organization’s ability to get things done, come in under budget, assign work, manage bottlenecks, and ensure deadlines are met.

Tracking with a PPM Tool

No organization or department can afford to focus on only one or two things at a time. They have their regular workloads to manage, they have several different projects in the works, and they are supporting project work from other business areas. Keeping track of this work accurately is critical to preventing issues and keeping everything on track.

The ability to track and manage resources across a portfolio of projects is critical. From simple tracking of how much time is being spent on tickets, incidents, or a project; to understanding whether you have enough people, and enough skills, to complete the planned work – resource management is fundamental to effective service and project delivery.

The base unit of resource management is time tracking: The ability to accurately capture, easily and consistently, who is doing what and how much time is being spent on each task.

Time tracking is about understanding the accuracy of work estimates, identifying areas where more people are needed, establishing when people will be available to work on something else, etc. This information forms the foundation of how organizations understand the work they have underway, and the work they have the capacity to deliver in the future.

Gauging Resources

In a recent TDX market study, 78% of IT organizations identified their top challenge as resource constraints. When you evaluate a PPM tool, there are a few key areas that will help you gain efficiencies. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Does your tool or platform offer a self-service portal that your end users can leverage when they have questions? They should be able to easily look up answers and submit tickets through one highly indexed knowledge base.
  2. Do you allow for Knowledge-Centered Service? Your end-users should be able to comment on the articles in your knowledge base and submit additions to help others who have similar questions or issues. ​
  3. Are you engaged in proper change management? Did you know poor planning when rolling out updates or new software can account for up to 80% of your tickets? Make sure you’re properly planning within your tool or platform.
  4. Are you using a single platform? When you bring tickets, incidents, problems and projects into one platform you can better manage resources and become more efficient. A single platform approach for both IT Service Management (ITSM) and PPM will give you the 360-view needed to be the most effective and efficient.
  5. Are you able to engage in resource capacity planning? With resource capacity planning, you can get a big-picture view across your entire IT organization which, in turn, enables you to balance workloads.

A Portfolio Approach

Whether you are assigning resources to a specific request or to specific steps within a project plan, hours still need to be allocated and tracked. If you do this in two different places, you will never have a single view of all resources or a clear view of projects across your organization.

You need to be prioritizing, tracking, allocating, and modeling across a portfolio of projects.

Look for a PPM tool that has the following:

  • Support for all project methods: Waterfall, Agile, Kanban, Card Wall, and basic task lists.
  • Is flexible enough to manage projects for IT, facilities, marketing, HR, and more.
  • Allows you to institute workflows to ensure that steps are moved along as planned.
  • Makes it easy to conduct in-depth resource capacity planning analysis.
  • Let’s you engage in budget planning and time tracking for better outcomes.
  • Allows for what-if planning scenario mapping.
  • Manages project documents in a centralized storage repository.

Make Data-Driven Decisions

A good PPM tool should have a reporting platform that integrates project, portfolio, enterprise, and IT service management (along with third-party data) to give an unparalleled understanding of the enterprise without the need for expensive third-party reporting tools. Don’t just collect data – use it.

Project Portfolio Management + Service Management

Sometimes service requests need to become projects – and projects often kick off a series of small requests. This is why a single platform approach to PPM and ITSM – together – can be beneficial. With ITSM and PPM together on one platform you can:

  • Manage proposed, planned, and current projects with approval tracking.
  • Prioritize projects and optimize the project portfolio.
  • Track and manage the execution with time, resource, and expense tracking.
  • Perform what-if analysis & engage in resource capacity planning.

Better Together at Covenant Healthcare

Covenant Healthcare knew they needed a better way to manage tickets and projects in IT as the needs of employees, doctors, nurses and patients continued to evolve and grow. That’s why they picked TeamDynamix.

Frank Fear, CIO at Covenant, recognized a change was needed as the tech expectations within healthcare started to shift, “Our patients expect technology. They expect certain things like virtual visits, they expect to be able to message their providers and they expect to be able to schedule an appointment online and not have to call a provider to make that appointment.”

And it’s not just the patients who expect technology.

“IT kind of moved from being something that helped the back-office employees, to something that’s involved in everyone’s job all the time,” Raymond Hall, Technology Manager at Covenant Health, said. “In healthcare, they need quick, fast access – like they’re running a kiosk or at a checkout line – but the amount of data, and the sophistication of the data, they need is the equivalent of someone sitting down to do a research paper. They’re asking to see a patient’s chart and an x-ray and all of this information, and they want to be able to get to that workstation and see it like that.”

For Fear, he needs the same level of data and sophistication but instead of patient information, he’s looking at the inner workings of the entire IT organization and all of the projects, tickets and requests that come in and out to support the network.

“I have my own CIO dashboard and in one look I can see any negative survey that’s come in the last 24 hours, then pivot over and look at any project that has a status of red that needs my attention, then pivot over and look at what’s going live in the next 30 days, then pivot over and see what critical tickets have come in from the help desk that maybe affect our entire organization,” Fear said. “That’s the wow. I think it’s the pieces coming together in a single pane for me, as a leader, to be able to manage and support our organization.”

Another “wow” for Fear is that they don’t need a dedicated full-time employee to manage and maintain the TeamDynamix platform, “TeamDynamix, we felt, had all of the advanced functionality the other products had but didn’t require the need for a full FTE to manage and support the product,” he said.

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