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Because everyone wants the latest gadgets

Personally, I’ve probably spent 5 years rolling out tools across organisations, specifically in the area of Portfolio and Project Management. The scenarios on why new management tools are required spanning over the last 10 years are generally similar. Let’s see if you recognise any of the below:

1. The current system to capture and robustly report project information is no longer fit for purpose.

2. The current tool is too complicated and we have a bottleneck, resulting in only one individual knowing how to administer the system.

3. The executive was sold the tool but there is nobody who can design, build or roll it out.

4. The executive has left and there is no longer sponsorship or leadership support for the tool.

5. There is no system in place and we need to have a common approach to tracking, governing, reporting, and managing projects.

6. We have increased users and complexity and we need to upgrade our current features to meet the new reporting demands.

7. We have disparate set of tools scatter across the organisation and dozens of similar reports. We need something joined up, consolidated and streamlined, so sponsors can understand the complete picture.

Which of the 7 above resonates with you? Maybe all of them can be true for your organisation, I have led projects covering all these areas and each has its own challenges and surprises.

The challenge for organisations is understanding what tool/system will be fit for purpose for your project management needs. The wrong thing to do is to go from nothing and jump in a Ferrari when you needed an 8-seater people carrier. Or the opposite is true too. So, how do you make sure you are spending on the right tools and engaging at the right level?

1) Pull a small team together let's say, 6 – 9 who are a combination of Project Managers/ PMO and Stakeholders and brainstorm using SWOT analysis with the current Project Management tools. This helps to validate your assertions regarding your current tools.

Note: Sometimes you can fix the problem without jumping to a new tool. Get a PPM expert to help you to upgrade your current systems. Otherwise, this SWOT analysis is still a good trigger for you to begin developing requirements for your next tool.

2) Refine requirements for your system, brainstorm the categories, features, and proposed output that you would expect. No need for massive detail just enough to draw a picture.

Note: For this task, separate the users from the leaders and sponsors as you want it to be clear and ensure that all groups get their views and requirements documented and rationalised.

3) Consolidate your requirement, not in a boring list, but in some form of picture, brainstorm, or anything that can be communicated and easily engaged on. This is important as a requirements list is good for a developer but boring to look at for non-techs.

4) Now for the tool, how do you map what you have captured with the tools in the market? Well, you are going to have to do some more refining but that’s OK. You do not have all the money in the world or time so you want to turn your captured requirements into a prioritised requirements list by using the old strategy of MoSCoW – Must-haves, Should-haves, Could- haves and Wont-haves (more in this technique later).

5) Now, back to the tool. Look for a consultancy that provides tool development who can do the search for the best vendors for your requirements including rollout services and send them a request for a quote and demo. Most consultancies (including AGILITY X) will have a few tools up their sleeve, where they can compare and contrast based on what you have provided. Alternatively.....

6) Try and map these requirements to existing tools on the market by what you can find online and ask the vendors to provide you a demo based on your requirements. There will always be some things that are custom and will require a custom build.

Warning: Be careful, as custom builds can get costly and complicated.

7) Finally, once you have assessed all consultancies or vendors, choose the vendor/tool that meets your need.

This process can take anything from 2 weeks to 3 months to find the right tool, depending on how urgent getting the right tool is for your organisation.

What's Next?

If you have successfully found the right tool and consultancy to deliver, what is next?

1) Present your proposal for the new tool to your sponsors.

2) Agree on the funding

3) Engage vendors to deliver a complete service

If you want to know how to roll out new PPM tools using agile methods and what you should be thinking about in order to catch the best fish, watch out for our next blog.

I hope this helps your decision making!


Happy to discuss more these topics extensively, just contact

Eugene James

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