PPM without Getting Fired? Step 5: Clear Your Calendar

In the 16 years we have been working with customers (big and small) on their project portfolio management implementations we have seen every mistake in the book.

Unfortunately, some mistakes turn into implementation disasters where budgets, time, and the careers (of those who picked the software and planed the roll-out) go to die.

Don’t let this happen to you.

There are definitely ways to implement a resource and project management solution that minimizes the chance you will fail to meet expectations and will have to take the walk of shame with your stuff in a cardboard box.

Let’s review the lessons learned so far in our series:

By now you’re into your implementation and are trying to balance the old process, soon to be decommissioned tools, and the many legacy reports.

Your CIO and the directors are aware of your goals but are reluctant to change.  The reason you are going through this entire process of selecting a new tool and reworking your process is because your PMO team spends the entire month producing reports no one reads, maintaining portfolio information that lacks accuracy, and following a process that is clearly broken.

Put another way, you are so busy cutting wood there is no time to sharpen the saw.

Step 5) Clear your calendar

Still think you will have the time (and energy) to do everything you are trying to improve AND implement the tools and best practices you need so your company can grow?

Just as important as your budget and resources is the time dedicated to the future state (without being dragged down by the present state).

You need management’s space, freedom, and political cover to focus your efforts on the new PPM tool (and related process).

What can you do?

Here is your plan of attack…

#1) Document the current consumers of your team’s time:

  • Meetings you attend (be sure to include any preparatory time)
  • Reports you generate (and the time it takes to prepare them)
  • Prioritization
  • Workflow
  • Resource management activities
  • Program status reporting
  • Budget (include capitalization)
  • Compliance requests

Organize the information in a spreadsheet with the total hours and have a column for the importance of each activity (or group of activities).


#2) Document the future state goals of the PPM:

  • New processes (including documentation and meeting time)
  • New capabilities
  • New reports
  • New compliance capabilities
  • Training (include preparation)
  • PPM Setup


#3) Realistically show your capacity by week, above and beyond your current state (if any).

Given your supply of resources, the combined demand, and the inability to maintain the current process AND build the process and portfolio management system of the future – your management is left with some obvious decisions:

  1. Extend the implementation time dramatically
  2. Increase the budget dramatically
  3. Let go of a significant number of the current state activities – if your company is like most, management selects #3


Here are some creative ways to free up time for your PPM software and process implementation (as most executives have a fair amount of heartache making these decisions):

  1. Send out reports with embedded information asking for a reply if they have read the report.  No replies?  No one is reading it and you can scratch it.
  2. Avoid transferring projects “in progress” into the new PPM system.  It is disruptive to the team and is time consuming to perform.
  3. If you can’t eliminate reports, ask that they be produced at a reduced rate (or adhoc if really needed).
  4. Ask to skip all but the most critical meetings (someone at the meeting can document action items and key points discussed).
  5. Consolidate reporting to one legacy format.  So often the same information is disseminated multiple ways to meet the formatting preferences of different managers.  Publishing one version of the report can save significant time.
  6. Interns can often be hired and trained to help with administrative duties (loading the new system or maintaining the existing system).  I am always pleasantly surprised at how quickly and effectively the next generation picks up enterprise software.
  7. Ask the vendor for templates, best practices, and implementation tips (like these).  Often they can assist, port data quickly, and should have libraries of best practices and training guides you can leverage in your implementation.

By “clearing your calendar” of all but the most critical of activities and using some of these time saving PMO best practices, tips, and tricks – you will be able to focus on your future state goals and keep your career on track for bigger challenges ahead!


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