PPM without Getting Fired? Step 2: KISS Fast

Companies implementing a new project portfolio management (PPM) software solution (like WorkOtter) are typically battling the chaos of project growth, resource contention, and organizational change. They’re looking for order and better productivity and they invest heavily in a solution, and the organizational structure, to see it through.

Unfortunately, the leaders implementing project and resource management software often ignore the success factors and best practices. This typically dooms the implementation – and their careers.

Let’s review the lessons learned so far:

Step 2) KISS Fast

OK – it is not what your thinking.

We aren’t trying to start an office romance to keep you from losing your job should your project management software implementation go wrong.

KISS is an acronym for Keep-it-Simple-Stupid. KISS is a pointed reminder that simple goals are preferred to complex, longer term and more expensive milestones in a project management implementation.

The “Fast” is a reminder to setup concurrent pilots and iterate (and adjust) as your implementation progresses.

Let’s assume your project management implementation goals are the following:

  1. Service requests (intake process)
  2. Project workflow
  3. Multiple project types (2-Way Continuous Microsoft Project Syncs, Warterfall, Agile, Support, and Small/Ad-hoc)
  4. Supply vs Demand of resource management
  5. Project financials (estimating, budgeting, and capitalization)
  6. Time sheets and actuals
  7. Prioritization with resource constraint reporting
  8. Pre and post project assessments
  9. Document management
  10. Project collaboration and messaging (with history/tagging)

You have your approved budget from your CIO, you sat through countless hours of demos, and built consensus (and traded in a few chips with your peers) to push this through purchasing.

You are ready to launch – right?

Suddenly, your CIO asks the dreaded question, “How FAST can we have ALL of our goals fully implemented?”  

You know the software like the back of your hand and are somewhat of an expert by now. You’re confident it can do “all of it today”!  It will be easy!

Here is when you need to close your mouth, think, and manage expectations (without losing momentum).

Here is what you should do before you answer your CIO:

  1. Schedule a meeting with your stakeholders:  Include the core management team, vendor representative, and a select few project managers and team members.
  2. Determine the #1 goal.
  3. Determine which functions of the software are essential to meeting that #1 goal.
  4. Figure out when you can achieve that #1 goal (including a little padding for the inevitable fires).

Continuing our example, perhaps having your project portfolio up to date is your #1 objective.

You meet and agree that you want to have your project portfolio online in the first month, and then iterate every succeeding month.

After further facilitation you decide that includes:

  • Only active projects less than 50% complete
  • Simple high level plans with milestones (can implement Microsoft Project sync and detailed workplans later)
  • Team members and their roles
  • High level forecasts (as a percentage of their time)
  • Weekly status reporting
  • Team collaboration

Later in your roadmap you can add time entry, more detailed resource forecasting, additional levels of roles, and financials.

Now, here is where the implementation magic comes in.

Make sure these same people are committed to a perpetual “pilot” in that you will take the next high level piece of functionality (let’s say Timesheets/ Approvals) and have a couple teams pilot it while you simultaneously focus on the #1 goal.

The lessons you learn in that month’s pilot will become the bedrock for rolling out that feature to the organization.

After each month you can decide if that piloted feature is ready, is still the next highest priority, or if other activities are needed (including training, adjusting reports, or changing your meta data).

By keeping it simple and iterating fast with a perpetual pilot you will:

  • Keep management engaged
  • Keep your missteps and failures small and contained
  • Have a road-map people can put faith in
  • Implement the features in a prioritized way

In our next segment in our series we will discuss the 3 most important words in your implementation:  reuse, reduce and recycle.


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