I wouldn’t be alone in telling you that investment in IT is still a good bet in 2009. Many are even saying that technology will play a strong role in the economic recovery. In my opinion, this could very well be the case. Research data collected by EMA as recently as October, 2008 shows no dramatic decreases in IT budgets to date. Of course, this may or may not change as we head further into 2009.
Yet, it is undeniable the economy is struggling and as IT professionals¾key players in the overall business team¾it is important to contribute to the larger picture of the business where sacrifices are being made. Scrutinizing IT investments is one very smart way to operate IT as a business within a business. Project and portfolio management (PPM) solutions and supporting processes are definitely a part of this picture.
When the economy and business climate is tumultuous, businesses need to stay focused. PPM can help to bring that focus to IT and provide the visibility and insight needed to keep important projects and initiatives on track. Without effective project management, many efforts start out in good stead, but fall inevitably to the wayside when a more pressing priorities come along. But a project management program pretty much eliminates excuses as long as the people running the program bring on board all the key stakeholders. Projects get done, efficiencies are created, and innovation plans put into place. In short, PPM helps IT sharpen its priorities and get the job done.
In its simplest of forms, PPM provides visibility for tracking and managing new and existing projects within an organization. It mitigates heavy demands on staff resources with projects and initiatives that compete for the same budget dollars. It’s an easy topic to grasp if you merely look at the basic functionality required to manage projects. This “basic” functionality includes projects, schedules, resources allocated, status, and actual versus project budget allocations. PPM tools provide all of these capabilities, but they can do much more. If used well, they can be a CIO’s best friend for keeping IT on track with business objectives.
Tools & Solutions
·Mature PPM solutions include decision support capabilities, financial tracking and linkages to other IT planning and management tools. Many slices of information are available for the CIO. For instance, with evolved solutions, he or she can get a look at how the IT organization is performing financially, by division, by strategic objective, and by schedule, along with many other criteria. PPM can specifically help with the follow decision categories that are so commonplace for IT executives:
·Resource Utilization: Provide a view of how any given resource or group of resources are being used in the environment. This information can be compared with changes in company direction to determine whether or not those resources are being used to the best “value” in the organization in a given timeframe. You can paint what-if scenarios to view the trade-offs of varying project and resource decisions.
Executive Analytics: Visualization tools within PPM solutions make them particularly useful for sharing status and project intersection points with business executives. You can capture timelines, resource shortages, and trade-offs in making one decision versus another when it comes to IT investments. PPM offers a visual tool for executive staff to review resource needs, project health and status.
Risk Mitigation: Mature PPM solutions enable decision-makers to assess risk factors and determine whether or not a project can succeed in its own right and what, if any, are the implications of its failure or success on other important projects in the enterprise.
Quantifiable Metrics for Performance: These metrics are only useful when they are tracked and monitored by a PPM system. Ideally, these metrics will be presented in an automated fashion and demonstrate obvious successes and shortcomings.
Staffing Evaluations: These show which IT professionals are able to meet their objectives on time and within budget. Needless to say, this information is not only helpful in ensuring the success of a given project, but can be very valuable when it comes time to do staff reviews.
EMA has identified more than thirty vendors with PPM offerings. Some of the more active vendors include CA, BMC Software, Compuware, Daptiv, HP, IBM, Innotas, PlanView, Serena, Oracle and SAP. Products can be purchased using a full license distribution model or, from a handful of the vendors, via software as a service (SaaS).