From collaboration tools, advanced scheduling and cost control, to web-based dashboards, a multitude of vendors are promoting their packages and applications to project-driven organizations worldwide. Chances are you have a package of your own. While these tools can bring greater efficiencies to their users, they can also become a nuisance. So how does one tell if their PPM system is not delivering its promised benefits. Are there tell tale signs that an you are not getting the most out of your investment?
Without further ado, here are our top 5 signs your PPM system is not working for you as it should:
NUMBER 5. OVER 15 % OF ACTIVITIES HAVE DATE CONSTRAINTS
If your tool uses a CPM (Critical Path Method) algorithm for schedule calculations (with dependencies and activity durations, such as Microsoft Project or Primavera), having project schedules that contain a large number of date constraints such as “finish no later than” or “start on or after” is sometimes a sign that users are not leveraging the tool’s calculation features properly. Or perhaps, the schedules only reflect key milestones and would benefit by acquiring a bit more detail. Another avenue to explore would be to provide some refresher training to help the users gain a better understanding of dynamic scheduling principles and methods.
NUMBER 4. A LARGE NUMBER OF YOUR REPORTS/VIEWS/SCREEN LAYOUTS CONTAIN MORE THAN 10 COLUMNS
Remember that PPM tools are primarily communication tools and that, in today’s fast-paced world, most people do not read whatever documents we send them. They merely scan them. So, keep your reports in line with what I call the “Phone number” principle: keep the number of columns in your views and reports to a maximum of somewhere around 7 to get your message across (by the way, notice my list is only 5 items long!)
NUMBER 3. IMPROPER USE OF “TOTAL FLOAT”
Try this. Open any project schedule and display the “total float” column. If you see large negative values in there, that’s a sure sign you are not getting your money’s worth. Negative float, especially large numbers like “-75 days” are usually a sign of improper tool usage. Conversely, very high positive values are also questionable.
NUMBER 2. SCHEDULES ARE NOT UPDATED ACCORDING TO A REGULAR PACE
To be efficient, data in a PPM system must be updated according to a regular drumbeat. All projects should be updated regularly, not just when it is convenient. In my training classes, I usually make an analogy with a teenager cleaning his or her room. If it is done on a weekly basis, the mess is less likely to look impossible to clean up than if you wait three months!
NUMBER 1. ONLY PROJECT SCHEDULERS AND SOMETIMES PROJECT MANAGERS ACCESS THE TOOL
This is a symptom in many organizations where the PPM tool is merely seen as a reporting tool and not used to drive the work. It becomes a tombstone information tool and a burden more than an asset, consuming precious hours of project management effort but not helping the teams deliver on time, on budget and to the customer’s satisfaction. If this is the general feeling among the staff, you have an urgent need to re-engineer your PPM processes and structure.