The Future of PPM and PMOs is Analytics (#PPM, #PMO)
The march towards strategic relevance for PPM initiatives and PMOs will depend on the continued evolution of their reporting and analytic capabilities. I like to think of this evolution in terms of three phases.
Phase 1: Reporting
Reporting almost by definition focuses on providing data and information on what has happened. How much budget have projects consumed to date? How many projects were completed in Q4? What did resource utilization look like for the past six months? And so on. The ability to answer these questions, largely through the implementation of centralized systems, was a huge step forward for PPM initiatives and PMOs. However, relying on this “after the fact” approach is becoming increasingly inadequate due to the accelerating pace of business change. In other words, using your rear-view mirror to manage your PPM initiative or PMO was possible when the road ahead was straight and predictable. But, this is rarely the case for most organizations today.
Phase 2: BI Dashboards
Because of the unpredictability of road conditions today, BI Dashboards can provide more real-time instruments that can tell us what is going on right now. For example, a typical PPM dashboard includes “traffic light” status indicators of the current health of projects. While they are also used to provide easy to consume summaries of historical information, they are particularly adept at answering questions like how many resources are assigned to execute on this strategy, program or project right now. And, they are “drillable” so users can immediately access the underlying data with a click of the mouse.
Phase 3: Analytics
Analytics is used for planning the future.— a future that is increasingly difficult to predict due to accelerating change in competitive dynamics, business climate change and customers that are constantly demanding more for less. PPM Analytics range from strategic decision support to tactical “what if” scenario planning. Today, at least rudimentary “what if” scenario planning is possible to answer questions like “what impact would shifting or excluding a proposed project have on my project plan?” More strategic questions include “what future resource capacity is required to execute my strategic plan?” More sophisticated investment planning and budgeting is also on the horizon that will address question like how much risk is it appropriate to take on given the expected ROI on this new product program. Ultimately, these types of capabilities will transform the role of PPM initiative leaders and PMOs from strategy execution lieutenants to strategy formation and business transformation generals.
As Gartner Research VP, Donna Fitzgerald, put it in a recent conversation with Instantis, “In the future, PMOs will live or die by their analytics.” I couldn’t have said it any better.