Project Management

Top 10 Tips for a PPM Software Selection Project

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Selection (noun) / the act of choosing or selecting; "your choice of software was wisely made."
PMO Comics, by Mark Perry

Top 10 Tips for a PPM Software Selection Project

Tip 1: Treat PPM software selection as a project. When selecting a PPM solution, manage the selection process just as you would a project. Applying good project management techniques in the effort will ensure that the solution you select best meets the requirements for which the solution is intended and justified. A rich in function solution that provides features that are not needed may not be better than a simpler solution or approach that meets the core needs of the organization. Likewise, a simple solution might not provide long term viability as the organization matures. Use project management techniques to ensure focus is placed on needs and requirements as opposed to vendor bells and whistles.

Tip 2: State the business problem. State the business problem driving the selection of the PPM solution. Does the current system or tool fail to provide the needed functionality for managing projects and resources? Do specific needs exceed the abilities of the current system? Is project performance below management expectations? The first two problems are more easily addressed from a tool perspective, whereas the third is more problematic. If processes are flawed or non-existent, implementation of complex software will not resolve them problem; rather it will add to it.

Tip 3: Set improvement objectives. In order to define and prioritize requirements, set improvement objectives early on in the PPM tool selection process. The project manager for the PPM software selection project should document and gain agreement for both the current state as well as the desired state. And to achieve the goals of the desired state, set measurable objectives to be achieved. This will keep the software evaluation and selection process on track and aligned to business needs, rather than vendor software bells and whistles.

Tip 4: Document the proposed project management process. Before continuing with software selection, document the proposed project management process. If the current project management process is not working effectively, correct the process. If specific project management goals are not being met, perform root cause analysis to determine the required improvements in the current process. Until such time as the project management process has been thoroughly documented, hold off on further PPM software selection activities.

Tip 5: Integrate the appropriate software tools into the project management process. Use your project management processes to contextual show how the various software tools and applications are used throughout the entire project life cycle. Document the inputs, outputs, tool usage best practices, tips and techniques. Do not limit tool integration to just the project portfolio management application.

Tip 6: Generate requirements from process mapping. Process mapping will identify requirements critical to the success of the PPM software application. Use process mapping to arrive at a full view of requirements including both the requirements to be addressed by the PPM application and the requirements to be addressed outside of the PPM application.

Tip 7: Select a short list of three vendors. A small number of vendors is desired for the short list. The detailed set of requirements will result in identification of needs that can best be met by two to three vendors. Too many vendors making the short list is an indication that requirements definition has not produced differentiating features and that any product can do.

Tip 8: Test the vendor products. Request that the vendors provide a testing environment for their software. Test each of the shortlisted vendor product offerings with data that best represents your business environment. Used experienced staff that understands the how the products work to evaluate the capabilities of the software and results achieved of the product tests.

Tip 9: Judge the vendors. All vendors have strengths and weaknesses. Before making a final decision, judge the vendors on their track record. Key considerations include their reputation, customer base, years in business, financial condition, and long term strategy. Seek to discuss the performance of the vendor and their offering with at least three customer references. If the vendor and their product were successfully implemented at organizations similar to your own, then you can expect a similar success.

Tip 10: Select a vendor. Be mindful that there is a point of diminishing returns on the time that is spent in evaluating vendors and their product offerings. The leading software solutions will address a majority of the business requirements of most customers and few customers will implement and use all of the features of the vendor's product. While the identification of all costs is important, too much focus on price can overshadow other vendor selection criteria such as how well the product meets the needs of all of the intended users, how well it works with your existing architecture, and the extent to which it can be easily and effectively used in support of the project mix of your PMO.
Posted on: January 31, 2009 09:42 PM | Permalink

Comments (6)

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Mark, these are a good an comprehensive list of tips. Most important, they can postiion the project to overcome one of tis biggest hurdles: resistance to change. It seems that if people can resist, they will.

The experience of implementing two different PPM systems, at two very different companies, has convinced me that a PPM project is really a project of organziational change, especially culture change. You need more than a list of eventual beneifts to pull off such change. Your tips 4-6 will give the PPM project manager entry to the most likely users of the product, and an opportunity to sway their need to resist.

Great list!

Randy, I quite a agree with you. I could easily step out on the limb and hazzard to say that organizational and cultural change issues are far more important to spend time on in the planning for PPM, than a lengthy and overly exhaustive analysis of PPM application features and functions. Thanks for your wise feedback. I hope we hear and learnb from others.

Excellent idea, Mark - choosing PPM software is a big task and it makes sense to go about it as you would any other project!

Mark, this is pretty much how we tell customers to approach PPM selection. Unfortunately, 90% of our customer base are folks who bought the software first without applying any sort of method to tool selection.

I would add that budget-wise, we use a 70/30 rule-of-thumb. 30% is the cost of the software and configuration and 70% is the executive support, business-streamlining, training and adoption. This includes internal staff time as well as consulting, i.e. true project cost.

Looking at our existing base of customers, some other key things that I see consistently in PPM deployment failures - more than 10 custom fields and configuration that takes more than one man-week. These are indicators that you have not done enough to streamline your business processes and you have not clearly defined the roles and responsibilities correctly.

Brian, great points. I so like your budget rule of thumb and custom field caution. Thanks for sharing..!

Nice ideas. I think implementing a project management solution throughout an organization is a long-term project in itself, so select a solution that will grow with you and offers features that you may not even think of utilizing at the start. Make sure the PM software integrates with core apps, like email. Create a checklist based on your needs and compare products to each other.

If you are not tech savvy than platform like SoftwareSuggest can help you to find right project management software for your business.

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