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The implementation of a project and portfolio management (PPM) system is itself a project like any other. It is often subject to a business case, where you need to do more than just list the benefits of such a solution by providing quantifiable evidence of a return on investment.

Many have an inherent understanding of the benefits of a project and portfolio management solution, but do not know how to describe it in a manner suitable for a business case. This brief blog will provide you with a starting point to create the structure for your internal business case.

Sensei can also help you create an evidence-based register of success measures for your PPM solution that are clear, and measurable. To find out more about how Sensei can help you, see here.

Some benefits are intangible, which makes it difficult to quantify their benefits. It’s imperative you measure your success based on real evidence. By ensuring you have evidence-based measures that you can keep coming back to throughout the project, you can validate that the return is still there. The many ‘Discover and Align’ sessions we have run with clients of varying maturities and industries, have taught us to focus on not just understanding the requirements of a project and portfolio solution, but on what evidence can be defined and measured over time to ensure the return is there.

Below I have distilled as much of that evidence as possible for use in your business case.

Trustworthy decision making

  • Can you trust the data you are given to make project investment decisions? this isn’t so much a measure as a process improvement, but including this will gain support from management who know that they don’t have the evidence they need to make decisions on projects. Rather than quoting numbers, you may be able to cite a case study of a decision made on incorrect data and the associated financial, time and opportunity cost impacts.
  • Up to date data. Typically, organisations complain that the data is out of date by the time they get to use it in management meetings. This results in time being spent questioning the information presented and trying to acquire the accurate data, often resulting in delayed decision-making and inefficiencies with out of session meetings.

Strategic alignment

A PPM tool, such as Sensei IQ, allows you to align your projects to your strategy. The benefit of a stronger alignment here can be quantified by looking back at past years and determining the gap between what you should have done versus what you did, and how much of the project work completed contributed to the strategic objectives of the organisation. Like many things, there is a people, process and enabler (Sensei IQ) investment needed to reap the benefits this process would bring.

To determine a value, you would need to consider:

  • The cost of the projects you did, but should not have, and their return
  • The cost of the projects you did not do, and what their return would have been

You can subtract the above to gain a figure but what is most important is how far the projects got you towards meeting a strategic goal, and what the value of that goal is. This is where your focus needs to be and what you should be measuring your projects against.

Process improvements

Steps being missed or skipped in a process, or a regulatory process not being followed, can have serious consequences. The example below describes a client whose business is to prepare work for insurance companies.

In this instance, the client needed to ensure that the varying processes of the insurance company were followed when delivering work for them, otherwise they would not be included on the final panel to continue doing work from the insurance company. Using Sensei IQ they were able to audit how many of their jobs didn’t follow the process properly, and create a formula:

  • Value of the insurance company work on average in a year
  • Multiplied by the 20% of jobs not following the process
  • Equalled the potential loss
  • Multiplied by a risk factor that they considered represented the true risk of being removed from the panel.

This gave them real evidence that they could present, and show that by using a solution like Sensei IQ, they could embed the correct processes so that a job could not proceed without the mandatory steps being completed.

Reduction in standalone artefacts

Offline documents that have different versions of data and cannot easily be reproduced in reporting are typically reduced by 50% or more. This provides the time saving benefits described below.

Saving time – Project Managers

One of the most misunderstood returns is in relation to project managers. Naturally everyone wants to make the life of the project manager easier. This can be a key success measure in relation to getting the project managers to adopt the solution. However, the real time savings through such automations are often enjoyed more by the PMO and management, thanks to the hard work of the project manager, who of course does still benefit from the overall increased efficiencies.

  • How much time is spent manually collating a status report? This depends on your report of course but generally we see the following:
    • Project manager spends between 2 and 8 hours a month on a report.
    • Multiply by the number of project managers.
    • This time spent collating data manually can now be spent actually managing the project and acting on the information in that report.
  • Add to this how much time is spent comparing finance data from the finance system to their own offline spreadsheet?
  • And finally, how much time is spent answering questions that could be self-served by stakeholders accessing this information via dashboards?

This can add up to significant time savings for the project manager and allow this valuable resource to spend their time delivering the work that matters.

Saving time – PMO

The PMO should be improving the ability of the organisation to deliver project, but instead spends a lot of time collating reports.

  • Our evidence from the last 10 years suggests a PMO spends on average a week per month preparing end of month reports, including financial reports, yet only 2 hours is spent in a meeting reviewing that data. It is common that there also ends up being no time available for true analysis of the data, or corrective action, as the focus then turns to the next month.
    • PMO staff spends 40 hours a month on a report. This is a direct saving, but the upside of using that time more productively is the true return.
    • Break this down by the number of reports if needed.
    • Also consider the time spent tailoring many of the reports to different audiences who are not used to having a single source of truth and format.
  • Also consider the time saved chasing approvals; if an automated workflow is in place, which can free up a lot of time for analysis of the projects going through the workflow in the first place.

Saving time – Team Members

  • Team members are often assigned to many tasks across many projects, and lose efficiency in dealing with different projects in different ways, and not having a standard and central place to see all of their tasks.
  • Increased collaboration is non-tangible but you will see results in increased satisfaction and morale between your teams. You will also achieve faster turn-around times due to less miscommunication between team members and the ability to prioritise tasks with dependencies more effectively.

Reducing errors

By having a single source of truth for all your projects, you should decrease the time spent going back and correcting data. This may need to be anecdotal from your staff, but ideally those preparing data will only need to do it once and you will see work being completed correctly and efficiently without the need for rework.

Licensing and future proofing

An opportunity exists to take advantage of the licenses you potentially already have, or use more of your existing Microsoft Office365 and Teams infrastructure.

  • Save the cost of Project Online licenses if you are moving from Project Online to Sensei IQ.
  • Prepare the infrastructure that other applications can use as you move into the Power Platform. We find that we are helping many of our clients do this the first time, ensuring their solid foundation and structure for future developments.

Taking advantage of what you already have

You already have an investment in Microsoft Office365. Now you can take advantage of more of it through integration to Microsoft Teams. While not a direct saving, this does increase the return on your past investment and allow your people to work in the platform they are familiar with and where they communicate the most.

Summary

I hope that the above information helps you to build a sound business case for your investment in a PPM solution, like Sensei IQ, that not only saves you time and money, but also allows you to apply your valuable resources to delivering the correct project outcomes. We are here to assist if you’d like help to get your business case underway.

By Ryan Darby

Success Lead

With over 18 years in PPM and Work Management Ryan has developed into a well-rounded professional who can always be approached and asked for advice. With experience in over 100 PPM implementations and Ryan’s excellent people skills, he is always able to provide quality advice and direction. Ryan is an industry standard expert on all levels of PMI, PMO and Scaled Agile.