Archive for December, 2006

User Adoption Challenges

On Atlantic Global’s PPM Blog, they posted 11 barriers to adoption of Project Portfolio Management (PPM) systems.

I agree with many of these user adoption challenges.  However, there a few more I would add to the list:

12. PPM solutions as defined by Gartner and other analysts create yet another silo application that is mainly sponsored and owned by IT. Project Workforce Management takes a different approach. By providing a solution that caters to the entire project and service-driven enterprise, the solution is far more likely to gain acceptance and to become a core system. Many of the PPM projects we saw in the past start with a lot of energy and then get abandoned with IT management changes, get labeled as something that is useful for IT only, or other line of business executives pushing for their own silo software investments.

13. PPM solutions as the name implies do not focus on the needs of workforce; this creates even more resistance. That is why so many PPM projects fail. The workforce management aspect of project execution is ignored in such systems.

14. Without a common workflow architecture and user interface, PPM solutions are really a set of disconnected applications assembled together to manage projects. A common workflow framework, once adopted, is used to drive all project and workforce related processes and change requests. Without a standard and powerful workflow engine at its core PPM applications end up adding new unfamiliar functionality based on the needs of various departments which increases creates more overhead and resistance.

15. PPM applications are not connected to payroll and billing. PPM vendors are so focused on project management that they fail to realize that the only way a system can truly add value to an organization is for it to become a business critical system. Project workforce management ties into payroll, billing and accounting systems, making it a business critical system everyone has to work with and adopt to get their jobs done.

16. PPM solutions do not directly address the compliance challenges of a company that has to deal with labor laws, Sarbanes-Oxley and GAAP (accounting) regulations. Project Workforce Management has extensive compliance automation capabilities that enforce the company’s work policies, cost accounting/expense reporting/billing processes, and other corporate procedures and guidelines that facilitate compliances and audits; since compliance is not an option this substantially decreases the user adoption challenge.

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Process Improvement : Job No. 1 (the workforce management and project management perspective)

CIO Insight published an article, "The 30 Most Important IT Trends for 2007." For your convenience, we list the 30 trends below:

Strategy
1. Process improvement will be job No. 1
2. IT works on closing the sale
3. Companies make their Web sites more engaging
4. Customer service gets a tune-up
5. Companies put their mounds of data to work
6. Information governance gains momentum
7. CIOs strive to be strategic

Management
8. The division between IT and business will diminish
9. CIO compensation keeps climbing
10. IT organizations will keep growing
11. CIOs struggle to find business-savvy technologists
12. Outsourcing changes IT management
13. Outsourcing growth slows
14. Offshoring shifts from India
15. Companies invest in IT leadership
16. Demonstrating ROI will remain a struggle

Security and Risk
17. No abatement of IT security threats
18. Security concerns turn users away from Windows
19. Security morphs into risk management
20. Compliance achieves what government intended
21. Compliance spurs financial process improvement

Technology
22. The move to a new architecture marches on
23. Enterprise applications start losing their luster
24. Data quality demands attention
25. IT reluctantly embraces Web 2.0
26. IT innovation loses traction
27. Business process management services and software will frustrate users
28. For business intelligence, the best is yet to come
29. IT organizations start going green
30. Dissatisfaction with vendors is on the rise

In their blog, 180 Systems adds the following comment:

180 View – We also share the view that process improvement will be job No. 1. It’s interesting that process improvement shows up under security and risk [#21]. This makes sense to us. Compliance reviews are deemed a bitter poison by most companies and want them done as quickly/cheaply as possible or at least to provide some suggestions to improve business process.

In my view, compliance is like medicine that tastes bad but is good for you in the same way as getting more exercise and eating healthier food might be unpleasant but necessary for a long happy life. The process improvements brought about by compliance are the very improvements that will make a business more agile and competitive.

Therefore, process improvement—whether for compliance, or for the general "health" of the business—is an essential area for a company to invest, and we are glad to see it is regarded as the #1 trend for 2007.  A workflow-driven project workforce management system is the one of the best ways to achieve and maintain a consistent process improvement program.

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Aberdeen Report: Agility is the Theme

A new survey and report from Aberdeen, “Beyond Time and Attendance: Agility Meets Efficiency in Workforce Management,” is now available, and is complimentary through the Tenrox-sponsored download site (through January 26, 2007). Download the Aberdeen Workforce Management report here.

Bottom line: Organizations with shift-based or project-based workers need the agility to handle unforeseen changes in labor supply and demand. Workforce Management (WFM) solutions have proven their value for organizations that have adopted them, delivering 25% to 450% ROI. Companies with WFM are clearly outperforming those without it.

Aberdeen’s survey of 243 companies found that 34% did not have any WFM system in place, and another 51% were only partially automated. This 85% sample represents organizations that are still thinking and executing in a pre-flat world, (read our post about the Flat World here), choosing Time and Attendance and Workforce Management solutions with limited to no project concepts; meaning project management and project staffing is not even part of their realm of thinking, yet.

The report finds that the most desired capabilities in Workforce Management are:

  1. Planning, Scheduling and tracking of multiple work types (29%)
  2. Prioritizing labor plans based on customer impact (29%)
  3. Allocating labor costs more accurately to projects, activities, or products (27%)

The report includes “Recommendations for Action” for companies at varying levels of maturity in WFM.  We highly recommend that anyone interested in Project Workforce Management read this report to optimize their WFM investment.  Download the complimentary Aberdeen Workforce Management report here.

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Unleashing Your Workforce?

Here’s an intersting article in BusinessWeek Online entitled "Smashing the Clock," describing Best Buy’s Results-Oriented Work Environment (ROWE).

Many execs wondered if the program was simply flextime in a prettier bottle. Others felt that working off-site would lead to longer hours and destroy forever the demarcation between work and personal time. …

Then again, the new work structure’s proponents say it’s helping Best Buy overcome challenges. And thanks to early successes, some of the program’s harshest critics have become true believers. … The hope was that ROWE, by freeing employees to make their own work-life decisions, could boost morale and productivity and keep the service initiative on track.

It seems to be working. Since the program’s implementation, average voluntary turnover has fallen drastically, CultureRx says. Meanwhile, Best Buy notes that productivity is up an average 35% in departments that have switched to ROWE. Employee engagement, which measures employee satisfaction and is often a barometer for retention, is way up too, according to the Gallup Organization, which audits corporate cultures.

I do not see how this can work well in too many workplaces, unless some sort of tracking system is used to monitor whether any actual work is being done. People can be in remote locations or working from home, and report on their ‘effort’ that is recorded, tracked, and measured. Then you know that people are actually investing their time and focusing on their projects. Otherwise the risks of a program like ROWE would be too great with irreversible damage to customers and project schedules occurring long before anyone can even gather the ‘lack of results’ to tell.

Wireless and mobile technologies, added to project workforce management’s growing adoption, are contributing to the momentum behind flexible scheduling and the "work-life balance."

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Reuse, Recycle…and Leverage Your Current Investments

We enjoyed the article What Gartner is Telling Your Boss, which discusses Gartner’s view of the future of application development:

"The future of application development is not about programmer productivity," said [Matt Hoyle, Gartner Analyst] during the keynote presentation, "but in assembling functionality from components." While programming will not go away, he stressed, programming has decreasing importance in delivering excellence. "Assembling, buying, and extracting is an increasing part of what you need to do," he said. To be more agile and responsive, application development managers have to manipulate, orchestrate, and compose new business processes, using resources available from outside partners, third-party applications, Web services, and existing code components. [Dale Veccio, gartner analyst] asked, "Why would you ever code an app from scratch again? Why would you need to?"

Bloggers tended to focus on the implication that Gartner is advocating the use of open source code. But I think the bigger picture is that managing software and IT projects is not just about technology decisions. We have to do Project Execution and Governance better: by knowing which projects to do and which to kill.

Moreover, there has to be more emphasis on optimizing the investments the company has already made in infrastructure, technology and R&D. There has been a shift in emphasis in the marketplace from investing in the "next new thing" to better leveraging current investments.

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