The Role of Crowd Sourcing in Enterprise PPM

Written by Wayne Caccamo

Crowd Sourcing has been a part of PPM processes for years, but now many of these processes like ideation, project prioritization and best-practice sharing have a more hip term to describe how they more broadly leverage ideas and information from project team members and stakeholders across the organization and beyond. If you’re not taking advantage of crowdsourcing across the PPM process life-cycle from ideation to business case and proposal management to project execution and benefits realization, perhaps you should. Here are some examples of existing and new crowdsourcing applications in action:

Ideation. For years organizations have provided manual and automated suggestion boxes for collecting project ideas for things like new products and process improvements. In the Lean Six Sigma (continuous process improvement) project tracking world, the term Voice-of-the-Customer (VoC) has been institutionalized as part of the formal project team vernacular. Crowdsourcing is simply VoC on steroids. Integrated automated suggestion boxes provided as standard “Idea Management” functionality in some PPM systems such as Oracle Instantis EnterpriseTrack can be configured to allow any employee to submit an idea and even suppliers and channel partners. Workflow processes can then be configured to identify and route promising ideas for further evaluation in the proposal or business case evaluation phase of the PPM life cycle.

Project prioritization. Promising project ideas that are crowd sourced or the result of traditional proposal process can take advantage of crowd sourcing to help with the prioritization process. PPM systems with built-in or integrated survey management tools can score projects based on the aggregate value perceived by the relevant crowd of potential beneficiaries or other impacted stakeholders. Another project area where integrated survey tools are useful is in the application portfolio management (APM). APM is the process of determining which applications to “Tolerate”, “Invest in”, “Migrate”, or “Eliminate” per the Gartner TIME methodology. A key part of this analysis is often to determine what the usage patterns are for each application in question and essentially whether anybody would miss the application if it was gone tomorrow. Frequently, the only way to determine that is to crowd source the answer using a survey management tool.

Best Practice Sharing. PPM processes and systems provide a document repository or knowledge base where the PPM practitioner community (aka “crowd”) can share PPM tools, templates, lessons learned and even successful projects that can be replicated in other parts of the business. Crowd sourcing can then be used to rate the most useful and effective tools (e.g., on a five-star system). Before getting started on a project, it’s always a good idea to consult the best practice knowledge base to make sure you are not re-inventing the wheel – in the case of process improvement projects – and leveraging the most current and relevant best practices.

Project Statusing. A relatively new application of crowdsourcing is the notion of getting feedback from the broader project team and not relying solely on the project manager’s green-yellow-red status indicator. The sentiment on the ground can often diverge from what is being reported up the management chain. The drivers and implications of this is the focus of part 2 of this blog post on crowdsourcing and PPM. Check out my next post if you’re interested in exploring this idea.

Benefits Realization. Just to complete the life-cycle view of the intersection of crowdsourcing and PPM, another potential application is surveying project team members and “customers” on how the project performed once its impact has been operationalized. Did it return the expected ROI, customer satisfaction, time-to-market advantage or other non-financial benefit? Sometimes only the crowd can give you the real story.

How else is or will crowdsourcing positively impact enterprise PPM processes?

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