A colleague of mine has a saying: "If cavemen had project management in the cloud, they would have invented the wheel a lot sooner."
It’s a funny thought, conjuring up images of Fred Flintstone fat-fingering his way through the stone-aged version of an iPad. Yet, as silly as it sounds, some project management tools are about as efficient as a tablet made of stone.
According to a survey conducted by P2 Consulting, 44% of companies say their projects don’t deliver the benefits they expected. The costs related to underperforming projects are significant. For every $1 billion organizations invest in projects and programs, they risk losing $109 million, according to a report by the Project Management Institute (PMI).
The primary causes of project failure have not changed dramatically. The PMI survey found that changing priorities, inaccurate requirements and shifting projects objectives still stymie enterprises. Poor communication, undefined project goals and inadequate sponsor support are cited as reasons why projects underperform. And inadequate costs estimates, inaccurate task-time estimates and resource dependencies remain barriers to project success.
But the biggest stumbling block for many project management teams today is using old solutions to tackle modern tasks. In the digital age, companies can no longer rely on standalone applications that address single aspects of project management and offer little integration with other corporate systems.
Historically, project solutions have been focused primarily on delivery. Other project-related tasks—such as financial planning, budgeting, forecasting and reporting—involved the use of Excel spreadsheets and time-consuming, manual entry into ERP systems. There was not much integration between the execution of a project and the equally important budgeting and resourcing for a project. The disconnect led to unwelcome surprises in the form of delays and cost overruns that were not accounted for in the company’s financial systems.
This is where modern tools can make the difference between success and failure. A comprehensive, cross-discipline project management solution allows enterprises to incorporate data from HR, talent management and ERP systems, as well as integrate efficiently with legacy systems. And when delivered via the cloud, you get the additional advantages of scalability, lower IT costs, and always up-to-date software.
Oracle Project Portfolio Management Cloud features prebuilt dashboards, reports and metrics, helping project managers and finance professionals monitor, track, and improve performance in real time—for example, assigning additional staff to a project when needed. It also offers highly intuitive interfaces that require reduced training, with social collaboration and mobile device access built in.
Finance teams, in particular, are taking advantage of integrated project management solutions to play a more strategic role in the selection and execution of projects. By integrating project-execution tasks with financial-management activities, organizations are able to standardize data, rules and business processes across every project management discipline to derive a single source of project truth. With this information at their fingertips, enterprises can bid projects accurately, source them adequately, and complete them on time and within budget.
Finance leaders are also more involved in determining which solutions best meet an organization’s project-execution and financial-management needs, so they can accurately plan, track, monitor, analyze and execute projects. For example, Solairus Aviation, an aircraft management company, was using off-the-shelf software to manage its fleet of 40 airplanes. But as the company’s inventory grew to nearly 90 aircraft, it realized it needed a more comprehensive solution to keep operating efficiently.
The finance team, which took the lead on evaluating solutions, selected Oracle Project Portfolio Management Cloud for a variety of reasons. The sophisticated project-management system featured an integrated, flexible contract-billing program that allowed the Solairus finance team to treat each aircraft as a project. This gives them the capability to report expenses for each trip taken in a client’s plane—and to provide complete transparency to their clients.
Equally important, by implementing Oracle Project Portfolio Management Cloud, Solairus avoided the costs of servers and the infrastructure to maintain them. And the system is integrated with Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud, for seamless tracking of finances and resources related to every project.
If you’re interested in driving more successful projects, here are some key questions to ask about your current technology, or the capabilities of the solutions you’re considering:
• Are you able to integrate project financial information with project execution data to get a single source of project truth?
• Can they deliver sophisticated, up-to-the-minute analytics so that both finance and project teams can be on top of the projects by managing key performance indicators?
• Does your solution integrate with your HR system to easily browse, select, and assign resources to projects?
• Do you have access to social and mobile capabilities that enable large and distributed project teams to collaborate and keep projects moving forward?
The above capabilities, which would have been hugely difficult and expensive only a few years ago, are now readily available via the cloud at a cost within reach of midsize companies. Digitization is changing the very nature of the project management discipline. By getting project management out of the stone age, any company has the opportunity to invent the next wheel—and do it sooner, rather than later.
For additional reading, please download the eBook, 5 Tenets of Modern Project Management.