If you drew a Venn diagram for how companies can better manage future complex projects, one circle would be project management itself. The other, automation. In the middle? Digitally Supported Expert Program Management—“e-PM” for short.
This new capability is already accelerating program management automation with benefits including accelerating value capture, enhancing risk management, improving decision making and increasing stakeholder involvement.
Companies today are using technologies that only a few years ago would have been considered science fiction. COVID-19 has only accelerated that pace and e-PM is helping better manage those digital business transformations.
Some perspective first, though. When performed correctly, program and project management can help drive transformational success by providing the visibility needed to:
- Anticipate and respond to risks
- Keep stakeholders aligned and focused on objectives
- Make key trade-offs and decisions supporting program objectives
- Keep programs on-track and on-budget
- Focus on what can move the needle and drive business success
It’s partly about “making the trains run on time.” But it’s also about agility and creativity. Many companies tend to get stuck in the mundane and mechanical aspects of program/project management, such as the dreaded weekly status reporting and collecting data to understand progression and timeline.
Some solutions help clear the clutter, but here’s the bottom line: Legacy program management practices have generally been underutilized as value creation tools.
That’s why e-PM is so valuable to so many companies these days.
Many are investing in tools (such as Planview, Tella, Jira, Quickbase etc.) that automate much of the mundane data collection activities, shifting the burden from people so they can instead focus on higher-value activities, including:
- Analyzing program risks
- Evaluating options and alternative approaches
- Recalibrating business cases
- Facilitating key decisions in a smarter and more efficient manner
- Better managing and aligning stakeholder expectation
Typical shift in time-savings using ePM.
e-PM is already helping companies manage change in a more agile manner. As Mike Tyson once eloquently stated: “Everyone has a plan ‘til they get punched in the mouth.” Despite the best planning, when large programs go off-track the impact can be serious, potentially resulting in:
- Substantial cost overruns
- Business-significant delays
- Potential compliance lapses and related reputational risks
- Erosion of stakeholder support
One e-PM solution—RGP’s cloud-based LaunchPM program management toolkit—is already helping program managers counter these potential negative impacts by automating repetitive and non-value-added data collection as well as reporting activities needed to track program progress. The toolkit enables expert program managers to spend more time on value-add activities that matter more to project success: analyzing program data, anticipating issues, and proposing creative alternatives to keep projects on-track, on-time, and on-budget.
Here’s one client’s experience:
An Asia-based property management company was undergoing an accounting business process outsourcing (BPO) initiative but lacked the internal capacity and prior experience to manage the transformation. So they turned to us to help. One of our first deliverables was a detailed work breakdown structure (WBS) to better understand and organize project scope.
Then, instead of using a traditional WBS tool—typically Excel—we deployed LaunchPM, seamlessly integrating WBS templates with status reporting and performance dashboards to fast-track orchestrating and managing project plans as well as real-time reporting for client stakeholders.
The result? The client successfully met its business objective of outsourcing selected processes on time and budget during the pandemic. More specifically, they:
- Increased consistency with standardized practices. Based on an expert-vetted framework, the suite of tools and templates helped with consistent project delivery aligned to organizational goals.
- Increased timely communication and collaboration. Online collaboration increased communication, informing and engaging stakeholders with real-time access to customizable reporting dashboards.
- Eliminated manual work and margin of error. Built-in automation reduced the busy work of data entry and eliminated version control errors by using Smartsheet, an industry-leading cloud-based software platform.
Another client’s success story:
An Asia-based consumer retail chain navigating the COVID-19 disruption was striving for more creative channels and devices to better engage its customers during the pandemic. At the same time, their operations and finance leaders were also leading a digital transformation to consolidate data sources, so they’d have a single, holistic view of all customer data.
In supporting this client, RGP used the LaunchPM platform to improve several functions and reduce uncertainty. Now, instead of having to share files, wait for updates, or conduct long meetings to update tasks, the platform provides all project team members with real-time access to review and update tasks. The project manager is now better able to laser-focus on critical areas or activities that need attention. More action—less distraction. The continuous updating also allows stakeholders across multiple functions to vet progress without waiting for formal status updates.
Given the exponential rate of change most companies are experiencing today, program and project management will only grow in importance. After all, no one’s betting that the pace of digital transformation will be slowing down anytime soon.
Legacy PM tools had their place in managing these transformations but never contributed much to real value creation. That’s where e-PM tools can help. They can be real game changers in helping companies manage large volumes of complex work without sacrificing quality. Most Venn diagrams never show those two factors intersecting. Now they can—and the benefits are real.
- Have your past deliverables been delivered on time and on budget?
- Have your stakeholders been fully engaged and supportive?
- Are you comfortable that you have the proper information in a timely way to make project decisions and trade-offs?