Wednesday, November 18, 2015

CA Technologies is changing the narrative with the next release of CA PPM

As a long time user of PPM technology, I have always been a big fan of CA PPM (Clarity).  The feature set is robust and it offers unparalleled configurability to the end user.  CA PPM is truly a platform that can be utilized to solve many more business issues and processes than just project and portfolio management.  The ability for businesses to leverage the power of the platform and to drive the key performance indicators of their individual needs makes it a market leader.  The architecture underneath CA PPM is a differentiator.  The ability to easily upgrade to the newest version without losing configurations and user settings has also made it a very attractive product.
There are a couple of key segments of the market to consider as well.  In my experience, only 10-15% of project managers on the market can write a fully resource loaded project schedule.  It is a skill that most project managers have not had the time to invest in learning.  The issue becomes the aggregation of data across an enterprise that is trying to leverage resource capacity and demand.  If the project managers are not resource loading the schedules, then a large disconnect can occur.  This has been an issue that many software vendors are trying to resolve.  CA PPM separates allocation from assignment to ease the burden for the organizations that want to allow mature and immature project schedules to be normalized and aggregated.  Again, a market leader.  The issue that CA PPM has always faced with their product is that the focus was on features, functions, and the maturity of their product allowed them to fall behind in the user interface.  This narrative has changed and CA PPM’s next release will absolutely change the market.
Some companies have utilized Workfront, Daptiv, or some of the newer solutions because of a modern interface.  What these systems lack in configurability, features, or functions have been outweighed by the ease of use factor in the product.  CA recognized this issue and tonight, unveiled their latest direction with the product.  Instead of chasing features or functionality, or even getting a laundry list of improvements requested by the end user, they invested a tremendous amount of resources in behavioral science.  They studied how humans interact with the product and why.  They extrapolated the data into some key findings and focused on those in a completely fresh look at the design of the product.  By focusing on personas, this enabled them to design the entire interaction with the product from a user life cycle perspective.  The results are impressive.
Think of the best features of Facebook and Twitter combined with the stability, power, and adaptability of one of the most mature products on the market.  This is an absolute game changer.  The new interface is intuitive, modern, and design with total mobility in mind.  The ability and extensibility of the product has been modernized for ease of use and has been optimized to also be used on mobile platforms.  This is not an app; it is a solution that can be accessed anywhere business is done.  Furthermore, it will take the use of a PPM tool (which has been viewed as a governance platform or a necessary evil) into a more social user experience that will drive the participation and content of the team.  CA PPM will become the centerpiece of conversation and collaboration instead of being a collector or aggregator of data.  It is truly revolutionary.
The other exciting piece of information that was shared today at CA World was the commitment of resources to move the product forward.  CA has nearly 40 resources dedicated to the enhancement of the product and several others working in a shared services model.  This means there are more people developing than some of the other products have in their entire company.  Mike Gregoire also stated that CA will be investing $1B next year to research and development of CA products.
It is clear by talking to customers, seeing the preview, and hearing the research that CA has absolutely nailed the market.  The behavioral science was a paramount decision that will continue to produce real solutions to real problems.  Some of the other major players in this space should be worried about the impact this design and delivery will have in the PPM market.  As I said in the title, the narrative has changed.  It will no longer be about can the product do this or that, it will be a centerpiece product that will revolutionize how the market utilizes PPM software.
No Day But Today,

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

To Be A Great Leader, You Have to Eat Your Own Dog Food

A common occurrence these days is to implement processes, procedures, rules, and regulations to protect organizations or improve the business.  The worst thing a leader can do is to implement something that they do not follow.  Your employees, team members, and associates will see right through that.  I have been witness to many organizations and leaders circumvent something that they put in place.  What is the point in that?  If you believe in something, then do it!

I have some real life examples of this. An IT organization puts in place that you must have a functional and technical specification approved before you can implement new technology.  This makes sense.  The organization wants to make sure everything is thought out before implementation to alleviate risk.  They are so stringent in this request that they will delay the number one corporate initiative for the year to ensure that the process is followed.  They continually force the consultant and the project team to utilize the process and meticulously check the boxes.  Meanwhile, they get an initiative for the same type of technology.  In the time that the project team is filling out all of the required paperwork, IT implements their solution.  When asked, the IT team did not have any of the required documents that the project team was required to do.  This screams of hypocrisy.  If the process is stringent, both projects must follow it!

Another example is when the Sponsor states that the company will be regimented in their delivery process.  All requirements are documented, go through a system, coded, and validated.  If it is not in the system, it is not a requirement.  Except for when they tell the consultant requirements outside of the system.  The miscommunication from this activity can result in rework, missed functionality, and budget over-runs.

Another organization is frustrated with new technology coming in that disrupts other technology already deployed.  In this case, they implement a technology review.  This review is to look at the technology, establish risk, and test it with corporate standards to ensure compliance.  Every project is forced through this council that determines the viability.  Unfortunately, they did not convey this to all users, so it is being implemented on some projects, but not others.  Then, due to the amount of requests, they bottleneck the environment to go to a Technology Steering Committee meeting that is limited in time and every 2 weeks.  This can delay projects 4-6 weeks depending on the agenda.  In this example, the division followed every process requested and the council ended up denying the use of a new technology even with overwhelming savings to the organization should the technology pass.  The division objected and in the end, could not use the new technology.  Three months later, the project manager read the meeting notes from the council and saw that the very same technology had been approved for IT’s use without having to follow the process.  The division requested again to go forward with a crucial cost savings project that was again denied without reason.

The last example is where a large organization had implemented a governance process.  They asked for a study on how the process was doing and then wanted automation of the process.  It was found that the process cost roughly $35M to operate and there were no true savings that could be attributed to the process.  As part of the governance meetings, no project was truly course corrected, cancelled, or accelerated as a result of the process.  Therefore, the process could not be attributed to any cost savings.  The consultants requested that the process be eliminated and a new governance process be created that delivered the value of the time being spent.  In the end, the owner of the process deleted the bad portions of the report and published the findings to seemingly approve of the existing process.

These are real examples of things that I have witnessed.  I am not saying that any of these processes are bad.  I am not saying we shouldn’t have key processes in place.  What we need to determine is if the process is worth doing, then everyone does the process.  Also, the process has to deliver value to the organization!  Else, why do it?  Why implement a PMO that then says none of the project managers report to the PMO manager?  Why establish a governance process if it isn’t going to determine the fate of the project?  Why implement technology restrictions only to allow a select few the ability to circumvent them?  It is amazing how much waste of effort and cost can be applied to processes that do not deliver on the value promise.

To be a leader, ensure that there is a driven value out of a process.  Know what that value is and how to measure it before implementing it.  Then run the metrics to see if the process is living up to the metrics.  If not, kill it.  If so, then there is a definitive value that you can state you brought the organization.  Also, if the process exists, you must follow it just like everyone else!  That is leading.  Believe me, when you as a leader are circumventing the process, your people will know it.  Then they begin to question the leadership value that you provide.  Think about it.  Have you ever really followed and respected a leader who implements one thing and then does another?

No Day But Today,