UMT360 Blog

Blog Posts from the Leader in Enterprise Portfolio Management

Archive for December, 2013

UMT360 for Project Server Data Sheet Now Available

Written by Ben Chamberlain on December 23rd, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Built on the Microsoft SharePoint Server, UMT360 helps companies get more value from their Project Server investments.  It helps companies digitalize investment planning and controls to gain complete financial transparency across their project and program portfolios.  Check out the new UMT360 Data Sheet  – Project and Portfolio Financial Intelligence for Microsoft Project Server.  If you have any questions about how UMT360 can help your organization, contact our UMT360 sales team at sales@umt360.com.

Planning for a Stronger PPM in 2014

Written by Ben Chamberlain on December 16th, 2013 at 2:30 pm

As we wrap up 2013 and start to think about our plans for 2014, it’s time for businesses to take a look at their PPM and consider how it can be improved for the new year.  In a recent UMT360 video, our Chief Product and Marketing Officer Ben Chamberlain was joined by featured Gartner Analyst Daniel Stang to talk about what’s missing from traditional PPM, how PPM is changing and what businesses can add to their PPM to help ensure they’re maximizing the ROI they get from strategic initiatives.  Check out the video presentation and find out what you can do strategically in 2014 to get more value from your PPM investment.

UMT Positioned as Visionary in Gartner’s IIPA Magic Quadrant

Written by Ben Chamberlain on December 10th, 2013 at 10:50 am

UMT has been positioned as a Visionary in Gartner’s newly released 2013 Integrated IT Portfolio Analysis (IIPA) Magic Quadrant.  Visionaries are described as demonstrating a strong vision for innovative thinking around holistic, configurable IT portfolio management.

UMT360 CEO Mike Gruia said, “we are pleased to be recognized in this report as we have worked to ensure UMT360 for IT delivers the most complete and intelligent digital solution for driving transparency and improving investment decisions across IT portfolios of projects, applications, IT services and assets.  UMT360 solutions combine three converging factors – strategic, financial and architectural – that have a transformative impact across all industries we work with.  Our customers say it gives them the tools and knowledge to determine the optimum level of IT spending, better communicate the value of IT and more effectively collaborate with the business to plan their multi-year investments and deliver exceptional results.”

The company’s president Catalin Olteanu added that UMT360’s IIPA market share is significant particularly within the Microsoft installed base.  “We’re seeing, as do industry analysts, so many organizations now ready to embrace portfolio management capabilities. Our strategic decision was to build our solutions on the SharePoint platform and it’s paying off.  Organizations using SharePoint discover in UMT360 a familiar user experience and increased value from their underlying platform investment.”

As Microsoft does not have its own IIPA product, UMT360 for IT is often a natural vehicle for those Microsoft customers seeking to integrate their IT project, application, asset and service portfolios to ensure investments align with business objectives.  “UMT360 for IT takes SharePoint and Project Server beyond PPM to help CIOs analyze all assets across portfolios, consolidate IT demand and effectively deliver the resulting transformation initiatives,” said Ludo Hauduc, General Manager of Microsoft Project.

Click here for the full UMT360 media release.  Tour this site for more information about UMT360 products and solutions or contact our sales department at sales@umt360.com for more information or to set up a demo.

How PFI helps align IT spending with corporate strategy.

Written by Ben Chamberlain on December 4th, 2013 at 1:54 pm

When Frank La Rocca was named VP at a major northeastern utility company, the CFO and COO told him they wanted to ensure that IT spending was aligned with corporate strategy.  It’s a goal that has stayed in the back of his mind ever since – the need to understand or measure the alignment factor.  This driver is at the core of what’s becoming known as Portfolio Financial Intelligence (PFI).

La Rocca quickly learned that the answers to the bigger questions on portfolio strategic alignment, total portfolio spend and value were not as readily available as one might expect.  “The answers had to be culled from many different systems and spreadsheets and from interviewing the right people,” he explained.

La Rocca sought out solutions to provide the financial transparency he needed to have the right conversations and ultimately make smarter decisions about the portfolio’s management and investments.  Incorporating this Portfolio Financial Intelligence (PFI) was essential to achieving the goals within his department and supporting the organization’s overall strategy.

To institute PFI, La Rocca identified four main challenges that the organization had to address.

  • The Demand Management and Selection Process – Projects selected were not always the most strategic or had the best financial return.  “Often times, the funding would go to the project with the strongest sales pitch and slideware.”
  • Improved Financial Governance – Standardizing the workflow, cost/benefit analysis and authorization associated with business cases.
  • Annual Planning, Poor Forecasting and Inaccurate Cost/Benefits Estimates – People overestimated benefits to get projects approved and were rarely held accountable.  There were very few standards around the process.
  • Siloed Financial Data and Spreadsheets – Spreadsheets required manual intervention to get at data when time may be better spent on analytical rather than tactical spreadsheet work.

He recommends that organizations begin by building a financial management foundation so they’re able to access the financial data even if initially in spreadsheets.  La Rocca created a standard repository and required that any business case being considered go through the new process.  “Ensuring you have only one method of accepting a project proposal levels the playing field,” he explained.  “There can be no back door to financial governance.”

In order to effectively compare the wide array of capital projects, he helped establish a ‘strategic value currency’ which enabled his company to quantifiably compare the benefit of doing one project over another.  “The strategic value currency helped ensure that strategic alignment and removed the subject nature from the business case development.”   To do this, La Rocca and his team looked at the strategic development within the company, mined corporate statements to identify business drivers, prioritized the drivers through a pairwise analysis with the company leadership, then used those to rank the project proposals before them.

He also spent a significant amount of time defining key metrics, determining how to develop trends and analytics to improve metrics, and establishing the base line so that they could set and communicate targets to improve.  He found success in publishing those metrics and data internally to ensure people were accountable.

Perhaps most impactful was his decision in 2012 to institute a ‘sweep process’ to allow for dynamic budget reallocation.  “It allows project managers to release funds dynamically during the year and secure those funds for other projects.  Once we know a project is not going to use that money, we take it, we sweep it away and we invest it strategically in another project.”  He says that allowed the utility to increase its utilization though it required a culture change early on.  “The sweep process is really where we get a lot of bang for our buck and if I were to describe the process, it’s really breaking the annual budgeting planning mold.  We had so many project managers say ‘that estimate you’re holding me accountable for , we did that so early on when we didn’t really know a lot about the project yet, now that the project is executing, you’re still holding me accountable and that’s not fair.’  What we allow them to do is literally reforecast on a quarterly basis and give up money that we can use for other projects.”

For more on Frank La Rocca’s PFI experiences at Con Edison, view his webinar series by clicking here.