UMT360 Blog

Blog Posts from the Leader in Enterprise Portfolio Management

Archive for February, 2014

Should You Shift from a Project to Product-Based Investment Approach?

Written by Ben Chamberlain on February 27th, 2014 at 5:00 pm

It’s been a topic of discussion by industry analysts in recent days – businesses making the move from a project to product-based investment approach. What’s the difference? In his latest white paper, UMT360 CEO Mike Gruia explains why the project-focused project and portfolio management (PPM) processes which organizations have used for the last decade are no longer up to the task of winning in a fast-paced world. In fact, he asserts, they can impede attempts to compete in a marketplace where the speed of innovation and product discontinuities are more frequent and problems arise continuously.

Click here to read the white paper and learn why it’s important to begin a move toward a product-based approach, the differences between the two approaches and how your organization can begin the transition.

Save the Date – Upcoming UMT360 Webinars on Getting More Value from Your Portfolio

Written by Ben Chamberlain on February 21st, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Registration has just opened for two upcoming UMT360 webinars.  Register today and learn how to deliver more value for your organization.

Save the Date for an April 15th webinar on Going Beyond PPM by Embracing Enterprise Portfolio Management.  Registration will open soon.

The Slowdown of the Project Idea Machine

Written by Mike Gruia on February 17th, 2014 at 12:31 pm

IT spending is back up.  Gartner reports the average IT spending increased by 4% in 2012 and is expected to increase by another 3.1% this year (Gartner Market Databook 4Q13 Update) reaching $3.8 trillion.  The revival in IT spending suggests that progress is proceeding quickly so it may come as a surprise that many believe that innovation is stagnant and the rate of innovation has been slowing for decades.

The argument that organizations are not innovating runs along two lines.  The first comes from growth statistics.  Growth can be divided into two different types, “run the business” and “grow and transform the business.”  “Run the Business” is about keeping the operations alive by adding more labor, capital and resources.  “Grow and transform the business” is powered by the discovery of ever better ways to use workers and resources.  This is the sort of investment that allows continuous improvement in revenue and enables a company to grow.  At the moment, it appears there is less investment in “grow and transform” because most of the available funds are being consumed by the “run the business” expense.

The cynics’ second line of argument is based on how much invention is taking place.  Our experience indicates that innovation can be attributed to the availability of breakthrough technologies and the ability to effectively apply them to business needs.  Because neither factor can continue endless growth without some new factor coming into play, innovation is likely to slow.  Some suspect that the innovation doldrums may be rooted in the way projects are created.  I would argue that the stagnation is masking a deeper stagnation rooted in the project portfolio management process.  The first step in this process is to create opportunities for investment.  For all the technology existing out there, it seemed that organizations had run out of ideas.  The bottom-up approach does not generate valuable ideas.

Reason for Optimism

Closer analysis of innovation processes in IT suggests reason for optimism.  Full exploitation of IT cannot be based only on individual heroics.  Effective innovation technology is based on optimizing what they are actually doing and that is what matters to the company.

One potential culprit of the slow innovation is lack of a methodical and easy way to generate the demand portfolios, which allows scanning the current IT applications and infrastructure portfolio and recognizing improvements and transformation opportunities. Given the right leadership conditions, this is a process that can be transformed.

Enterprise integration software is increasingly good at performing the tasks of integrating all business and IT layers and in modeling and analyzing the total organizational effect of investments.  Isolated and local sub-optimum portfolios are vulnerable.  The success of software like UMT360, which provides a complete portfolio perspective and promotes smarter decisions, will encourage further movement to a new era of effective innovation.  Even if the shift from generating projects at the project level to generating projects at the application level is difficult, the rise of the collaboration in the enterprise is among the biggest reasons for optimism.  The larger the group of people collaborating, the greater the opportunity to identify new ideas and apply them across more activities and individuals.

Learn more about UMT360’s Enterprise Portfolio Management solutions or contact us for details about how UMT360 can help your business make smarter portfolio investment decisions.

 

The Evolution of Portfolio Analytics

Written by Ben Chamberlain on February 14th, 2014 at 12:03 pm

UMT360 CEO Mike Gruia talked a bit about the history of UMT360 when he introduced Gartner’s Donna Fitzgerald recently at the Microsoft Project Conference in Anaheim.  Below is his introduction during which he discussed UMT’s history in the evolution of portfolio analytics.

I’ve been fortunate to be involved with portfolio topics for the last 20 years.  It started with a question from an executive at Chase Manhattan.  I was there re-engineering the process of the trust business and he asked me what I thought would be next after re-engineering business processes.  I said next will be the re-engineering of the investment in enterprise capabilities.

UMT led the project management transformation from project management focused mainly on scheduling to project and portfolio management concerned, not only with project execution, but also with the portfolio and alignment with enterprise strategy.  The shift was not an easy one; we had to convince many people but some time after the new millennium, all agreed.

I’ve been fortunate together with my colleagues Catalin Olteanu and Ben Chamberlain, to be involved with bringing portfolio management to thousands of organizations.  How did it happen?  UMT portfolio management software and our team was acquired by Microsoft in 2006.  I was thrilled to be part of the team that merged Project Server and the Portfolio Server into one product released in 2010 as Microsoft Project Server.

A few years later, the winds changed again and as a result of the financial crisis and the rapid emergence of new technologies like cloud, social, and big data, organizations are looking to grow.  This time, they’re cautious with their spending and they want to see business results.  Benefits realization started to emerge.

Again, like 15 years ago, we saw the focus change from isolated projects to, not just project portfolios, but also to total organization portfolios.  I see a change in the horizontal addressing all investment – new projects and existing IT investments such as existing applications and infrastructure, or in the business side, assets and products.  I see vertical aggregation where projects and current investments are aligned to achieve a common objective like customer satisfaction.

The shifts require a new set of models that allow you to see an integrated view of the enterprise or of certain objectives, strong financial analysis capabilities, and the ability to synchronize the huge change and create roadmaps.  These shits along with the increased need for agile development and management require new thinking and new solutions.

UMT360 is please to be an Enterprise Portfolio Management solution leading the way and the only such solution built on SharePoint with seamless Project Server integration.  Contact UMT360 to learn more.

Application Portfolio Management Webinar Now Available On-Demand

Written by Ben Chamberlain on February 13th, 2014 at 11:59 am

Mike Gruia, UMT360

With pressure to do more with less, IT leaders are turning to Application Portfolio Management (APM) to help them rationalize the operational costs so they can allocate more funds toward innovation.  APM is also helping them modernize their portfolios so they have the agility needed to successfully meet changing business demands.

Recently, UMT360 CEO Mike Gruia discussed in an APM webinar, 3 Breakthrough Models being used by APM Top Performers.  Mike stressed the importance of finding more effective ways to manage applications which currently consume a major portion of an organization’s IT budget.   Top performers are able to apply the three models to make smarter investment decisions.

  1. Portfolio Integration – explore relationships that exist between the business and IT portfolios
  2. Financial Intelligence – understand the cost of operations and change
  3. Roadmap Synchronization – record and communicate decisions across an application’s lifecycle

Webinar Poll Results:  When asked about the most important APM success attributes, 63% of webinar attendees said integration tops their list.   55% of attendees said APM concepts will benefit them most in strategy and rationalization with 28% saying their benefit will be primarily in cost reduction.

Learn more about how to get started implementing Application Portfolio Management.  Click here to view Mike’s presentation on-demand.

Microsoft Project Server & UMT360

Written by Ben Chamberlain on February 10th, 2014 at 4:42 pm

The  Director of Development for Microsoft’s Project Server Ludovic Hauduc was in the UMT360 offices recently and took a moment to talk about UMT360 as a Microsoft Partner and how our product is helping Project Server customers get more value from their PPM investment.  UMT360 is the only Enterprise Portfolio Management solution built on SharePoint with seamless Project Server integration.

 

Click here to learn more about how UMT360 is helping Project Server customers get more value from their PPM investment.

How to get Started Integrating Project Financial Controls

Written by Ben Chamberlain on February 6th, 2014 at 8:22 am

At this week’s Microsoft Project Conference in Anaheim, attendees packed into the session about Benefits Realization wanting to know what they can do to better achieve project and portfolio benefits.  UMT360’s Ben Chamberlain presented the Benefits Realization session and told the crowd that it is essential to start looking at projects as business investments.  That means you have to begin to integrate financial management capabilities with PPM so that financial controls are in place to make you aware of issues so you can make needed adjustments throughout the life cycle to ensure benefits realization.

Ben suggested that organizations take a phased approach to integrating financial controls:

  1. Establish the Financial Management Foundation – Establish your financial structures, cost benefit, investment governance, controls and integrate within your PPM system, your planning and execution system.  Have the data related to your strategic initiatives in one place.
  2. Integrate with System of Record – The ERP system plays a very important role in providing the actual cost information for a project.
  3. Automate Management Reports – Time taken to build reports takes time away from analysis so automating the reports allows the PMO to focus on more strategic elements of the process.
  4. Analyze/Optimize Capital Spend – Use variance analysis to help you dynamically reallocate funds based on the overall project performance to continuously maximize value and the ROI you’re getting from your portfolio.

Ben’s presentation is available here.  Want to learn more?  Contact UMT360 for a free demo to see how it works.

Talking Benefits Realization at the Microsoft Project Conference

Written by Ben Chamberlain on February 5th, 2014 at 4:22 pm

In a packed session in this week’s 2014 Microsoft Project Conference in Anaheim, UMT360’s Chief Product and Marketing Officer Ben Chamberlain talked about the importance of benefits realization and how UMT360 is helping organizations better achieve that.

Industry analysts agree that there’s an issue with organizations not realizing benefits from their investments – PPM is simply not delivering anticipated results.  Ben told the crowd that he feels one of the key reasons for this is the failure to look at projects as business investments.

“Today’s PMO tends to be more focused on some of the tactical aspects of the project such as resource management, schedule management, issue risk management and so forth… I’m not downplaying the importance of those metrics and activities. What I am saying is that if we believe these things to be business investments, we have to up level the importance of financial management and financial intelligence.”

Integrating financial management capabilities with PPM helps businesses effectively gauge the economic impact of under-performing projects and take corrective action.  Ben noted that one of the barriers to entry is the use of inadequate tools to integrate financial management and PPM including Excel, ERP systems and PPM systems themselves.

“Excel spreadsheets are disconnected, error prone, difficult to govern, report against and so forth.  ERP systems are still the system of record and should be treated so, but it’s really designed for the finance team not to provide the PPM teams with the financial views they need.  And traditional PPM systems are designed for strong execution oriented PPM capabilities but often lack the sophistication needed to effectively manage project and financial controls.”

UMT360 eliminates the need for Excel and better connects the ERP and PPM systems to provide integrated project and portfolio financial controls across the entire life cycle.  It helps build investment governance across the life cycle to manage costs, benefits and other needed financial structures; it helps build more reliable business cases and improve portfolio selection; and finally helps to more effectively track costs, look at variance analysis.

UMT360’s dashboard looks at the portfolio level and reveals whether an organization is achieving benefits – you can see where you are from a benefits realization perspective with respect to forecasts and which projects are under-performing from a benefit point of view.   Want to see what that looks like?  Click here to see Ben Chamberlain’s presentation which includes a mini-demo of the benefits realization features.

Reflecting on Microsoft’s 2006 Acquisition of UMT Innovation

Written by Ben Chamberlain on February 3rd, 2014 at 2:51 pm

The UMT360 team is enjoying a great first day at the Microsoft Project Conference in Anaheim, CA.  An energetic response to this morning’s keynote presentations from the GM for Microsoft Office Jared Spataro and the Director of Development for Project Server Ludovic Hauduc. Among highlights, talk about how these are days of rapid innovation and it’s time to look at how project and portfolio management fits in.

Also part of this morning’s conference opening was a look at Microsoft Project and the UMT-developed portfolio optimization capabilities that Microsoft acquired back in 2006.  Ludovic Hauduc commented on the 2006 acquisition recently saying, “What [the acquisition of UMT technology] did to the team was… to bring years of talent and expertise in the portfolio and project management area which to this day is something that is paying off in helping us understand the deep scenarios that allow customers to increase ROI, increase the value of their investment, and also continue delivering capabilities in the product such as Project 2013 which we released last year and Project Online which is available today as part of 365.”

Today, UMT360 is continuing to help Microsoft customers get more value from their PPM investments.  Visit us at Project Conference to learn more or email us at sales@umt360.com.

Announcement from UMT360 Partner – Project Hosts

Written by Ben Chamberlain on February 1st, 2014 at 5:01 pm

UMT360 partner Project Hosts today announced it has Private Custom Clouds available for UMT360’s complete line of Enterprise Portfolio Management Solutions at Project Conference 2014.  You can read Project Hosts’ full press release at http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1714870.    If you are attending the Microsoft Project Conference in Anaheim starting tomorrow, visit UMT360 at booth 501.