UMT360 Blog

Blog Posts from the Leader in Enterprise Portfolio Management

Archive for March, 2014

Adopting a Dual Investment System

Written by Ben Chamberlain on March 31st, 2014 at 2:31 pm

When it comes to aligning investments with company strategy, organizations need to take a hard look at their existing system for managing investments.  The current business operating system includes products and services, and capabilities such as processes and assets.  What’s needed is an additional investment system capable of addressing both rapid change and challenges created by competition.  The second investment system, comprised of an investment portfolio, will continually assess the business, industry and the organization and will react with greater agility, speed and creativity than the existing PPM process.

There are three main principles of this dual investment system:

  1. Two systems, one organization
    The business operating and enterprise investment systems must be inseparable with a constant flow of information and collaboration.
  2. Greater financial management
    Financial management must go beyond project management and accountability to a completion plan.
  3. Many moving parts, not just the project and its tasks
    To move more quickly and link the business operating and investment systems, you must have more people than ever before collaborating and involved in the strategic game change.

To learn more about the differences between a project and product-focus and the benefits of adopting a product-based approach, read UMT360 CEO Mike Gruia’s complimentary whitepaper Should You Shift from a Project to Product-Based Investment Approach now available here.

UMT360 Provides a Better View of Project Financials

Written by Ben Chamberlain on March 31st, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Fortune 500 manufacturer of agricultural and farming equipment, AGCO, was having trouble base-lining their portfolio every year.  The issues associated with identifying just what they had in their portfolio sent the company in search of an enterprise PPM solution.   For portfolio management, they had been relying on what amounted to an Excel dump of the data; issues and risks were maintained in Excel but didn’t connect to the portfolio, and reporting was done in in PowerPoint requiring project managers to spend countless hours score-carding and updating PowerPoints for various audiences.

AGCO selected Microsoft Project Server for its PPM with UMT360 on top of it to address two key priorities – providing the financial management and configurable workflows they needed.  UMT360 also provided them with a range of new capabilities including robust investment management, aggregation, project budget/forecast/actuals, benefits planning and realization, data import, change management and financial reporting.  The company says with the visibility UMT360 provides, it’s been able to dramatically enhance its understanding of project financials and, of particular interest to the CIO, is the portfolio view that includes all projects with the ability to filter the data in numerous ways such as by cost or region.  They’re now focusing on applying some of new capabilities that came with UMT360 such as benefits management.  Click here to read more about AGCO’s experience.

Interested in learning more about UMT360?  Contact us today for more information or to schedule a free demo.

What’s Driving Benefits Realization?

Written by Ben Chamberlain on March 28th, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Today’s businesses are moving away from a focus on measuring project results and towards a focus on business benefits.  Senior managers want to know how investments align with business metrics and will impact the business.   There’s a lot of discussion about organizations instituting benefits realization frameworks to ensure investments deliver real business value.   As organizations begin to build a benefits realization framework, they need to be aware of the elements that will influence its success.

  1. Investments Driven by Business Objectives:  An organization with an investment strategy driven by objectives will first look at business perspective and goals then shop for investments which will meet those objectives.
  2. Relevant Business Case:  The business case helps ensure the right investments are funded.  A thorough and accurate business case will address the dependency of outcomes on cost or revenue based drivers.
  3. The Benefits Realization Process and Governance:  Rather than focusing on an isolated project, start thinking in terms of portfolios, the full project management lifecycle and accountability for benefits realization.
  4. Reliable Metrics:  Know what’s going on throughout the project, asset or product lifecycle and be in control of those investments.
  5. Technology Capable of Digitalizing Aspects of Benefits Realization:  Improving processes and motivation isn’t enough to improve benefits realization.  Powerful software solutions are needed to aggregate metrics at program and portfolio levels, deliver the business case and enable process and governance.

Knowing what will help benefits realization succeed, businesses can move forward with an audit of their existing system to see where improvements should be made.  A change will likely be required to move from a system which has long said it is measuring project success to one which looks at the bigger picture, the portfolio view, and works to ensure projects and investments deliver true business value.

Want to know more about Benefits Realization?  Read UMT360 CEO Mike Gruia’s white paper, The Benefits Realization Crisis, for a look at how organizations should get started.  Click here to download.

Three Hurdles to Benefits Realization

Written by Ben Chamberlain on March 25th, 2014 at 2:00 pm

A recent UMT360 webinar on Project and Portfolio Financial Controls for Project Server included discussion of the need for a benefits realization framework.  It’s a topic of intense interest as businesses focus on getting the most out of their investments. Executives want to be assured that they’re getting 100% of the benefits promised and that those benefits are being delivered when expected. So, what’s keeping businesses from realizing benefits?

In working with clients over the years, UMT360 has seen clear themes emerge as to why businesses fail to achieve investment benefits. Most seem to face three main hurdles.

  1. Stakeholder Involvement, Commitment and Engagement
    In many cases, once a project is funded, no one is responsible for benefits realization. There has to be accountability, a clear vision and agreement on objectives.
  2. Lack of a Proven Benefits Realization Process
    No one understands how to manage the benefits lifecycle or there’s a lack of management support for a formal benefits realization process.
  3. Uncertainty
    Market conditions, scope and resources change along with the inherent challenges associated with defining and managing soft or non-financial benefits.

Benefits realization is key to ensuring businesses get the expected payoff from investments. Learn more about how to get started with Benefits Realization by reading UMT360 CEO Mike Gruia’s white paper The Benefits Realization Crisis.  Click here to download.   Did you miss the webinar?  Click here to view it and learn how Adding Project and Portfolio Financial Controls to Microsoft Project Server can help you realize more ROI from your PPM investment.

Project & Portfolio Financial Controls for Microsoft Project Server

Written by Ben Chamberlain on March 21st, 2014 at 8:00 am

In March, UMT360’s Chief Product and Marketing Officer Ben Chamberlain presented a webinar showing Project Server customers how UMT360 can help them gain complete financial intelligence across their project portfolios and increase ROI.   Ben discussed how UMT360 helps eliminate the need for Excel and standardizes investment governance controls across the PPM lifecycle, streamlines capital planning, and helps build stronger business cases and a benefits realization framework.  Click here to view this complimentary webinar for Microsoft Project Server customers.  UMT360 is built on the SharePoint platform and is the only enterprise portfolio management solution to provide seamless integration with Project Server.

 

 

PPM in 2014 is All about Value

Written by Ben Chamberlain on March 19th, 2014 at 9:44 am

When looking at PPM in 2014, there is one dominant trend – a focus on value.  Speaking at the recent Microsoft Project Conference in Anaheim, Gartner Analyst Donna Fitzgerald told a standing room only crowd that what clients are doing today, simply isn’t good enough.  Improvement depends on an ability to deliver value.

Fitzgerald used Gartner’s maturity scale to tell the story.  She said in order to climb the scale and move from a place where organizations are delivering consistency and process controls to a point where they’re delivering innovation and a continuous stream of value, people need to truly understand how value is defined in their organization.  She explained that there is a chasm between levels 2 and 3 of the maturity scale and in order to bridge that chasm, businesses need to focus on value and better portfolio management which includes value quantification.

“In organizations the focus is now shifting to what is competitive advantage…that makes the success of the planned investments more important,” Fitzgerald said.  She added that the new view of success isn’t about the completion of a project but rather value being generated which requires that projects deliver the enablers not ROI and she emphasized, earning maximum value requires change.

Fitzgerald said that by the time many organizations see the need to change, it’s too late.  “This is our window to move fast and start making changes.”  Among changes she says need to happen are existing practices such as project approval.  Before projects are approved, the business must be clear on what substantive value they’re delivering then establish a tracking mechanism and dynamic reviews to ensure projects stay on track to deliver that planned value.

How do you measure value?  Fitzgerald went through three key points.

  1. Value is not always financial but is expressed in measurable terms – financial or other.
  2. PMO needs tools and information to realize the value – “box checkers” won’t cut it.
  3. The PMO must design the support systems to support value goals – virtual business cases, strategy and value statements and deliverable-based milestones.

She stressed that value generation and benefits realization are not synonymous.  Benefits are contingent on factors outside of the project but measuring value delivered by a project can include a contributor or enabler of a program and is monitored throughout the life of a project.

Her rules for measuring value and financial management capabilities:

  • Projects and programs are approved in portfolio context only
  • Projects are evaluated for the degree to which they support strategy
  • Each project defines how benefits realization process is tracked
  • The portfolio supports dynamic reviews
  • Project/program has to include all changes to get it done, not siloed to different areas

Fitzgerald said it’s time to adopt an enterprise perspective and find a way to provide visibility people can understand.  Although the integrated portfolio approach has been discussed for years, she said today, it’s an imperative.  “The PMO of the future will be a portfolio office…it will think and speak in the language of money, it will be consultative and analytical, it will understand value and how the business can generate it.”  She went on to say that the PMO office will be capable of determining when an investment is going south before it’s too late and is not afraid of confrontation.

Her closing recommendations:

  1. Learn the language of money – adopt a financial focus to support value generation.
  2. Develop a collaborative approach to the business case that focuses on measurable value.
  3. Have a portfolio tool to support value and a strategic focus.
  4. Portfolio transparency and visibility is critical and ensures funding decisions are made in a portfolio context.
  5. Look at product management which provides a longer term perspective and ensures your analysis includes all interdependencies.

“Fundamentally you’ve got to make sure that the analysis is there to support good decision making.”

Learn more about how UMT360 is helping businesses get more value from PPM and Project Server.
UMT360 is built on  SharePoint and is the only Enterprise Portfolio Solution to offer seamless integration with Project Server.  If you’re a Project Server customer, be sure to check out our webpages on UMT360 for Project Server.

UMT360 Announces the Hiring of Carrie Clements

Written by Ben Chamberlain on March 17th, 2014 at 2:51 pm

UMT360 is pleased to announce the hiring of Carrie Clements who has been named UMT360’s Director of Business Development.  Carrie will partner with enterprise field reps to synch up on sales strategy, expectations, timing, etc., meet sales quota within installed client and prospect accounts, quantify and qualify target companies in relation to their need for UMT360 products, sell the benefits of the IT Financials solutions we provide to existing and potential clients, and assist regional sales managers in responding to RFPs and RFIs.   Prior to joining UMT360, she was a Team Lead, Inside Sales professional who partnered with marketing and sales management at Apptio. Carrie managed a pipeline, quota, reported on qualifications and stayed informed on company products and others within the IT financial management industry. Carrie can be reached at carrie.clements@umt360.com.

Interested in joining the UMT360 team?  Learn more here or contact UMT360 at 425.590.9901.

Rationalize & Get More Business Value from Your Applications – March 18th

Written by Ben Chamberlain on March 10th, 2014 at 8:00 am

Today, more than a third of IT budgets are consumed by applications with half of that dedicated to maintaining legacy systems which, in so many cases, don’t align with current business needs.    As a result, executives are turning to Application Portfolio Management (APM) to rationalize their operational costs, modernize their applications and better align with business priorities and needs.   In a webinar now available on-demand, UMT360’s Ben Chamberlain demonstrates how UMT360’s APM is helping businesses get more business value from their application portfolios.

He will show how UMT360 helps you:
  • build an application inventory and maintain key metrics
  • derive total cost of ownership of each application
  • identify redundancies across the portfolio
  • use TIME analysis techniques to rationalize the portfolio
  • capture lifecycle decisions in powerful transformation roadmaps

Click here to view the complimentary webinar on Application Portfolio Management and for more information about UMT360, contact us today.

SP1 (2014 release) for UMT360 for SharePoint 2013

Written by admin on March 5th, 2014 at 4:32 pm

The UMT360 SP1 for SharePoint 2013 includes a significant set of major changes and the upgrade from earlier versions should be planned and validated in line with the approach for any other version-to-version upgrade. A thorough testing of the upgrade steps and existing customizations should be performed in a non-production environment first.

UMT360 SP1 further differentiates the Financials and Portfolios modules with key new scenarios and capabilities included for both:

UMT360 Financials Improvements and New Features

  • Financial Timeline Management Improvements:
    • Ability to contract the timeline while in execution for EFTs (e.g. Cost)
    • Ability to modify the timeline for Breakdowns before and after execution
  • Snapshot Improvements:
    • Modifying the financial date range will not impact previously created snapshots
  • Financial Data and Governance Improvements:
    • Ability to edit financial values only at the pre-specified workflow stage detail level or below it
    • Updated formulas for Actuals Financial Custom Fields
    • Ability to reset the execution status of in-flight projects
    • Ability to update settings for existing projects without the need for workflow restart
    • Ability to update Mapped Custom Fields for existing projects on demand
  • Enhance Data Import Module:
    • Ability to import data into Breakdowns and Financial Custom Fields
  • Manage Financial Status Periods:
    • Updated status period reporting process workflow
    • Improved central administration page to lock/open/edit status periods at the portfolio level
  • Integration with Project Server:
    • Include Enterprise level mappings between Project Server resources and UMT360 financial categories
  • Report Center
  • Security:
    • Automatically sync CALs with Security Groups
  • Configuration:
    • Introduce Entity Types as the central object in UMT360 bringing together EPTs, SharePoint Lists, SharePoint Site Templates
  • UI Enhancements:
    • Ability to collapse/expand Financial Custom Fields in Breakdowns
    • Hide Unallocated cost center by default
  • Reporting Improvements:
    • Include new data sets in the reporting tables and OLAP Databases, like custom snapshots, full financial values, etc.

UMT360 Portfolios Improvements and New Features

  • Governance Workflows for SharePoint entities
    • UMT360 defined stages along with the ability to configure the financial governance on each workflow stage
    • UMT360 defined forms and the ability to show/hide forms on a workflow stage by stage basis
  • Other new features:
    • Portfolios (groupings of Entity Types)
    • Portfolio Center
    • Surveys
    • Visual Roadmap and Transformation Decisions

Visit the version history page for version details.

Customers and Partners can download the 2014 release via the online portals on www.umt360.com.

 

Cumulative Update 4 (CU4) for UMT Project Essentials 2012

Written by Alexandra Schiopu on March 3rd, 2014 at 10:22 pm

We are pleased to announce the release of the UMT Project Essentials 2012 Cumulative Update 4 (CU4). This update includes a number of fixes, therefore UMT strongly recommends that you test this in a test environment based on your production environment before putting this fix live in production.

Here’s the list of fixes and improvements addressed:

  • Core Financial functionality
    • Fixed issue with Actual values not been overwritten in Forecast when a financial reporting period is approved
    • Improved behavior on distributing values among Unallocated, cost centers and node totals
  • Performance and Reliability
    • Addressed issues with the Cost Center management page when using a large number of Cost Centers (more than 1,000)
    • Removed the need for escalated permissions when defining new relationships
    • Addressed financial data aggregation issues when users had limited permissions on linked entities
    • Improved performance on showing Budget columns in the Actuals web part
    • Improved reliability on workflow stage transition when ‘Project has write lock’ behavior was triggered
    • Fixed unexpected errors when using the Workflow.StageEntered event

Visit the version history page for version details.

Customers and Partners can download CU4 via the online portals on www.umt360.com.