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Drive project management maturity with Microsoft Project Online

45% of project management professionals were sometimes or very dissatisfied with the current level of project management maturity in their organisation.  

This significant finding comes from The State of Project Management Annual Survey 2016 conducted by Wellingtone and the APM PMO SIG that captured the views of 317 UK organisations.

50% of professionals in the same survey scored their organisation at level 2 or lower against a 5 level project management maturity model. It's clear many organisations have very low project management maturity. This is directly reflected in poor project performance. The survey provides a clear picture of project performance with approximately one third of organisations “mostly or always” performing well, one third “about half of projects” perform well and one third projects “sometime or never” perform well.

So this isn’t great headline reading, but let’s get into the details a little further.  What are the largest challenges organisation face relating to PPM?  Again, The State of Project Management Survey provides some insight:

These probably look familiar to you and at least give you a feeling of shared experience with fellow practitioners. “Yes, we are doing too many projects”. “Yes, our resource management is an out of date, but very colourful, spreadsheet”. Phew, it’s not just me and my organisation then!

The purpose of this short series of three blog articles and accompanying webinars is to discuss how Microsoft Project Online can drive a step change in project management maturity. So if you are interested in dragging your organisation to the next level, have recently deployed Office365, or looking to build on the desktop Microsoft Project solution this is definitely for you!  

At Wellingtone we talk to our clients about defining their project management roadmap. The journey to be taken to enable a step change. What is the suite of initiatives that together can enable a step change in maturity? This short blog post cannot attempt to provide a detailed analysis but typically this includes establishing or improving:

  • Project governance (including project selection and prioritisation)
  • Project methodology (including a defined approach to running projects of varying sizes and programmes)
  • Project Management Office (including agreeing the scope of the PMO)
  • Skills and knowledge (for those asked to project manage and also sponsor projects)
  • PPM toolset (we need simplicity, visibility, collaboration and automation)
  • Community of practitioners (because each PM is not an island and knowledge sharing provides immense benefit)

So a key element of this journey is the deployment of a PPM solution. It cannot be “everything” or the “complete solution” but actually can drive major change both in terms of project information and behaviours. Your deployment can become the catalyst for a step change in project management maturity. If we look at the independent Forrester report; “The Total Economic Impact of Microsoft Office PPM” we can see how the top priorities for organisations introducing a PPM solution align well with the largest challenges data from The State of Project Management survey cited earlier.

So deploying a PPM toolset can provide a wide range of benefits that help drive change, both in terms of project information and behaviours. Key benefits include:

  • Visibility

Project information is no longer lost on a shared drive or hidden from view by the PM. Everyone can access the project site with “one version of the truth” for the project schedule, document, RAID log and shared progress updates.

  • Consistency

Projects follow defined consistent templates for the schedule, documents, even the approval stage gates and lifecycle. Project managers are guided by the organisation, rather than taking their own path.

  • Resource management

Team members can be assigned project and BAU work. These assignments can be added up to see how busy they are compared to their availability. This is also possible by role, team and department.  As plans are updated, the resource utilisation data is automatically updated.  

  • Reporting

Consistent reporting is often a struggle and time consuming.  The project highlight report or programme status report becomes a click of a button, letting project managers focus on project delivery, not project admin.

The independent Forrester report calculates ROI of 301% based on the real experience of real organisations deploying Microsoft Project Online.

At Wellingtone we see that the deployment of Microsoft Project Online is also a driver for change.  It’s not just about having a nice BI dashboard or a web site for each project.  It’s about driving project management maturity to the next level.  Establishing a solution that provides visibility of information, collaboration, enterprise wide resource management and clever reporting will result in a step change when deployed correctly.  The deployment of Microsoft Project Online is not “just” a software project but a powerful business change.

Food for thought
Take a step back. Consider your organisation and the current level of project management maturity. How well can you answer these questions?  Be honest!

  • How many projects are currently running?  Is there is a single, central, up to date list (project register)?
  • Are projects run in a consistent way based on a scalable project management methodology? Who approved these projects?
  • Is there a project schedule for each project and is this baselined at the end of the planning stage?
  • If you approved a new project, how would the impact on resource demand versus availability be assessed? Do you have a very colourful, but out of date, resource spreadsheet?
  • Is there a consistent & efficient approach to project document management? Can all team members easily access and interact with project documents, tasks, RAID log?

Maybe project management maturity in your organisation could be improved?  Our next article will look in more detail about how you can achieve consistency, visibility and collaboration with Microsoft Project Online and will include an invite to our first of two short webinars to give you a real insight into what is possible. 

In the meantime, some bedtime reading:

The State of Project Management Annual Survey 

Forrester Report; The Total Economic Impact of Microsoft Office 365 PPM.


This blog is written and sponsored by Microsoft. Vince Hines is director of Wellingtone Project Management who are a Microsoft GOLD Certified Partner with Project and Portfolio Management Specialisation.

5 comments

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  1. Vince Hines
    Vince Hines 04 May 2016, 10:29 AM

    Your comment is factually incorrect.  Independent research conducted by Forrester shows the implementation of the Microsoft PPM solution provides a NPV of $6,279,113, translating to an NPV of $4,100 per user per year.  This is based on real customer experience and real benefits data.  The report also demonstrates additional benefits such as increased project management performance, reduced infrastructure costs and better resource management.  A PPM solution is not about "automating" project managers...we are not replacing PMs with software, rather we are enabling then to focus on high value activities rather than time consuming work such as manual report creation....that's the point of a tool!  Equally deploying a PPM solution is a driver for consistency in approach, therefore signficiantly supporting the deployment of project management methodology and maturity.   I am happy to share with you case studies, customer reviews and customer feedback from our clients about their experience and the benefits they have realised.  You commented that "tools don't solve problems"....its a very poor tool that doesn't solve a problem!  I note you were the MD of a competing software solution for many years so your position on the general uselessness of tools is surprising.  Feel free to email me directly for further information but anyone can download a copy of the Forrester Report http://www.wellingtone.co.uk/total-economic-impact-microsoft-office-365-ppm/ 

  2. Patrick Weaver
    Patrick Weaver 07 May 2016, 10:44 AM

    I think I prefer Bill Gate's approach to that of a sale person marketing software. 

  3. Vince Hines
    Vince Hines 04 May 2016, 11:37 AM

    We will be running a webinar showing Microsoft Project Online, part of the Microsoft PPM solution suite, on the 19th of May where we will demonstrate how the tool can help drive project management maturity through collaboration, consistency and visibility of project data.  Please do register once further details are posted on this blog so you can see for yourself  :-)

  4. Patrick Weaver
    Patrick Weaver 30 April 2016, 08:12 AM

    Why would anyone wnat to use one of the least effective tools in the market to 'drive project managment maturity'?  Tools don;t solve problems or create maturity - Bill Gates had a few words on this fallacy "The first rule of any technology used in business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second rule is that automation applied to an inneficient system will magnify the inneficiency". 

  5. Vince Hines
    Vince Hines 04 May 2016, 10:29 AM

    Your comment is factually incorrect.  Independent research conducted by Forrester shows the implementation of the Microsoft PPM solution provides a NPV of $6,279,113, translating to an NPV of $4,100 per user per year.  This is based on real customer experience and real benefits data.  The report also demonstrates additional benefits such as increased project management performance, reduced infrastructure costs and better resource management.  A PPM solution is not about "automating" project managers...we are not replacing PMs with software, rather we are enabling then to focus on high value activities rather than time consuming work such as manual report creation....that's the point of a tool!  Equally deploying a PPM solution is a driver for consistency in approach, therefore signficiantly supporting the deployment of project management methodology and maturity.   I am happy to share with you case studies, customer reviews and customer feedback from our clients about their experience and the benefits they have realised.  You commented that "tools don't solve problems"....its a very poor tool that doesn't solve a problem!  I note you were the MD of a competing software solution for many years so your position on the general uselessness of tools is surprising.  Feel free to email me directly for further information but anyone can download a copy of the Forrester Report http://www.wellingtone.co.uk/total-economic-impact-microsoft-office-365-ppm/