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Enabling Maturity Step-Change with Microsoft PPM

Microsoft PPM Step Change in Maturity - Baz Khinda - Wellingtone PPM

By Baz Khinda, Wellingtone

The findings from The State of Project Management Annual Survey 2018 have been published and it includes a number of very useful insights, in particular from my perspective it’s great to see that there has been an increase from 18% in 2016 to 24% in 2018 in the number of respondents using Microsoft PPM (Project Online or Project Server), which correlates with the growth of Microsoft’s Cloud Services generally, albeit the latter experiencing higher adoption rates which is to be expected.

Being an avid reader of published reports, something else I noted was that lessons transcend functions i.e. Finance and PMO, evident when comparing two separate reports from PwC and Forrester.

The PwC report Finance Effectiveness Benchmark Report 2017 focused on how finance functions are transforming to drive business results, listed ‘Eliminating inefficiency’ as a key lesson, stating that automation and process improvement can reduce costs by 35%-46%. Top performers are making savings by investing in new technologies and ways of working.

The Forrester report The Total Economic Impact of Microsoft Office 365 PPM which focused on PMO functions, illustrated this by highlighting the benefits of Microsoft Project Online, which through research showed that organisations were able to achieve cost reduction through improved resource utilisation, better project budget control and of course through the use of cloud infrastructure.

Automation and process improvement are clearly essential to performance enhancement, however according to The State of PM Survey 2018, only 22% of the respondents are using an Enterprise PPM or Resource Management solution.

Inefficient ways of working are hurting your projects

Organisations, even Starfleet, often have finite resources at their disposal and the use of siloed, disparate solutions and manual processes are hampering their ability to deliver projects.

Efficiency requires increased visibility. However, 55% of organisations do not have access to real time project KPI’s and just over 24% of respondents are spending 1-2 days manually collating project reports, whilst just under 24% are spending more than 2 days. When asking what sets top performers apart? The PwC finance benchmark data highlighted that top performers were spending 20% more time on analysis versus data gathering.

Sticking with the PwC bechmark data, artificial intelligence was also cited as one of the technological tools that can drive transformation and we see the emergence of this in the PMO world through the introduction of PMOtto, the cutting-edge virtual assistant that revolutionises how users manage their projects and interact with project management software.

Technology is part of the solution

A software solution alone cannot drive transformation, there are two people elements that need to be factored in. First and foremost, Change Management. This is fundamental to the success of technology adoption as you are not only changing the software, but processes and ways of working too. From experience and documented best practice from Prosci, here are three main reasons to employ change management:

  • Organisational change happens one person at a time
  • Poorly managing change is costly
  • Effective change management increases the likelihood of success

You must engage with people at all levels of the organisation, involve them in the design and implementation so that they understand the ‘why’ as well as the benefits for them and the wider organisation.

Secondly, you need to invest in the people that will be using the PPM solution so that they possess the skills they need to use it effectively. However, it’s not purely about technology upskilling, you also need to ensure everyone is fully aware of the supporting processes and that they understand the fundamentals of project management. The same applies to the Subject Matter Experts who according to the State of PM Survey 2018 are often tasked with managing projects.


In summary, to make your PMO function more efficient you need to invest in both technology and people whilst remembering that change management is critical to the success of this transformation.

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