Project Plan - Gant ChartThe successful implementation of a PPM software solution depends less on the product’s strengths and weaknesses and more on how mature your PPM processes and practices are within your organization.  Try asking yourself, is it you or the application that has caused your process problems.  You must truly understand your requirements, how the application would integrate into your environment, how to tackle phase based releases (prioritize), and how to communicate and present the change to the organization.  Most of all, you need to know how your organization conducts project portfolio management and is it mature and efficient.

When considering the purchase of and implementing an application to provide an enhancement to your existing technology, don’t think that all of your problems will be solved at the flick of a switch based on the information and demonstrations you’ve seen from a conference or sales person.  Software tools are often defined on best practice methodologies.  Practices that normally fit, or are made to fit, in nearly every business environment.  I mentioned PPM software above because that’s what I primarily work with but this concept is for any enterprise level application.  It’s not easy, but as a consumer to the software, you need to know what its strengths and limitations are and how your business processes fit into the applications capabilities.  If you’re striking out with specific apps or modules meant to provide enhanced visibility into your processes , the problem might very well be your internal controls and not the application or the vendor.

CIO New Zealand has a great article that touches on PPM maturity.  It is a complete myth that the right tool will drive PPM success.  Many companies set out to purchase the best PPM tool on the market and don’t understand how their organizations are failing with project management or how the tool they have invested in, isn’t providing the visibility they require.

The choice of tool is secondary to these considerations. The best tool is the one that most fully serves the very particular needs of the company, regardless of the judgment of the technology marketplace. – CIO New Zealand

The bottom line is you need to assess and understand your organization’s PPM maturity level prior to selecting an application to do the job for you.  I’ve witnessed firsthand what the downstream effects are from poor planning and general lack of knowledge and process behind PPM practices.  Know what you need to do, understand all of your requirements, plan out a configuration, workflow, and phases on paper, and then find the right tool for the job.