When an IT organization begins to get its "arms around" its portfolio of initiatives, one of the common challenges is the categorization of initiatives. The various IT workflow tools in the market have various ways to address this, but this article will focus on what I feel is the best approach. HP's PPM product out-of-the-box defines an IT Portfolio into three buckets.
- Proposal: An idea for a initiative. While very few of these may ever get worked on, the estimates of work, costs, benefits allow for IT leadership to quantitatively weight which proposals "fit" best into the next planning cycle. The process may have one or more phase gates that will need to be passed to move on to a Project.
- Project: These are the Proposals that have been approved for development/implementation. Typically, more in depth costs, benefits, requirements, etc. are flushed out as this project moves through its lifecycle and eventually becomes and asset (or contributes to an existing asset). Here is where you will want to associate a Workplan for all but your most trivial of Projects.
- Asset: These are the entities within an organization's portfolio that are "in production" and will:
- Cost money (infrastructure, licenses, etc.)
- Require a resource commitment to maintain
- Bring benefit to an organization
This breakout allows an organization to define different information (on the Entity's form) and have a different process (via different workflows). While an asset workflow is typically very simple (maybe just a periodic "wake up" to evaluate SLA, licenses, etc.), the proposal workflow may have many phase gates (business case development, high level requirements, cost/risk analysis, executive sponsor review, Portfolio Committee Review, etc.).
Choosing a tool like HP Portfolio & Project Management (HP PPM) allows an organization to accurately track initiatives at all points in its lifecycle and reports of them as needed.The ability to configure each lifecycles as one or more sets of Request Types and Workflows enables an organization to use the tool with the current business Portfolio Process or use an industry standard one.
When you also add on the HP PPM dashboard functionality, the level of Portfolio Analysis you can perform is amazing. You can drill down into initiative based upon endless criteria (say by Business Objective, Executive Sponsor, or Region) and easily create "What if" scenarios to optimize the Portfolio.
Let Linium help you "take control of your portfolio"! - contact us today to get started!
"Keep it simple stupid” (KISS) is an approach worth taking in any aspect of life. It is especially true with management dashboards.
When tasked with the role of keeping you IT executive(s) armed with the data they need to effectively lead their organizations (Dashboards and/or Scorecards), you may not realize just what you have been signed up for.
The information needs of an executive can change quicker than the information itself (or so it may seem).
The biggest concerns when it comes to providing information at this level include:
- Provide up-to-date data
- The data must send a clear message (KISS: executive summaries are your friend)
- Color coding can make or kill data presentaion (KISS: Red/Green/Yellow is great. All the colors of the rainbow will cause a user to "tune out"
- Roll-up detail date. If you provide too much data on the "front page" you will lose your audience
- Provide Drill-Down: The catch to the previous bullet. Once you make the "front page" clean and simple, you MUST provide drill down to the detail. Pointing an executive to a problem is great, but if they can't drill down to see the details driving the problem, you've just created more work for yourself later.
- Plan your dashboard. The more-is-better mentality does not hold true. Consider having Current Metrics, Weekly Metrics, and Mothly Metrics. Each might be a page of its own (with supporting drill-downs). Trying to mix information of multiple periodicities can cause the users to not look frequently enough at the dashboards and the you risk that they miss crucial information.
Most importantly remember to Keep It Simple Stupid!
When beginning the process of designing an effective set of dashboards for your users (using HP PPM or any other dashboard tool), there are almost limitless directions in which you can go. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- If you have different target audience types (you most likely will), try to design different templates for each types. They can be very similar to start with, but the natural evolution of dashboards will probably take each template in its own direction. Plan for this as much as you can.
- The landing page (first page a person sees) should be quick loading and very effective. If this page is cluttered with more than a half dozen portlets and/or forces the user to scroll, you probably want to look tochange the layout of your pages.
- Keep in mind that a portlet is best suited to target summary data or at least an "actionable" set of data. Portlets that return more than 20-30 records may start to lose their effectiveness and you might consider moving them to reports or separate dashboard pages.
- Use graphical metrics where applicable but refrain from using them without reason. Sometimes the data conveys the message as well or better. As always, consider the consumer of the information and design to that level.
- You will only have one chance to make a first impression! When you finally roll the dashboard(s) out, if your users aren't ready or it doesn't bring them value clarity ("why am I using this?"), you could lose them forever. Consider beta testers from your target user groups.
- Drilldowns are your friend! While the dashboard needs to convey the overall message; having the ability to "drill down" from a graphical/summary portlet into the details (either specific requests or maybe a report) can go a long way toward building value in a dashboard.
- Pick the right tool. Features and capabilities vary greatly.
Thanks and good luck...