Skip navigation
All Places > Clarity PPM > Blog
1 2 3 Previous Next

Clarity PPM

238 posts

Code Smarter, Not Harder

Posted by Alf-Abuhajleh Employee May 16, 2019

By Alf Abuhajleh

PPM Pundit


We’re coding software faster than ever before. A recent survey showed 85 percent of developers use Agile methodologies. Another 75 percent of coders expect new coworkers to be productive in less than three months, with a third saying it should take less than a month. Continuous delivery is thus becoming more real every day, as organizations look for new and innovative ways to improve speed without compromising quality or cost.


The days when organizations could just ask employees to work harder are long gone – or mostly gone – the focus now is on working smarter. From no-code to low-code, IT departments around the world have tried to squeeze efficiency out of all kinds of innovative technologies.


Yet there's a more fundamental, and far simpler, way of working smarter.


Just improve the way software development is integrated into the rest of the organization – not from a technical standpoint, but from a business and cultural perspective.


Traditional agile development focuses on software that delights customers, and that’s good. But it's far more important to develop solutions that delight both customers and your own organization. You need a solid foundation, a loyal team, to keep customers happy. You need to understand not just what customers want, but what your organization wants, why it wants it, and how it supports the business.


Give your teams that context, and they’ll give you better solutions all round.

By Linda Chase

PPM Pundit


Clarity PPM has innovative roadmap functionality – a way to map projects to the company's long-term strategy for digital transformation, new products, and sometime the organization itself. But as delivery windows get ever shorter, are roadmaps still relevant?


“Yes, they are more relevant today than ever," said Linda Chase, a PPM product expert at Broadcom. "Organizations are realizing the traditional approach to investment planning - collecting and prioritizing demand, merging new work with in-flight projects and sorting arbitrarily - is not working.”


Chase advocates shifting to top-down planning – aligning the work that gets approved with the roadmaps for how products, services and the company need to grow. She points out that this approach avoids the organizational fatigue that comes from producing and reviewing hundreds of business cases, many for projects that have no hope of delivering or that have no alignment with the organization’s goals. This approach often results in everything being a number one priority.


Planning must be fast, easy and effective. It should be integrated across the whole organization, prioritizing the organization's long-term vision. It must also allow the organization to pivot instantly with minimal disruption – and that simply can’t happen without that top-down focus.


So how do organizations make that shift?  Well it’s not difficult:

  • Start with the high-level objectives – Chase calls them the “big rocks”
  • Involve key stakeholders to capture their strategies
  • Connect current work with the long-term vision
  • Place emphasis on growth and broaden the realm of possibilities


Of course you need accurate, timely and complete information to do that, and that’s where Clarity PPM with its roadmap functionality comes handy.

By Marla Schimke

PPM Pundit


Seventy percent of transformation efforts fail.  It’s a statistic that’s been thrown around for 25 years, most recently cited by McKinseyPMI reports that 9.9% of every dollar spent on projects is wasted – and that’s an improvement on previous studies. There are many reasons for these failures, but organizational fatigue is a big one – and it’s getting bigger.


The problem is that the speed of business has increased, but the approach hasn’t. As a result, planning is occurring more frequently, with more projects being approved, adjusted and cancelled, but it’s still based on individual proposals from different business areas. At the same time, many organizations still approve way more projects than they are capable of delivering. This causes frustration, lost productivity and an overall sense of organizational fatigue – and the more frequent planning becomes, the worse it gets.


Organizations must be more strategic, even as they adjust their tactical work more frequently. Planning must change to align approved work with long-term roadmaps that guide the strategic direction of a product, service, or the entire business. Adjustments in the short-term must still contribute to progress on that strategy, and work that doesn’t contribute should never be approved in the first place.


Organizations talk a lot about creating an environment where their employees can “work smarter, not harder,” but they still operate with legacy planning techniques that are anything but smart. Change those planning fundamentals and you’ll go a long way to alleviating organizational fatigue.

By Marla Schimke

PPM Pundits


Organizations have limited amounts of money available for investment, and that investment has to generate a substantial return – achieving all of the goals and objectives that have been set for the reporting period, while also moving the organization closer to achieving its long-term vision. There isn’t room for investment dollars to be wasted on initiatives that don’t contribute, or even on projects that contribute in a less than optimal way. That’s where the integrated product portfolio comes in.


It informs the decisions around the product portfolio by allowing leadership to ensure:


  • Investments are focused on innovation and growth – that’s the only way corporate performance can advance without “throttling” (cost reduction is important at times but will always have limited upsides because all costs have a floor).
  • Investment is balanced across different elements of the portfolio. Investments must be distributed across products at different stages of the lifecycle – ensuring those products that are currently enjoying high levels of adoption and sales remain attractive to fund the development of new products while ensuring that declining products remain profitable by limiting investment. The same logic applies to distributing investments across different market segments, geographical regions, etc.
  • Project managers and teams have access to the full context of why their initiatives were approved. Instead of simply having a high-level explanation of project purpose the teams can see how their product or service fits into the enterprise product portfolio and how their work directly benefits the organization’s ability to succeed.


Of course, all of this is dynamic. Modern business is continuously evolving as technology advances, customer expectations increase and competitors drive innovation. The product portfolio must therefore be managed actively, ensuring not only that each product or service is accurately represented in terms of current positioning, but that future directions and plans are realistic in that product’s environment. Each individual adjustment will also impact the overall balance of all products or services, requiring further adjustments to retain an integrated product portfolio that distributes opportunity, risk and effort appropriately.


This relationship between product and project portfolio management is at the heart of why the product portfolio must be actively managed – continuously adjusting it to reflect the current operating and competitive environments, and positioning it to optimize the ability to respond to every opportunity and threat. The integrated product portfolio defines the plans, positioning and expectations of all the organization’s offerings – both individually and collectively. The project portfolio represents the work that is being undertaken to deliver on those plans, maintain or enhance the positioning and fulfill the expectations. Success only comes when both of those aspects are aligned.


Organizations recognize that maintaining alignment in the project portfolio requires ongoing adjustments, and successful organizations have built that approach into their strategy execution approaches. They maintain an actively managed portfolio backlog, conduct planning reviews on at least a quarterly basis, and practice business agility to ensure the need to adjust goals and objectives is identified as early as possible.


That approach must now be extended into the product portfolio. Product owners should already be aware enough of the markets their offerings operate within to identify as changes are starting to occur. They must also be able to interpret the implications of those changes – does the product need to evolve and adapt, does it need to be repositioned, or can the change be ignored as insignificant? Organizationally, all of those ongoing adjustments must be brought together, evolving the entire integrated product portfolio and ensuring it always represents the current situation, opportunities and threats for all products in all markets.


Anything less risks failure.

By Marla Schimke

PPM Pundit


Product portfolios is the talk of the town. While the concept isn’t new, increasing attention is paid to how we manage product portfolios. But before we take a closer look, let's consider why product portfolios management is important to the entire company.


We start with a definition of the product portfolio. At the simplest level it is nothing more than an inventory of all the products and services offered by an organization. However, to be useful, it must be a little more involved than that.


First, we need to ensure we have truly identified every offering, not just the main ones. Any organization will have those almost forgotten niche products that only one or two people know about and that only have a handful of customers using them, they must be included just as much as the main offering.


Then, we need to ensure all markets are considered – market segment, geography, etc. And we need to include subsidiary or related companies in those numbers, along with any add on modules offered through in house or partner professional services.


We also need to understand our internal products and services – those things we have developed for use by our employees – they are still part of our product portfolio.


It's a complex picture of the various elements or versions of the product portfolios that exist in the organization, and before we can manage that environment effectively we need to be able to develop a consolidated, integrated view – a single product portfolio for the entire organization. Without that we are "managing blind" adjusting one set of products without understanding the impact on other areas, and that hurts both effectiveness and efficiency. It also exposes the organization to unnecessary risk.


Organizations must therefore develop a single, integrated portfolio of all the products and services they have developed and maintain. It’s not sufficient for that portfolio to be a mere inventory of those products, it must represent a comprehensive understanding of characteristics, purpose, etc. to provide a foundation that can then be effectively managed. The following aspects of every product must be included in this portfolio view:


  • Market positioning – not just the industry verticals and geographic regions served, but also whether the product is a market leader, a niche player, the value offering, etc.
  • Financial performance – key information on the product’s value to the organization – the revenue generated (or costs saved for internal products), the cost of that revenue, historic and projected financial performance, etc.
  • Product lifecycle – whether the product is in a growth phase, mature or declining as well as information on other current products that are either designed to replace it or that it will ultimately replace.


There are numerous other elements you can consider, and each organization will have its own characteristics it wants to add.  What’s important is that you have a single integrated product portfolio that tells you everything you need to know about individual solutions and how those solutions work together to create the complete set of products and services used by your organization and its clients.


Once you have that understanding you can look at how to manage that ecosystem of connected products, and that’s what we are going to look at in the next blog entry.

By Andy Jordan

PPM Pundit


One of the most significant areas in which a modern project management office (PMO) will need to make changes in the future is with its project and portfolio management approach. While the list of things that will ultimately need to be done is long, fortunately the place to start is with a few simple shifts in your current thinking:

  1. Move away from the mental model of demand management
  2. Regard all proposals as major investments of the enterprise’s valuable resources (that is, it isn’t just about projects anymore)
  3. Begin to practice radical transparency
  4. Use “contribution to strategy” as your mandate and implicit authority

Part of the change that is occurring with the advent of digital business is that, increasingly, an organization’s portfolio of internal investment options is no longer regarded as just demand being placed on IT. It isn’t that demand for IT isn’t important (it’s still one of the most critical execution issues), but at the front end of the portfolio process, contribution to strategy matters more.


Moving up the maturity curve from demand management to practicing true portfolio management isn’t an overnight activity. The first change we recommend is segmenting demand. Strategic investments do NOT belong in the same intake process as low-level service requests. Digital business requires having an intake process, supported by the right tool, that doesn’t treat a multi-million dollar investment proposal with the same level of gravitas as a 40-hour change request. To put it bluntly, the difference between a Level 2 maturity PMO (process driven, tactically focused) and a modern PMO (strategically focused) is the ability to get out of the weeds.


The second change we recommend for moving beyond demand management is to move the portfolio management function into a separate department and retitle it something like investment portfolio office (IPO). Your goal is make sure whatever name you chose reflects the fact that the organization is separate from any day-to-day operational IT concerns.


The beauty of this change is that it doesn’t need to involve anything more than a new org chart. Your staff can do double duty in multiple boxes on the org chart, and you can work on drawing a dotted line between the portfolio office and the CIO if the current IT PMO reports somewhere else in the organization. The goal with this move is to make the case that the portfolio office at least has the inherent right/permission to talk to business leaders directly about their investment proposals without being perceived as having their IT “hat” on.


Once the construct of a portfolio office is in place, the next thing to do is begin to change the language used to refer to the work in the portfolio. We strongly suggest using the term investments. Adopting this terminology will allow for discussions that include products, services, programs and projects all in the same portfolio (an approach product-based companies have been using for years).


The third change is to begin practicing radical transparency, and this is another place where having the right tool to support your organization will be critical. Microsoft Excel® simply wasn’t designed to allow an entire organization to understand what contextual information is known about a particular investment at any point in time during its lifecycle. Level 2 organizations often get off track with their portfolio because the annual budget process for capital is done based on nothing more than a list of proposals that includes title, a sponsor and a request for funding.


To avoid confusion, we recommend that a modern PMO/portfolio office take these budgeted investment ideas and place them onto a roadmap for each business area. With modern tools preparing a roadmap is easy and will provide a future basis for discussion. Radical transparency as a practice requires always finding a way to take data and translate it into information that others can understand. A list of investment requests is simply a list; a roadmap of what an organization would like to accomplish and when is something that has contextual meaning to even a casual observer.


The final change is to begin to use strategy as the source of implicit authority for the portfolio function. What does this mean in practical terms for the modern PMO? It means that you have the right to ask (politely) very pointed questions of some fairly senior managers. For example, “please, Ms. VP of marketing, can you tell me how this particular proposal will increase customer engagement? I know it will because you wouldn’t have proposed it if it weren’t important, but to execute it correctly, we’ve got to know what about this project makes a unique contribution to strategy.”


This conversation can take between 30 minutes and an hour, and you will obviously do it only for the most important (read expensive or risky) proposals. In this short a discussion, you won’t get all the answers you might want, but you should get enough information to begin to understand what each proposal that claims to contribute to the corporate strategy is bringing to the table (its unique contribution). Later on in the portfolio lifecycle—when it becomes clear that not all the proposals supporting, for example, customer engagement are created equal—you will be able to explain, using the evidence you’ve collected in your portfolio tool, exactly why what proposal G seems to offer is not as fully fleshed out as what proposal K offers.


Life in an old-style Level 2 IT PMO was focused on recording and prioritizing demand. Life in a modern PMO is about executing strategy for the greater good of the enterprise through transparent data, and a clear but flexible sequencing of the right investments. So ask yourself, if your portfolio isn’t executing strategy—what is it doing?

By Andy Jordan

PPM Pundit


Let's play.


If you could implement a simple solution to make 87 percent of employees feel more productive, 84 percent more engaged and 82 percent happier, would you do it? Of course you would, and that’s exactly what gamification delivers, according to a recent survey by TalentLMS.


That survey was by a software company in the learning-and-development industry, and those are two areas – software and learning – where gamification is seen as having a big impact. But gamification can be leveraged to improve many different aspects of all businesses, this blog has some great strategies to consider.


Teams are becoming ever more critical to organizational success today – more and more money is focused on transformation and change, as the speed of evolution for all industries continues to accelerate.


To deliver that change, there's a shift from projects to products, replacing scheduled periodic releases with an ongoing stream of functional enhancements.


That results in a shift to more permanent teams, where the need to build and maintain, cohesion, engagement and performance is more important than ever.


Gamification isn’t a solution to all of the challenges your teams face, but as part of an overall team development and engagement strategy it can be a tremendous asset.


The perception that it only works with millennials, or in certain corporate cultures is wrong. That same TalentLMS survey referenced above showed that 90 percent of employees over the age of 45 believed gamification would help them achieve better results.


Read more from the PPM Pundits.

By Andy Jordan

PPM Pundit


The PMO has evolved from providing strategic investment guidance, managing budgets and monitoring high-level execution, to a much more tactical role focused on waterfall execution and Gantt charts. The trend, unfortunately, didn’t pan out for most organizations. Today, the PMO is transitioning back into a strategic role focused on portfolios over individual projects, and identifying the right initiatives at the right time, executed by the right teams.


But the PMO isn’t moving away from tactical execution entirely. It’s simply expanding its scope and shifting its main focus to business results. This, of course, makes the ability to view the business at ground level as well as from 35,000 feet essential. Only from this dual vantage point can the PMO help implement investment controls that tie project execution and delivery to budgetary constraints, governance and an outcome that brings value to the portfolio and the organization.


For this degree of visibility, PMOs must have the right tools. That’s why the integration between CA Agile Central and CA Project & Portfolio Management (CA PPM) is proving invaluable to customers. CA Agile Central allows PMOs to monitor—and to a degree orchestrate—work happening at the project level. CA Agile Central also shares real-time information with CA PPM where it’s combined with pertinent financial information to provide the intelligence necessary to make strategic, data-driven decisions.


The strategic PMO starts with results


The right tools are essential in supporting the strategic responsibilities of the PMO. But those tools are a lot more effective for the PMO that already has the right mind-set and the right approach: the PMO that starts with the desired results and works backwards, mapping out how the company will achieve them. Following are some tips for turning the PMO into a strategic powerhouse:


Define successful outcomes: Start by defining a specific business goal. Break it down into supporting goals at the individual, team and departmental levels. Ensure they’re clear and highly visible. Everyone should know exactly what needs to be done, how each activity will impact the overall objective, and the status of their progress at any given time.


Consider using both KPIs and OKRs: Key performance indicators (KPIs) are very effective at measuring the performance of a given activity, and they should be used in circumstances such as achieving milestones. But the modern PMO is focused on outcomes. That means setting a specific objective and delineating a series of steps to reach it. For this, objectives and key results (OKRs) can be more effective due to their enhanced ability to focus on, measure and achieve those outcomes.


Track progress: Leverage tools that provide automated, fact-based feedback to track progress. Use that feedback to streamline ongoing projects, eliminate waste and guide teams toward continuous improvement—and to avoid train wrecks like budget overruns.


Provide a postmortem: At the end of the project, the right metrics and reporting will provide a true picture of the cost to value of the initiative. This should be calculated and shared with executive management to illustrate the continuing value of everyone involved.


Report on the benefits realized over time: At the end of the project, most PMOs simply move on to the next initiative. This is a mistake. The end of the project is probably just the beginning of its results. It’s through the continued monitoring of those results that we can understand the real, total benefit to the organization, and compare those benefits to the costs associated with the project. And the learning here can be applied to all forthcoming projects.


Promote sound investment strategies: Use all the information and learning gleaned above to create viable, dynamic portfolios as you steer the work within the organization toward those projects that can deliver the most value. By illustrating how specific projects can generate revenue and how rationalized execution can minimize resource requirements and save money, the PMO becomes indispensable.


This transition by the PMO will provide significant upside to the organization, but it will also place a lot more responsibility on the office. And project managers might be wondering how they could possibly take on any more than they already have on their plates. But that’s the beauty of it. The modern PMO can accomplish all of this without growing the team significantly or requiring people to work 80 hours a week. It just comes down to combining the right tools with the right priorities and focus.


Clarity PPM is built to help PMOs manage strategic portfolio plans and implement best practices and governance through a work style suited for today’s teams. CA PPM provides clear insights into demand, resources and financials to confirm that you’re on track or show you what adjustments are required. It helps to align investments with corporate goals, ensure the best possible use of resources, prioritize investments, and forecast and manage budgets. Soon, it might be able to do your taxes too.


By Andy Jordan

PPM Pundit


Agile planning starts with leadership, but it also has to reach the lower-level execution stages as quickly as possible.


There’s a need to more closely integrate leadership and delivery functions in order to improve the quality of project delivery. This is a critical element of agile planning, and in this post I want to look more closely at how that integration occurs, focusing on how strategy drives execution.


We discussed the concept of enterprise agility—the need to adjust and evolve strategy to respond to threats and opportunities in the organization’s environment. This results in strategy being a very fluid notion: While there should be directional consistency in the medium term, the specific strategic goals will evolve continuously as customer demands, market opportunities and operational necessities shift. This must result in similar ongoing adjustments of the projects that are the mechanism for delivering that strategy, in order to maintain alignment between the benefits being delivered and those that are required.


For that process to be effective, it cannot involve all of the decisions being made at the strategic level. That would not only consume too much time and effort analyzing change, but it would also separate decision making from where the knowledge and understanding of the projects that need to absorb those changes resides—the execution level.


Instead, decision making on the mechanics of the changes necessary to maintain alignment with strategic goals must exist within the teams that are delivering those projects. Project managers and their teams must be empowered to change project elements to ensure their initiatives still deliver “on benefit” even when that benefit has evolved from what was originally envisaged.


This distributed decision making is challenging for both leadership and project functions. Leaders are relying on relatively low-level teams to make decisions that impact their ability to succeed, while project teams are faced with the responsibility of making such decisions.


This is where the project management office (PMO), containing effective portfolio management, comes into its own. Before any specific project starts, the focus is on creating an appropriate project delivery culture, preparing teams for frequent change in constraints, resourcing and purpose, and ensuring project managers have the skills, knowledge and context to facilitate the decisions those changes require.


Once project delivery is underway, portfolio management must act as a catalyst for effective communication between leadership and project teams, and that has two elements:

  • Minimizing the time it takes for change communication to flow from leadership to project teams
  • Maximizing the ability of teams to process that communication

This is a balancing act and an example helps to illustrate the point.


In theory a leadership team could decide that they need to increase their revenue target by a further $5 million and just communicate that to the project team. This can happen almost instantly, but without more context or explanation it will leave those project teams guessing on the right approach.


A better approach is for project portfolio management to slow down the message in order to improve the ability for it to be processed correctly. Discussions between portfolio management and leadership around where the revenue should come from (if it matters), why the change is happening, whether other priorities can be compromised, etc., will help build a full picture of what is happening and why.


Combining this knowledge with the skills of an effective, modern, business-focused portfolio management function enables the message to be delivered to teams, with the full context required for them to quickly review options for adjusting their work and select the best one. That in turn minimizes the disruption on progress, reducing the cost of the change and therefore the cost of value. The key to success is to build a modern PMO that is at the heart of the agile planning concept. This function can then maximize the benefit it offers project teams while minimizing the time needed to add that value.

It’s not easy running project finances, with all the requests for reports, limited insight into work and contending priorities in the portfolio. To better understand how Clarity PPM helps finance managers overcome day-to-day challenges, we reached out to CA’s very own finance expert, Linda Chase.


Linda uniquely combines experience with project and portfolio management (PPM) software and finance and operations. She has been in the software development industry for the last fifteen years with a variety of senior level product management positions. Most recently, her role with CA is a senior product manager Clarity PPM. Linda also brings over 10 years as a financial and operations officer for publishing and direct marketing companies in Colorado.

We started our discussion by asking Linda to complete the sentence “Clarity PPM improves the capability of financial managers by…?


Enabling planned costs to be correctly mapped to cost categories at the beginning of a project for both capital and operating expenses,” said Linda. She went on to explain that “aligning these costs at the beginning of a project ensures financial category accuracy throughout the life cycle of the project. The ability for project managers to see line item transaction costs during project cost plan analysis keeps the project manager and the finance manager speaking the same language in discovering problems early in a project cycle.”


This is something that many organizations forget when it comes to project delivery. These organizations expect project managers to deliver projects against a fixed, and often aggressive, budget but they do little to create an environment that makes it easier for that to happen. This is a key advantage of CA PPM, it is built to make that alignment easier, allowing organizations to engage finance and project managers easily without having to define the way the relationship works.


We asked Linda to tell us why that was important to finance managers and her answer demonstrated the importance of this relationship between finance and project management – “finance and project managers are in constant communication. Knowing the financial categories are correct speeds up the process of facilitating project financial accuracy. Less errors and journal entries are discovered and needed to align the financial numbers into the correct buckets. As project managers work with finance managers, the ability to review the financial transactions to communicate and ask questions simplifies and speeds up the process.”


In other words, it’s important for finance managers because it’s important for project managers and improves the performance of the project as a result. By extension, that also means that accurate and accessible financial management information is important to organizations as a whole. As Linda puts it, “financial accuracy it critical to any project. If numbers are not in the correct category or errors not discovered early enough, the business is making decisions on wrong data. Keeping these cost plans in sync with the financial system is critical to running a smooth operation and making sound decisions.”


This really is the bottom line. Organizations today are facing a world that is constantly changing, where technology, competitors and customers are continuously redefining what is possible and what is expected. In this environment organizations must make decisions quickly and confidently, knowing that they are acting on the best possible information. With investment budgets limited and the need to generate a return on investment crucial, accurate, complete and timely financial management capability is vital to organizational success. Clarity PPM understands that, and it delivers in a way no competitor can.


Clarity PPM is your financial management partner in project delivery.

By Andy Jordan

PPM Pundit


If you’re reading this you're interested in PPM. You may have a solution already, or you may be looking to implement one. And every vendor will tell you theirs is different. But when you ask how it’s different you don’t get much – a different interface, a couple of workflow variations, but that’s about it.


Clarity PPM really is different.  Clarity defined project portfolio management (PPM) processes in the early 2000s and our competitors are still working to refine them.  We’ve moved on, recognizing that traditional PPM approaches in isolation don’t work anymore because of the way the world has evolved.


We view PPM not as a series of different functions, loosely tied together, but as a single integrated platform that makes it simple to get work done, usable in the real world to simplify that work and powerful enough to make business more effective.  We achieve that with a number of powerful elements.


Roadmaps bring executive driven top-down planning to the table to provide a results focused addition to traditional bottom-up planning.  Clarity PPM is accessible to all users, regardless of their background, allowing all business leaders to spin up projects in minutes.  Those projects can then be managed intuitively with task boards and scoreboards that allow relevant information to be shown in ways that work for each person.


Team collaboration eliminates the administrative overhead of long meetings, providing meaningful digital collaboration that allows for the sharing of information in ways that work for teams.  In addition, we free those team members to work whenever and wherever they want with integration of key functionality like time tracking with mobile devices.  We then power the entire platform with business intelligence and analytics to create a solution that truly supports innovative growth.


If you want a simple, usable, powerful solution that works with you to achieve success, you need Clarity PPM.

In a recent study, McKinsey found that 84 percent of executives thought innovation was an important part of their growth strategy, but only 6 percent were satisfied with their innovation performance.


To be successful organizations must deliver solutions to their customers that are innovative, but they must also consistently deliver them in less time than their competitors. So how do you do that? How do you constantly innovate while reducing the time from idea to solution?


The answer is in how you plan. You must ensure your product development is always pursuing a well-defined, strategic, growth path. That’s where the idea of product roadmaps come in. A roadmap defines the broad direction your products will take as they evolve, providing guidance to short term project efforts.


Project teams can then focus on delighting customers’ current demands, advancing the product along the roadmap, and delivering solutions that leverage current technological capabilities in ways that have never been achieved before.  When product and project teams have to reinvent what innovation looks like with every release the chances of failure increase. When they can use roadmaps as their guide, the right solutions become much easier to define.


Of course, those roadmaps have to be defined in the first place. Organizations must invest in innovative product managers who not only understand their markets and customers, but who are also prepared to challenge accepted norms, asking "why not" whenever a new opportunity arises.


Innovative roadmaps, executed by innovative organizations will result in consistently innovative products and services that delight customers and drive sustainable value.

We recently published an eBook that looked at some of the challenges faced by resource owners when working in projects today.


Building from that we wanted to understand how Clarity PPM helps project managers overcome those challenges and we reached out to our very own resource management expert, Dave Sprague. Dave is a product management professional with 20 years in diverse industry segments. He has been with Clarity PPM team for almost three years.


We started our discussion by asking Dave to complete the sentence Clarity PPM improves the capability of resource owners by…?


"Filtering available resources and investments down to the department or team level, allowing the resource manager to match supply and demand across the enterprise" said Dave. "Multi-value searches, like capacity based on role and geography, optimize an organization’s already stretched staff. Once the resource manager finds the right people, they can allocate specific percentages of their workload without having to use a full-time equivalent calculation."


This is not just a new way of looking at resource information, it’s a fundamentally different approach to the discipline of resource management – recognizing that availability is a complex discipline that is far trickier than simply asking, who has bandwidth?


Resource management should be more than resource allocation, yet for many organizations, and many tools, it’s simply an exercise in finding an approximately correctly skilled and available person to match the need. Elevating resource management to a more strategic discipline takes things to a much different level and Dave went on to explain just why this was so important to resource owners.


"From a resource perspective, resource managers gain visibility into all work for which their people are engaged within a familiar Excel paradigm. With telescoping, for example, resource managers are able to focus directly on identifying and solving problems. Simply select a time horizon to zoom into an area of focus or time horizon to spot staffing problem."


"Resource managers can focus even further on specific resources and view only ‘pinned’ resources to balance work between 2 or 3 people at a time in order to resolve bottlenecks.  From a staffing perspective, resource managers can focus on people with the “My Team” view and easily address staffing requests."


This is clear recognition that resource management is a complex discipline, and it’s something that is becoming even more complex as organizations face increasing competition, ever greater customer expectations and ever shorter time horizons for projects.


It’s also a discipline that is dynamic as work executes and actual time and effort needs experience variances from what was planned – hence Clarity PPM’s focus on quickly identifying (and resolving) resource problems and bottlenecks.

Effective resource management can be the differentiator between success and failure, and Dave points out just how important effective resource management is to organizations.


"The system provides visibility into what the organization is working on and the amount of time they are spending.  The system helps organizations validate their forecast for labor resources and milestones for delivery.  It also provides resource managers and the portfolio management function the visibility organizations need today."


Want more? Download the eBook: Projects Fail Without Engaged Resource Managers

Multiple project tools, manual tasks and a never-ending demand for status reports are but a few of the many pains and aches of a project manager. Talking to Clarity PPM product manager, Brian Nathanson (PMP), we'll try to remedy some of these issues.


Brian learned project management principles during several years at KPMG then actively applied those concepts for several more years as a PMI-certified Project Manager in software development at a boutique consulting firm in Reston, VA.


He has a Master’s in Technology Management through a program co-sponsored by the Wharton School, where he focused on advanced portfolio modeling and simulation techniques with special consideration for how such techniques can assist in the management of high-risk technology projects.


Brian has worked with dozens of customers to apply financial portfolio principles and technology to the management of business portfolios. He has also conducted training in project management fundamentals at various conferences and spoken on a variety of topics at PMI chapter meetings.


We started our discussion by asking Brian to complete the sentence: Clarity PPM improves the capability of project managers by…?


"Providing a common set of tools and as a result, a common set of practices that project managers can use so that regardless of where they are they know they can do the same thing," said Brian. "It also allows them to have a common language in the organization whether they are project managers who come with experience, new project managers, or maybe a subject matter expert who got thrown in to being a PM."


"This consistent approach and language is critical, it creates a common framework that ensures PMs can focus on the challenges of their projects, not how they do the basics of the work."


We explored this further with Brian by asking him what the key benefits were for PMs using Clarity PPM.


"The main thing that is in it for them is the saving of time and what I would call busy work," said Brian. "Previously they'd spend an enormous amount of time preparing a status report used in a three-minute update. Now, they share with a few clicks. They also get more resource visibility – understanding that a team can’t finish a task because they are being called off to do other things for example."


We don’t know any project manager who won’t take less administrative overhead and better insight into their projects, as Brian sums up “a PM can focus more on things that are more strategically important about the particular project they are working on right now.”


This ability to focus on what is more strategically important also speaks to why this better environment for project managers matters to organizations, and that was our final question for Brian.


He explains the organizational benefit. "Businesses are very much focused on the ability to change more quickly – being agile. A large part of what you gain by making project managers more efficient in delivering the administrative aspect of their job is that they can spend more time on the critical parts of their job, which is making those decisions that are unique to the project they’re working on. This makes people more responsive and the organization is better able to respond – to be more agile."


That’s perhaps the ultimate gain here. Organizations want to become better able to respond to their environment, to pivot more quickly and even to become proactive, recognizing when opportunities are being created. Giving project managers the right tools not only make it easier for them to execute their work, it also benefits the entire organization – improving that responsiveness and enabling proactivity.


We understand that, which is why Clarity PPM should be your catalyst for business agility.


Want to know more? Flip through our eBook: Your Project Managers Are the Engine that Drives Success