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22 06, 2016

Managing Constraints Effectively with the Right Resource Planning Software

By | June 22nd, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Watch a three-minute overview of the Enrich Analytics features discussed in this case study.

Growth is a good thing—it means larger market share, more profit, greater reach. But it also brings challenges, as a company struggles to allocate resources to support growth without over-committing itself. A rapidly growing pharmaceutical company faced exactly this dilemma: the company was consistently missing project milestones due to chronic staffing shortfalls. Multiple project teams were competing for the same key staff members, and it seemed like people with the needed skills and expertise were always in short supply. Complicating matters further, a changing regulatory landscape meant project timelines were fluid, but schedules couldn’t be shifted easily because of the staffing shortages. Ultimately, this confluence of factors was negatively affecting the bottom line.

More staffing was needed, obviously, and the management team had plans to address it, by adding 30 percent more FTEs in the coming year. Even that, though, wasn’t as simple as it seemed: the project management organization (PMO) couldn’t formulate guidance regarding the key positions that should be hired first, because project schedules were maintained in individual MS Project files while FTE forecasts were in a separate cost-tracking system. As a result, it was hard to visualize the aggregate resource demand across all projects and across the different skill sets. Moreover, the resource availability data was located in a spreadsheet belonging to HR, structured at the individual FTE level.

All of this fragmented data storage meant the PMO couldn’t easily tell where resource shortfalls were developing. When development plans changed, the team couldn’t assess quickly whether the right FTEs would be available to execute the new schedule and how other projects would be affected.

To address these issues, and help clarify where and when additional staffing resources would be needed, the company turned to Enrich and the Enrich Analytics Platform. (more…)

18 05, 2016

Project Metrics: What’s Behind the Numbers?

By | May 18th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

We’re often asked, “What’s the best metric for portfolio management?” Executives and managers who oversee new product portfolios want one metric that will tell them, and their superiors, how their portfolios and the initiatives within them are doing. They want one indicator they can rely upon, whether in formal portfolio reviews or informal discussions. But there is no one right metric for all companies or  all types of portfolios. In some cases, net present value nicely summarizes the financial case for each opportunity. In others, a simpler metric such as market size is useful (and may be all that is available anyway). Still other portfolios are best assessed using attractiveness scores rather than  any hard financial criteria at all.

a billion dollar project

Don’t judge this book by its cover; take a look inside!

There is one common thread across all these situations: As the cover of a book hints at what hides within, a metric provides a glimpse into fundamental outlines—the potential value, cost, and risk—of an initiative. And just as it is hasty to judge a book by its cover, a metric is not a replacement for a deeper description or fuller assessment.

So when the metric tantalizes (or raises concerns), where should you turn for more information? (more…)

6 04, 2016

Using EAP’s Project Prioritization Software to Allocate Technology Investments

By | April 6th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

We’ve talked elsewhere about how EAP can provide sophisticated strategic resource planning and capacity planning. In those cases, the concerns were mostly around staffing—making sure key projects had the right people at the right time and anticipating and addressing staffing shortages. But other resources can benefit from this approach as well. Money, for instance—always needed and often in short supply. EAP’s strategic portfolio planning capabilities can help you figure out the best way to deploy a defined budget. The process isn’t far different from the kind of holistic portfolio review we generally advocate, but it is tailored to accommodate the strictures of a budget-driven R&D program.

Funding a Six-year Plan

One of our clients had a particularly well-defined investment cycle. Because it was federally funded, the organization worked on a six-year funding schedule. Each year, the government provided a budget detailing how much money would be available to the organization in each of the coming six years. With that information in hand, the organization’s yearly portfolio review involved prioritizing its technology initiatives and determining which ones it could afford to support given the promised funding. In the ideal process, the organization would create a plan for the entire funding period, which would then be updated and adjusted each year to account for the actual progress made by each initiative as well as changes in the actual funding, and then extended as the six-year plan rolled forward.

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28 03, 2016

Portfolio Prioritization Best Practices

By | March 28th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Our latest video covers prioritization by value metrics, when to use productivity metrics, how to build a frontier chart, and when to temper simple prioritization with more sophisticated methods. You can see it here, right now. As always, we’d love to hear your comments and suggestions on topics for future videos.

9 03, 2016

From Data Scapegoat to Data Shepherd

By | March 9th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

cartoon goatIn most R&D organizations, the portfolio management team walks a narrow line between the project teams and the executives. The portfolio staff polls the project teams for information about each new and ongoing initiative, builds portfolio views, and shares the updated state of the portfolio with executives. In an ideal world, the portfolio team members are like data shepherds, ensuring that critical R&D information stays up-to-date and ever-available for executive needs.
But when all is not well in the portfolio pasture, portfolio teams hear comments like this from the project teams and the executives:

  • The review is tomorrow at 11? Oh, I’ll send you a project update tomorrow morning. Okay?
  • Project A must have a bigger market than that. Your numbers are incorrect.
  • We updated our project forecast yesterday–you aren’t using the latest information.
  • We are using a different cost of capital so your numbers don’t tie out with our spreadsheet.
  • I can’t use these data when over half the projects haven’t been updated since the last review.
  • Who changed these schedule estimates? Nobody asked the operations committee if a six-month slip in deliverables was acceptable!

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17 02, 2016

7 Views of Project-Portfolio Variance

By | February 17th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Knowing the current cost and estimated value of every initiative in your portfolio is nice, but when executives meet for a review, what they really want to know is: What’s changed since the last review, was it good or bad, and why?

The above is true whether a month, a quarter, or a year has passed since the last review; looking at what has changed is one of the fastest ways to communicate portfolio health and progress towards strategic goals. It also builds trust in the portfolio process: executives remember where you left off with them, and starting from that same point establishes a feeling of continuity and stability.

In this post I’ll share different methods for communicating variance. These methods have different use cases, but they all riff on the idea of variance. My examples will come from our cloud-based offering, the Enrich Analytics Platform, but you could build similar views by hand in Excel or other self-service BI tools.
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27 01, 2016

Why Choose Enrich Analytics over Traditional BI Tools?

By | January 27th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

R&D teams often try to compare our offering to the many visualization/business intelligence tools available today. At conferences and sales calls, we hear some variant of: “Why should I use Enrich when we already have a site license for Tableau (or Spotfire, Qlik, Cognos, or another BI — business intelligence — tool) at my company?” Were you thinking something similar? Then this blog post is for you!

Tools like Tableau focus on data exploration, and allow you to build various charts to explore a dataset. They are general tools that allow you to construct bubble, bar, and line charts (and many others). However, by themselves, they aren’t up to the more specific, more demanding tasks involved in portfolio management.

If you review the essential activities associated with portfolio management in the diagram below, it will quickly become clear that portfolio management is about more than data exploration. The Enrich Analytics Platform is uniquely suited to provide the analytical, information management, and visualization capabilities necessary for confident, real-time portfolio management.

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12 01, 2016

When Gantt Charts Fail: Use Flag Charts to Show Upcoming Events

By | January 12th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

You’re probably familiar with Gantt charts, which show project tasks, their duration, and their completion dates. For a specific project, project managers and executives use Gantt charts to quickly review upcoming activities.

When reviewing a portfolio of projects, project managers sometimes continue to use Gantt charts, adding upcoming tasks for all projects to a single chart and sorting by task start date. These consolidated Gantt charts are sometimes referred to as ‘key event maps’, because they show key events across a portfolio.

Excerpt from a key event map; when key event maps go on for rows and rows, they are difficult to read.

Excerpt from a key event map; when key event maps go on for rows and rows, they are difficult to read.

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20 10, 2015

Avoiding King Kong Projects

By | October 20th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

king kong“Hey Percy, what happened to the two medical writers who were supposed to start work with us this week?”

“Oh, you didn’t hear, Luke? They were pulled to work on project PDE_311 at the last minute.”

“Ugh, just like the bio-statistician that we were supposed to have last month!” said an exasperated Luke.

“That’s the law of the jungle, right?” Percy returned. “PDE_311 is the top-priority project, and we are out-of-sight and out-of-mind.”

“So, what did it mean back in June when our project was ‘funded’, anyway? We never seem to get the resources we request, and you KNOW they’ll be all over us when we slip our deliverable dates…”

This company is making a critical resource planning mistake; have you experienced it yourself?

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30 09, 2015

Scenario Planning 101

By | September 30th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

The goal of portfolio management is to effect changes that minimize risk and maximize value. But change is hard, and corporate change is harder still. People need motivation. The best way to build that motivation is to lay the consequences of the present course bare and make the status quo completely unpalatable. Like Thelma and Louise, you have to ask, “Where are we headed?” In a portfolio review, that means asking, “What will our current investments in R&D, marketing, and sales get us? How likely are we to meet our strategic goals?”

Scenario planning is the best tool in your toolbox for answering these questions. In scenario planning, you play out the value of the present course of action in the context of a number of alternative futures created by hypothetical changes in the environment and in your strategy and tactics. You can do the same thing for a number of different approaches, mapping different courses and their likely destinations. In the process, hopefully, you’ll also convince the your management to choose a plan and act on it.
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