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Getting Executive Buy-In, Showing How a Project Management Portal Gives Executives What They Need Print
If your organization is like most, you are facing an escalating number of projects with ever-tighter deadlines. Many of those projects are increasing in complexity and some may be managed by geographically dispersed teams. And now, more than ever, real-time project information needs to be shared with a larger number of people, possibly including stakeholders outside the organization.


You have to get real-time project information to team members on the road, technicians on your shop floor, or employees around the world. You need to collaborate with partners to bid on or complete a project. You want to provide a way to get project status information to customers or other stakeholders.

What you need is a project management portal.

And to get that, you need executive buy-in.

Showing How a Portal Meets Business Objectives

One of the best ways to get executive buy-in is by showing how project management supports strategic business objectives.

As Mike Peterson, a manager with PricewaterhouseCoopers' Global Risk Management Solutions practice, said, "It may seem obvious, but any project undertaken by a company should be driven by business objectives: projects that do not clearly advance the aims of the company should simply not be undertaken.
These days, the traditional measures of a project's success extend well beyond 'On time, on budget, and to specifications' to include such criteria as 'Delivery of anticipated benefits, engagement of stakeholders, and organizational adoption.'"

A project management portal that provides easy, secure access to project information for everyone from team members to executives to stakeholders will advance the aims of the company. Increased project visibility achieved through the portal improves productivity throughout the organization.

Team members can receive assignments live through the portal, enter real-time progress updates, and see their impact on the whole project schedule and status. Increased communication among employees, whether on different floors or in different countries, and access to real-time project information will support business objectives in virtually every industry.

The same goes for stakeholders. A project management portal that provides live status reports can help manage stakeholder expectations and generate increased confidence in the management of projects and, of course, the organization as a whole.

Because project management can be streamlined through a portal, your organization may also be able to reduce staff or reassign workforce to more strategic areas. Timesavings can result in more rapid time to market, faster completion of contracts, and enhanced cost management.

Outlining the Value for Executive Decision-making

Executives who can continually see real-time project status have a better grasp of the overall health of the organization. High-level reports, digital dashboards, and red-yellow-green traffic signals all help to give executives the precise information they need-no more and no less. And that, of course, leads to better decision-making.

With a portal, executives can scan the general health of their organization's project portfolio on an ongoing basis rather than wade through a lot of detailed reports to get to the important information. In a traditional organization, a project may be managed by different project managers, so executives have a hard time getting compiled information in a timely manner. Some of the documents are paper, some are emailed in different formats, and some are located on someone else's desk. The information can also be many days or even weeks old, which does not help with making timely decisions. In addition, the executive may find it difficult to isolate just the high-level information needed.

A portal can provide up-to-date information that is geared to an executive's individual needs. Statistics, executive summaries, and graphics easily pinpoint areas that need intervention perhaps due to cost overspends or schedule delays. Executives can then drill down to find specific reasons for the problems. This saves time in understanding the problem, and executives are better able to address the issues with supervisors.

With real-time information through the portal, executives are often able to identify potential pitfalls early on, too. In this case, making decisions and taking action promptly can usually avoid lengthy or costly fixes.

Offering Proof Points for Success

It's easy to see how project portals can allow fast collaboration to take place with a dispersed workforce, raise project visibility to all participants and stakeholders, and save money through early detection of problems due to instant access to live data and schedules. It is even better to offer executives proof points of success at other organizations.

The use of project portals has resulted in more effective team performance and made a major contribution to project success at Goodrich Aviation Technical Services. Goodrich implemented project portal software along with a project scheduling system for managing the maintenance and repair of Boeing 737 aircraft. After deployment of these two integrated tools to maintenance teams on the shopfloor, project managers, and senior management, the company was able to decrease the overhaul turnaround time from 37 to about 27 days. In addition, they also gave their customers (typically the airline) limited access to the portal, allowing them to see the status of maintenance on their aircraft from anywhere in the world - a powerful tool in winning new customers and keeping existing ones happy!

"Using the [portal], the customers can also see the status of their aircraft from anywhere in the world in real-time - a major benefit when scheduling an aircraft's return into service," says Chris LaFrance, maintenance supervisor at Goodrich.

At Sperry Marine, a business unit of the global aerospace and defense giant Northrop Grumman, a project management portal is allowing the company to create virtual "war rooms" in responding to Requests for Proposals and resulting projects. For example, Sperry Marine recently used its portal to work with its local agent in Australia to respond to a Request for Proposal for a voyage management system from the Royal Australian Navy. Thanks to the portal, Sperry needed to make only one initial trip to Australia, resulting in very significant costs savings compared to typical overseas proposals. With a 12-hour time difference, it also helped immensely to upload documents and communicate any time of the day.

"The night before the proposal was due, we were in the collaboration room chatting and checking to be sure everything was covered," says Thea Ewing, proposal manager with Sperry Marine. "We were as close to being there as possible."

Getting to YES

In presenting the value of a project management portal to executives, it helps to keep it succinct. These pointers will get you started:

  1. Address the executive's need.
    Quickly address the way the executive currently receives scattered information, different formats, out-of-date reports, and too much information. Describe the way a portal is a single place where the executive can go at any time from any location to retrieve the precise information needed.

  2. Speak to better decision-making.
    Outline the way real-time information delivered in the format the executive desires will enhance the executive's ability to make decisions. Detail the way high-level, up-to-date reports and graphics can help the executive access project health metrics, avoid problems or quickly address situations before they become major problems.

  3. Give examples of success.
    Include a few examples of other organizations successfully using a portal. Do a little research and find one in your industry, if possible.

  4. Track improvements.
    Tell the executive that you will be tracking improvements with the portal. Offer to provide a summary of improvements throughout the organization.

  5. Tie the portal to business objectives.
    Describe how the portal will help the organization meet its objectives. Include specific examples such as cost savings, improved ability to meet deadlines or attract new contracts, and increased productivity. Tie the benefits of the portal directly to business objectives.


Ensuring Your Success with Executive Buy-In

Time after time, the success of any project management initiative is shown to be directly linked to the degree of executive buy-in. By bringing executives into the process early, you will ensure that you receive the support you need. And you will be able to show how your proactive approach in securing a project management portal will benefit the whole organization.

By: Steve Cook (c) 2003

Welcom - Project and Cost Management Solutions

ImageSteve Cook is the Executive Vice President and Co-founder of Welcom, Inc. He has over 20 years of experience in computerized project management, primarily in the U.S. and U.K.
Welcom - Project and Cost Management Solutions

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