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Analysis

Project Management with Bestoutcome PM3
David Norris By: David Norris, Practice Leader - Analytics, Bloor Research
Published: 22nd June 2007
Copyright Bloor Research © 2007
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The IT industry should be about business solutions and outcomes; alas we still appear to be focussed on technical features and processes, and leave the tricky question of deriving benefit and value to someone else. It is therefore a welcome change to find a project management tool that actually sets about helping people to do the right thing at the right time to deliver a clearly business justified solution. Indeed, Bestoutcome PM3 even has the option to actually check that, once delivered, projects are doing what was promised in terms of the expected business benefits.

Most of what is used today as Project Management aids in IT, be that Microsoft Project or management frameworks such as Prince, are ensuring that due process is followed and that the resources are being accounted for accurately. These are all laudable aims, but in an increasingly competitive world, in which most of the easy targets for automation and efficiency have been addressed, it is really not enough to ensure the ongoing success of a business. It may help deflect blame away from IT management, but it fails to contribute to the greater good by ensuring that the right things are done at the right time to maximise business benefit.

Bestoutcome PM3 is a project management tool that sits alongside established tools and methods, so that compliance to Prince is not an issue, and accurately accounting for your resources through MS Project still goes on—but now there is a framework for evaluating which projects should be tackled from the options available, and when those projects are being planned and monitored, the milestones are looked at in terms of business impact and not just resource utilisation. BestoutcomePM3 does not represent another overhead on Project Management but provides a structured framework to direct Project Management actions in terms of evaluating programmes and projects based on a rigorous ‘objective’ understanding of the likely business outcome.

Bestoutcome PM3 provides a framework for establishing the cost-benefit-risk of all of the competing options and ranks them. Today most development teams have a backlog of requests for delivery, but the actual selection process is far from consistent and rigorous; indeed in many of the IT development shops I have worked in over the years it seems that the projects which get done are those who have the most vociferous sponsors, regardless of true business justification. Bestoutcome PM3 will not prevent senior management railroading inappropriate projects to the top of the agenda but at least there is now a rigorous structure, which shows that on a consistent basis which are the gold, silver and bronze ways to spend limited resources.

When planning projects I have always found the best means to be by looking at what is required and working back from that to identify the milestones required to fulfil the goal. MS Project encourages a start to finish bottom-up approach in which, from the outset, it is almost impossible to see the wood for the bark on an individual branch. Bestoutcome PM3 allows a goal-directed approach to be used, and will enable a milestone framework to be generated visually, which will then aid the completion of detailed plans in MS Project.

As weekly reports are fed into MS Project we build a detailed picture of resource utilization, and will see slippage in terms of effort, but are not really given a framework to assist refactoring in terms of business outcomes. We see the man days we are out by, but not the impact that will have on the utility of the solution. Bestoutcome PM3 integrates Project into its goal directed framework to enable business, benefit and risk related choices to be made, so that instead of options being just cost-based they can be the best for ensuring the outcome in terms of business benefit and the real likelihood of actually realizing that benefit.

Most IT methods stop abruptly on the last day of a project and the realisation of benefits is ignored. Bestoutcome PM3 has the option to look at the realisation of benefit phase with the same rigour and structure as the Evaluation and the Delivery phases of a project. Today many people may well choose to ignore this capability, but it is one that I believe will become increasingly important.

With changes to the governance model of US organisations with things like Sarbanes Oxley, it is now becoming essential to account for how and why resources are being used. It is no longer just enough to show how money was spent but increasingly why it is authorised and what was the outcome of that investment. With Bestoutcome PM3 IT will be able to address that. It is surely better to adopt a tool like this now, rather then being mandated by the CFO to do so in the future. I believe that investing in Bestoutcome PM3 really could be one of the best things an IT development shop could do right now.

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Published by: IT Analysis Communications Ltd.
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