Consumer packaged goods companies typically have 400-500 projects or products open at a single point in time. Without the right tools, tracking and visibility across an entire portfolio becomes a constant challenge.
People have to collect data across multiple siloed departments, from off-line folders, documents, and dashboards, to answer their most pressing questions – Do we have the resources required to support the projects? Are we getting the ROI we need to meet fiscal goals for the year? Are we on track to meet our hurdle rates? Do we need to add more projects? Can we redirect the ones that aren’t on track?
Pulling together a clear answer to these questions can take an entire quarter, especially when the process is done manually. By the time that information reaches a decision maker’s hands, it’s already out of date.
For these reasons, when a company implements our project analytics suite that automatically aligns data across entire portfolios, it can feel like turning on the lights for the very first time.
We spoke to Paul Cegles, Director of Product Portfolio Management at Selerant, about the difference the right analytics tools can make. As a former beleaguered analyst himself, Paul understands both the pain of the scramble, and the miracle of suddenly having timely, accurate information at your fingertips.
Benefit #1: One-stop shopping for a product business case
Devex’s Innovation Process Management Suite (IPMS) allows teams to input data through dedicated panels built for Marketing, R&D, Packaging, etc. throughout the product lifecycle. This makes it far easier to create a comprehensive business case, with a full set of financials, and a profit and loss statement. At a project level managers can pull compliance status on nutritional restrictions, and see product specifications – the bill of materials, list of ingredients, and product specs with manufacturing instructions. Phase by phase it outlines the deliverables that should be done to get through the gate check.
For more qualitative support, IPMS includes a document repository that can hold university studies, articles, and research from outside Devex that support the case for the product. It becomes a single source of truth where ICs, PMs, gatekeepers can go to put together a comprehensive cross-cultural business case.
Benefit # 2: A better handle on timing and resources
When managers can see real-time project data at an individual project level, and also at the portfolio level, they can better understand resources and time-to-market status. They can diagnose issues quickly – Are we front-end loaded or backend loaded (all at Stage 1 or all at Stage 4-5 getting ready for release)? Is our resource capacity sufficient for the timelines we’ve set?
With up to date resource and progress data, project managers don’t have to wait for employees to say they’re overloaded. They can see when someone is over-allocated or under-allocated, and proactively make the necessary resource shifts. They can use data to make a case for temporary employees if project needs are about to ramp up in the coming quarter. This results in faster time to market, less burnout, and much more efficient use of talent.
Benefit #3: Better decisions through real-time transparency
Having data visibility across the board, at both the project and portfolio level, empowers people to act like business owners instead of silo owners. Without that transparency, decisions can become political – business units tend to be in constant competition. With finite resources available, there are only so many projects one company can do in a single quarter. In the absence of shared, real-time data, the loudest voice often rules the day.
On the other hand, when everyone shares the same clear perspective on resources, market impact, and financial goals, they are able to act on solid information rather than personal ambitions. Politics and competition never go away entirely, but transparency levels the playing field, and opens the product conversation to the bigger business perspective. That leads to better product decisions across the board, and better portfolio decisions in turn.
Benefit #4: Clear forecasting for timely course corrections
Hurdle rates are easier to maintain when there is an accessible way to track progress in real time. In IPMS project managers can compare the forecast against hurdle rates and see an automatically generated red/yellow/green rating, to know how close they are to the target. If the project status is red (not meeting the hurdle rate) they can make faster decisions about whether to continue this project, or whether to make course corrections like inflating the volume. All of those decisions are documented in IPMS along with the rest of the project data, so that nothing is lost for future decisions.
With the right dashboards in IPMS a new culture begins to emerge, one that values transparency and data-based decision-making. Teams can decide to cut projects or add projects to close the financial gap. They can balance resources, and finally answer the most crucial question – Is our portfolio in line with our strategic objectives?