For more than 15 years, I have been part of selling and implementing IT solutions for improved project portfolio management. Too many times, I find myself reviewing and responding to a long list of technical requirements based on a generic questionaire, that can be purchased online. The requirements typically try to capture every single scenario a PPM tool must be able to handle, and 90% of the times, the answers to the questions are simply "Yes" or "Yes but need configuration". Regardless, I try my best to reply as good as I can, although the process in itself is stealing away my positive energy.
I assume a requirement specification is prepared to lower the risks of purchasing something that doesn't do the job in the end. This obviously makes sense as an organization would always try to avoid spending good money on bad initiatives. Now, we only need to ensure that great leadership is put behind the implementation internally at the organization, and this is where I must admit that I often get very disappointed.
Why is it, that the leadership team behind e.g. the implementation of a PPM tool, typically consists of those who, by coincidence, have the most calendar availability?
Why is it, that organizations dont see a need for preparing a requirement specification for the ideal candidate that should own, and deliver on the change management internally?
In my perfect world, vendors like my company, who have promised a quality solution, should do a reverse requirement specification, only addressing the skills and behaviours of the "to-be" owner of the change initiative. Not doing so leaves the vendor with the full risk, and the potential of getting all the blame, regardless of how the implementation was dealt with internally.
So here is my simplified requirement specification of the leader, who is about to take on an implementation of a Project Portfolio Management solution:
I could probably come up with several more questions, that could be part of a leadership requirement specification, for any person about to take on an initiative such as implementing project and portfolio management tools. Organizations must understand, that implementing certain IT tools, such as project portfolio management, is a situation, where you know you must change the way people work, but you honestly dont know exactly how they are going to work. Certainly, this is not a simple installation but rather a business transformation. This requires superior skills in change management rather than relying solely on a document explaining functional requirements.
If you want to really lower your risks during the implementation of an IT PPM tool, start with finding the ideal candidate for internally implementing, and sustaining the change.