This is a common problem. Demos of project management software tools (it’s becoming more fashionable to refer to them as PPM, and soon, I expect, as P3M, software tools) can have a hypnotic effect on an audience. The dazzling graphics that include colourful indicators, bar charts, pie charts, bubble charts and the like, which constitute the dashboards and management information (reporting) elements of the toolset, are very appealing and alluring to perspective purchasers.
The incentive behind investing in such a software tool is usually a desire to improve the organisation’s project management (and possibly programme management and portfolio management) capabilities. The dashboards and reports demonstrated by software vendors seem to present just the right sort of information that an organisation would want to generate, to gain an understanding of the state of its projects in an attractive way. However, after implementing a project management software toolset, organisations very often struggle to achieve good data quality rendering the dashboards and reports meaningless.
As an illustration, consider the difference between accuracy and precision. If I state that the time right now is 10:48hrs and 53.29 seconds, I’m being very precise but I could be very inaccurate, if, say, the time is actually 17:00. It is important, therefore, that organisations are not fooled by well-presented, but possibly precise, data of poor accuracy (quality), causing it to make incorrect decisions.
In order to achieve good data quality, through improving the organisations capabilities, they need to create an environment based on a sound framework of which the toolset is an integral part. It should be simple to use and include clear process definition and guidance, so that users will do the right things to ensure good data quality. It should include content on each of the project management (and perhaps programme management and portfolio management) disciplines and should be appropriate to the organisation’s business environment, culture and current levels of maturity.
If you would like to read more about how to design and implement a simple project management framework, based on recognised methodologies and disciplines, click here