Community Forum – What program management tools do you use?
As our innovation funnels grow in size and/or complexity to achieve corporate growth ambitions, our program management teams must become more efficient with their time and finite resources. Therefore, we are seeking advice, best practices, and emerging systems & tools in the area of project and program management.
1. Beyond the commonly known tools and techniques like MS Project or Agile Product Development, are there new or existing Program Management tools and approaches that you have found to be exceptionally valuable in your organization?
- Microsoft OneNote
- Managing timelines in Excel
- Program management is still developing in maturity as we define a common approach.
- Time tracking software to measure the amount of resource spent on individual project, programs, markets, applications, etc.
- QlikView for displaying data
- We only currently use MS Project and Agile Product Development.
- We have a customized version of a commercial Project Management software that we use for portfolio reporting and program management. We assign projects to Programs within the software and then extract Program-level reports directly.
- Total project overview database
- Our Lean Six Sigma department uses a platform called PowerSteering for program management of these projects. This is not managed in my area so the assessment of value is “at a distance”, but it seems to have useful data organization, search, and metric roll-up capabilities.
2. Are there tools that you use to better automate innovation/product development activity workflows and communicate next steps in the project plan?
- Microsoft OneNote
- We have evaluated tools like SmartSheets, ServiceNow, etc. that look helpful but we have not implemented them.
- We utilize Clarizen which is enhancing the Program part of their tool.
- Home grown software to guide new product development projects, ensuring all critical activities are being covered. Hype software to help with idea generation, crowdsourcing, idea ranking and idea building. The main benefit of these tools is not to reduce project review meetings. The main goal is to enable higher quality projects, better customer alignment, and less re-work buy getting it right the first time.
- MS Server
- MS Office Suite
- Portfolio status reports from the software show current stage & planned next gate date for member projects. We also have free text fields within each project view to document “This Period’s Accomplishments” and “Planned Next Steps”
- Accolade, MWS, smartsheet
- We have fairly limited workflow automation features that are embedded into our customized data tracking system for stage-gate projects. Automation is limited to the gate approval process among multiple decision makers. There is more sophisticated workflow that is embedded into Sales Force.com and utilized for single-customer sales opportunities that require technology resources to specify the product design.
3. Have any of these tools allowed you to reduce required time spent in recurring project review meetings?
- Yes (two responses)
- Not Yet
- The process of reviews must be addressed, the tool supports the process.
- Not to a large extent
- We have full-time Program Managers for each Steering Unit; their regular portfolio reviews with the SU leadership teams generally include a high-level overview of each project, and the resulting SU-level alignment (on the program/portfolio level) has eliminated a lot of time spent on more detailed project reviews, particularly for the lower-priority projects
- I’m confident (although don’t have access to the data) that the Sales Force.com tool has improved efficiencies related to project reviews.