Project Portfolio Management Tool for Small to Mid-Sized Companies

Portfolio2For any size business that undertakes multiple simultaneous projects, the ability to manage the project portfolio is a constant struggle (1).  In particular, the portfolio over time tends to move to a higher state of disorder akin to the concept of entropy (2). Think about what happens at most companies, large and small: over time, more projects get started before existing projects are complete. Engineers are expected to work on not just one or two projects, which is ideal, but now must multi-task across multiple projects. On top of that, important customers demand new software features or enhancements to existing products, further diluting the focus on current projects. Statements like “every project seems to be late, never early”, “we always underestimate project cycle time” and “we constantly pull team members from a project to fix high priority customer requests” are common, especially in small to mid-sized firms. There are simply too many projects for too few resources, and the system grinds to halt.  Continue reading

The Innovation Planning Paradox

planningConventional wisdom is that a robust planning process is crucial for long term financial success. Countless books, articles and consultants emphasize the importance of long-term planning in managing innovation. Surveys suggest that companies with effective planning processes are more satisfied with their ability to innovate. For some companies, the new product development (NPD) planning horizon may be measured in months, but in other industries such as pharmaceuticals and chemicals, it may be measured in years. A recent biography of Bill Cook (1), an entrepreneur who started Cook Inc., a private Indiana-based +$1B medical device manufacturing company, made me wonder: Is a formal, robust long-term planning process a necessary condition for innovation success?  Continue reading