Why even the best PPM software needs the human touch

Big data is everywhere - and when used correctly, it can offer the PPM world innumerable insights. However, while big data is the big buzzword out there, successful projects and portfolios were executed way before computers. Extra data is great, but it’s only as good as the human mind(s) behind it.

Albert Einstein stated “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Just because we have access to mountains of data, doesn’t necessarily mean that we will find anything useful within it.

 

Softwares to analyze and make sense of the 40 trillion gigabytes Big Data

The most common interpretation of big data is the systematic analysis of huge volumes of data in order to find patterns and behaviors that are not readily apparent. It is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack or diamonds in the rough. IDC reports that the digital world will grow 300-fold between 2005 and 2020 to contain 40 trillion gigabytes of data. Yet, only one percent of this data is currently being analyzed.

However, even the best software that’s designed to capture, track and make sense of this information is rendered powerless if data isn’t entered or treated correctly in the first place - you’ve heard the phrase GIGO? (Garbage in, garbage out.)

Companies are crunching numbers in projects in virtually every industry. Insurance companies use data to analyse risk, while financial institutions predict stock movements. Agricultural firms track weather patterns and crop yields, while retail centres map where teens shop for jeans and women stock up on make-up.

 

Project and Portfolio Managers to help analyze the Big Data

Still, to make sense of the data, project and portfolio managers need to focus on human decision making elements as much as glistening software. The quality of decision-making needs to be as high quality as the data itself.

Time and again, we see the results of big data unmediated by human touch and common sense - whether it’s recommendations we didn’t request or completely incongruent sales management, like retirement villages for kids.

Human-oriented decisions must play a fundamental role in any complex portfolio strategy, or company’s risk alienating their stakeholders and damaging their brands.

Look over the figures - and ensure that appropriate team members keep figures up to date. To succeed in deliverables, there is still work that must be done. PPM software is simply there to improve the process.

 

PPM automation tools need the human touch to improve Big Data analysis

To have any kind of success, elements of PPM automation need a beating heart. Software like Sciforma is smart, but it’s not a mind reader. It can’t predict what your company goals are, or if your programs are staying aligned to those goals. It can’t think of a creative solution. And it can’t come up with a fantastic new way to crack a pressing problem.

Generating reports and analyzing results are two different competencies. Until a portfolio manager knows what their benchmarks will be, what their target is and how to extrapolate that data into ongoing strategy, those numbers will remain only numbers.

One set of human skills that is becoming increasingly important in this era of frenetic and profound change is management skills. As companies are required to become more responsive and data-driven, the more astute have incorporated the PPM as a strategic partner rather than as an administrative function. This means that the modern PPM leader has to balance a daunting array of very human skills: authority, insight, analytic ability, political acumen, diplomacy and approachability – to name a few.

 

Project Portfolio Managers are crucial to balance software use and individual needs

The PPM of today needs to strike a careful balance between the needs of individuals and the aims of the business as a whole. No matter what digital tools and techniques have been introduced, there has been, and probably always will be, a need for highly skilled and intelligent humans to make the best use of them, as well as needing equally talented managers to keep them motivated and organized.

You may use new and evolving tools to make those things happen, but the tool is secondary to the moment it helps create. Prioritize customer service, be human, and put the focus on people first, channel second.