Portfolios are Personal

Think about your portfolios. Your portfolio of investments. Your portfolio of art. Your portfolio of achievements at work. These portfolios are personal. Where most enterprise project management applications fail is that they do not allow for the personal nature of portfolio management.

Of course, and organization has a portfolio of initiatives. It is usually going to be managed around some strategic plan. Plans breed initiatives, initiatives breed programs, programs breed projects. This is the organization’s view of the portfolio. This portfolio bridges teams, geography, even organizational boundaries, and ties multiple, disparate teams together.

That being said, at each level of this hierarchy – organization, initiative, program, and project, there are different portfolios to manage. Making a project manager who has only one or two projects work off the organizational portfolio makes no sense. This is why individual projects are usually managed individually.

However, at the program level, individually managed projects are hard to combine, dependencies across projects are hard to manage, and version management is a hassle. Of course, this works right into software vendors’ hands, as  upgrades, additional products and higher licensing costs promise to “fix” these issues.

What is really needed is an easy way to combine and recombine projects, sub-projects, and programs to the needs of the individual who must manage his or her own portfolio. Why shouldn’t the same projects be able to be categorized, managed, updated and rolled up in many different forms to meet the personal needs of each stakeholder?

This is the social approach to portfolio management. And this is what ProjExec 6 provides.

See ProjExec 6 at IBM Connect, Booth #222.

Next Post: Strategic planning from the bottom up…

ProjExec 6 – Taking Social Project Management to the Next Level

Social Project Management is about engaging the team in collaboration around its project and project schedule. But what about disparate teams working on multiple projects on a program, or even multiple projects that are related only at a strategic-initiative level?

Program and Portfolio Management tools have attempted to address this issue but are, in general driven by top down, hierarchical planning.  So, what would a “social” approach to Program and Portfolio management look like?

Social is about getting people the tools they need to create and manage their own “reality”. Portfolios at the organization level are different than portfolios at the person level. Whereas an organization’s portfolio has a certain structure, at each level of the organization, a person’s “portfolio” has a much different structure. An individual program manager, a manager of projects, or a project team member may each have a portfolio of projects to “manage”.

In many cases, these “alternative” portfolios are not organized in the same manner as the hierarchical structure of the organization’s portfolio. So, a social approach to program or portfolio management should allow both the organization’s view and multiple, alternative views of project structures to be represented and executed – simultaneously.

Over the next week, we will  present several posts about this idea. But to get you thinking, here is a video about ProjExec 6, which attempts to bring top-down and bottom-up social program and portfolio management together in a single, social product.

IBM Connect 2014 – See ProjExec 6 in Action!

If you’re heading to Orlando for IBM Connect 2014 (http://www-01.ibm.com/software/collaboration/events/connect/), stop by pedestal 222 and see ProjExec 6, and the new SocialGantt Chart component. With ProjExec 6, social project management becomes social program management. Combine any number of project schedules into a single SocialGantt. Then, socially collaborate on as many projects as you want, all from a single schedule view.

ProjExec 6 retains its long-standing position as the only integrated social project management system for IBM Connections.

See you in Orlando!

IBM Connect 2013 – Purposeful Adoption

IBM Connect 2013 (Lotusphere) is in full swing today. It is clear that the focus this year is driving adoption of IBM Connections. At the opening general session, Alistair Rennie pitched the term “purposeful” adoption. Later in the same session, IBM announced three initiatives here to help, including a set of 10 best practices for social adoption (link to follow).

It was clear from the focus of these best practices that we’ve moved past the point of technology, and to the point of process and cultural adoption of social business. IBM Connections, as a platform, is very impressive, and the demos of Connections next were even more so. But, as IBM’s pitch discussed, the technology is simply a means to an end. If the end is to socialize your business, to turn your business into a collaboration engine, then the reality is that you need to get people engaged with the platform, and the way that you get people engaged is to give them multiple reasons to use the social business platform.

What is also clear is that the business partner community seems to have finally realized that the future of Lotus Notes is IBM Connections, and the majority of the exciting products on the show floor are Connections based rather than Domino based. Finally, the rest of the community is understanding the vision of social business.

As we have blogged previously, the value of a social business network grows non-linearly as the number of people connected to the network grows, AND THEN is multiplied by the number of business contexts and processes that are brought into the social platform.

As we blogged then:

“Social Business Applications are the value multiplier of social business platforms.  They provide new reasons for users to engage with the platform, and they provide value above and beyond traditional versions of applications for all the reasons that social business platforms provide value – they connect the right resources (inside and outside of teams ) in order to get work done more efficiently and effectively.”

IBM is pitching “purposeful” adoption. We say that if you give people purpose on the platform, they will adopt the platform willingly. As we’ve argued previously, Project Management is an excellent “purpose” for social business, and it a natural fit for companies.

ProjExec 5.5 integrates seamlessly with IBM Connections 3 & 4, as well as the IBM SmartCloud for Social Business. Come see us at booth C20-C21, and find out how Social Project Management can multiple your investment in IBM Social Software.

IBM Connections: The Market Leading Enterprise Social Platform

The news is out. IDC has announced that IBM Connections is yet again the #1 Social Media Platform, and its advantage is growing. We here at Trilog Group congratulate our partners at IBM for this excellent achievement, and we are proud to be a leading social business application provider for the IBM Connections platform.

Read the IDC report here.

Read Luis Benitez’ blog about this here.

ProjExec is the social project management solution for the IBM Connections platform. It provides full, rigorous project management capabilities, while also providing the social collaboration features that today’s teams require. Check it out below.

The Problem of Engagement in Social Business

Constellation Research blogged earlier this month about the issues that folks are seeing with social media adoption. Of course, as constellation research says, “People” are at the heart of any technology adoption process. Let’s summarize the info that Constellation provides.

First, Constellation argues that there are five leading barriers to adoption, 1) Poorly defined incentives, 2) Increase in actual effort, 3) Lack of choice in user experience, 4) Indifference to change, and 5) Failure to communicate the urgency.  There is really nothing new here, as these barriers are not unique to social business applications, but are applicable to any software adoption cycle.

Next, Constellation argues that there are five ways to counter these barriers, 1) Adopt gamification strategies, 2) Apply design thinking to transform, 3) Deliver options based on use case, 4) Align to self –interest, and 5) Define the business model shift. There is a little more meat here, so let’s try to pull it off the bone.

First, #1 – adopting gamification strategies. This is certainly all the rage these days. However, is a gamification strategy always a good way to incentivize participation? Definitely not. If a gamification-based incentive strategy is not linked to the need to perform actual work, participation will be perceived by employees as an ‘increase in actual effort’ – one of the barriers that was mentioned above. So, gamification might have a place, but it will not stand alone.

Next, #2 – Applying design thinking to transform. This one is so full of jargon it’s hard to draw out what is meant. However, if the real argument is to recognize that the desired outcome cannot be identified without trial, error, and adjustment (the hallmark of a scenario when design thinking is necessary), then this is clearly true. But it’s also not unique to a social business application implementation.

#3 – Deliver options based on use case. This is theoretically an excellent idea. However, in practice, most software development efforts barely have the budget to create a single, well-performing, interface, let alone multiple well performing ones. However, it is a truism in the mobile age that applications can no longer be PC-centric in their delivery mode.

#4 – Align to self-interest. Now we’re getting somewhere. The best way to maximize adoption of anything, is to appeal to the “what’s in it for me” aspect of the person involved. Really, the five barriers that are mentioned above really all come out of the person’s inability to see what’s in it for them. We’ll come back to this.

Finally, #5 – define the business model shift. This is really just another way to say #4.

So, in reality, barriers to adoption ALL arise from the lack of communicating “what’s in it for me” to the users. And this is the key disconnect between adoption of social media outside the enterprise, and the adoption of social media inside the enterprise. When a person *chooses* to adopt a social media technology outside the context of work, it is just that, a choice, and it is voluntary. The person herself defines what is in it for them, and then chooses to adopt or not. She cannot be compelled, she cannot be forced. She is incentivized to participate by the value that participation brings to her.

In the business social context, the market dynamic is distorted by the fact that participation in enterprise apps can be made mandatory – without the value of the participation being real to the user. This is the source of the barriers identified above, and the force that is attempted to be mitigated by the actions that Constellation recommends. However, the five actions that constellation recommends will simply not work, if actual value is not provided for participation. For instance, gamification strategies do not provide real value for the person involved unless, as Constellation argues, you create tangible and intangible benefits for participating. But is the goal of a social business implementation simple participation? Or is the goal participation with the intention of getting business done more effectively and efficiently? Should I implement software for which I must create new incentives for participation, or should I implement software that is inherently congruent with existing incentives? Should I incentivize people for playing the “game”, or for getting things “done”?

The reality is that social business platform and application adoption strategies like those argued for by Constellation put the cart before the horse. If a technology helps people complete their actual jobs better, and is easy to understand and use, almost every person will see the value to participation and will choose to participate, rather than having to be forced to participate, or cajoled into participation with weak incentives like gift cards, etc.

Social business platforms and applications will no longer have an adoption problem if 1) they integrate real business processes into the platform, so that the platform is the way the process is done, and 2) the new “social” way to do the process is better than the old way of doing things.

How do companies work toward making this the case? First, they create a social platform, and integrate apps into it, so that islands of “social” software do not create impediments to easy enterprise collaboration. Second, they integrate social business applications into the platform to multiply the value of the platform. Finally, they apply social when necessary, and don’t just hit everything with the “social” hammer. Not all processes are best managed using social business applications.

When an organization provides a social business platform and ecosystem that provides value to their employees, participation will not be something that has to be enforced, but will be something that is natural and organic. The kinds of prescriptions in the blog listed above are indicative of organizations that still must “convince” their users that there is value for them in participation – which probably means that there is not.

The Collapsing Universe of Social Business

Dion Hinchcliffe over at the Enterprise 2.0 blog asks “Will Social Software Startups ‘Collapse into the orbit’ of the big vendors?“. He shows just a small subset of the mergers and acquisitions in the space in the past few years, and the picture painted is one of significant consolidation in the social media playing field.

This is a predictable shift, based upon our view of social business software, and the symbiotic relationships between social business platforms and social business applications. Because siloed social business applications make little sense (see here), it is a natural progression for social business application vendors to become closely bound to particular vendors’ platforms. Once the integration between the systems becomes close enough, and enough customers exist for the social business application, it is rather likely that many of the social business applications will be consolidated into platform vendors like IBM, Jive, Salesforce.com, and, Microsoft. Because the number of integrated business processes multiplies the value of the platform itself, it is a natural progression to see these platform vendors expanding the natural value of the platforms through acquisition.