3 reasons to trade in traditional project management for adaptive PPM

by The Smartsheet Team

Whether it’s due to a global event, like the pandemic, or an innovative new idea or technology, disruption is increasingly common, forcing businesses to quickly pivot or risk becoming irrelevant in the marketplace. With the possibility of change always looming on the horizon, how a company manages its projects is a key indicator of its resilience.

While many project management tools are available, alignment across the enterprise is important for effective operations and decision-making. A growing number of project management offices (PMO) are rejecting traditional tools in favor of new adaptive methods, according to a recent report by Gartner

Adaptive project and portfolio management (PPM) puts an emphasis on automation to support the agility and transparency needed by today’s project managers and teams. Adaptive PPM tools offer real-time dashboard views on a centralized platform, creating a better method for project prioritization and reporting. 

Gartner predicts that half of PMOs will have adopted adaptive PPM methods by 2024 as part of their digital business evolution. Here are three reasons you might want to do the same:

Everyone is managing projects, but not everyone is trained as a project manager

Completing project work isn’t the same as managing the project — these are two distinct skill sets — yet managers and employees need to be adept at both. To stay on top of workflow, adaptive PM tools leverage automation that can eliminate the need for hyper-focused supervision. 

According to the “Future of Work” survey by Harvard Business Review (HBR), 52% of global executives believe a single platform combining workflow management with intelligent automation and collaboration is the best way to coordinate operations. By automatically pushing work to the next step, teams can move projects through the ideation, execution, and review phases, eliminating the risk of a step falling through the cracks due to an inadvertent oversight. A centralized dashboard with automatic reporting creates accountability through visibility and transparency, which can help employees better manage themselves.

Abstract image of connected check boxes

Intuitive adaptive tools also eliminate the learning curve that slows down progress while an employee is trained on the platform. Easy-to-understand tools encourage innovation and unleash employees’ ability to creatively solve problems with effortless customization. Employees and managers can create the solutions they need without having to register an IT help desk ticket. 

Flexibility is key when continually adapting to changing customer needs 

As customers’ needs change, companies need to collaborate and pivot. Old methods of managing workflow that were deployed years ago, such as spreadsheets and email, do not sufficiently support a company’s changing needs. In addition to being disconnected and cumbersome, these tools are not user-friendly or scalable. In the HBR survey, 70% of global executives said the tools, applications, and platforms they use are not adequate for a future that includes intelligent technologies. 

Integrating agile cloud-based tools that offer adaptive PM and reporting technology—typically deployed via software as a service (SaaS)—is now a priority for organizations. Organizations are seeking flexible ways to define and manage projects, such as a customizable interface that allows teams to build what they need to visualize, manage, and execute projects. This helps with onboarding as well as allowing employees to adapt the tool to their work style and preferences without losing time as they adapt to an unfamiliar new tool.

Platforms should also offer the ability to add widgets and integrate complementary functionality to pivot to meet current needs. Flexible solutions allow teams to adapt to the changing demands of customers and evolve with the nature and scale of any project.

Plans need to be dynamic — and tied to the actual work being done

Strategic planning and execution need real-time visibility. According to the HBR survey, just 32% of executives have a system in place that provides a dynamic view of company progress toward key plans and deadlines. One problem is that old tools often exist in siloes, which can cause duplication in work or missed opportunities. 

An adaptive PPM platform removes siloes for a dynamic single source of truth that helps facilitate improved decision-making. A visible dashboard keeps teams moving together towards clearly defined strategies and desired business outcomes, connecting goals to plans of execution. 

The centralized hub also aligns teams with transparent communication, collaboration, and data sharing, which is vital when strategies need to shift or evolve due to disruptions in the market or new priorities. In a survey by Clear Company, 97% of employees and executives believe lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a task or project, and 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. 

The movement toward adopting adaptive PPM methods has the power to transform organizations. Adaptive tools help drive productivity, improve strategic planning and execution, and keep working from the same playbook. With real-time visibility, organizations will be ready for the future.

Want to learn more about Project and Portfolio Management? Check out our PPM guide for tips and best practices.