Intelligent PPM: Getting to the true “Why”?

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The Wisdom of a Child

It is fun and exciting to witness a child beginning to explore the world around themselves and feed their curiosity. I can remember when my three children were at this age like it was yesterday and some of the questions they came up with never ceased to amaze me. In particular, their tendency to keep asking the question “Why?” about the same topic continuously was quite comical while sometimes draining. If I did not give them a satisfactorily detailed answer to the age-old question “Why does the sun set?”, they would simply keep asking “Why?” until I took the time to truly answer their question. (Ironically, my son who is now 16 years old still does this to me when I tell him “no”, but that is a whole different story…😊)

In today’s complex business world, we should learn some lessons from our children. Particularly at the intersection of technology and business, it is critical that we continuously ask the question “Why?” until we get to the true answer. A great example of this is in the Project Portfolio Management (PPM) space and a trend towards more intelligent PPM.

PPM Is Now Getting to the “Why?”

PPM tools are designed to help organizations better manage project portfolios by improving resource allocation, optimizing budgeting, and providing consistent project visibility across the enterprise. In many cases, these tools can only go so deep to answer the question “Why?” because there is a limit to the data these tools access to drive their reporting dashboards. The inputs to most PPM tools come from project team members entering status updates manually that are rolled up across the portfolio so that the PMO can perform analysis, modeling, etc. However, a PMO office would often still need to go speak directly with a project team to get to the underlying technical cause of a project delay.

Let’s take an example of a portfolio of software development projects (or products). A traditional PPM tool can often help with the following:

  • Flag troubled projects that are behind schedule
  • Identify where to focus more resources and which resources to utilize
  • Model some different scenarios to help make more informed decisions

A strong PPM tool may even be able to answer the first “Why?” question – Why is this particular project behind schedule so often? Maybe the answer is that this is a software product that is frequently prone to production issues and/or outages requiring the project team to spend too much time on tier 3 support or troubleshooting. If we take some wisdom from our childhood, we should then be asking the next “Why?” question such as: Why exactly is this software product prone to so many production issues? This is where most PPM tools fail to give the next answer because they simple don’t have access to the detailed technical data necessary to answer this question clearly and objectively. This is where Software Intelligence comes in and helps make PPM more intelligent.

Intelligent PPM Powered by Software Intelligence

On February 4, CAST partner, Keyedin announced a strategic partnership that integrates Software Intelligence data coming from CAST Highlight into KeyedIn Projects 7.0, its top-rated cloud-based project portfolio management (PPM) solution. Via this integration, KeyedIn is able to provide enterprise leaders with more objective analytics about their software projects and continue answering the next logical “Why?” question. CAST Highlight analyzes software application source code and delivers Software Intelligence metrics that include Resiliency, Elegance, Agility, and Cloud Readiness. These metrics are calculated objectively based on actual analysis of the source code itself and adherence to software engineering best practices.

Software-projects-by-business-impact-and-software-resiliency

Fig 1: The chart above comes directly out of CAST Highlight and shows a portfolio of software projects represented by colored bubbles plotted on a chart where Business Impact is on the vertical axis and Software Resiliency is on the horizontal axis. The size of the bubbles represents the relative size of each software application in terms of Lines of Code (LoC). Dashboards such as this one help enterprise leaders make more informed decisions about software projects based on objective data.

For example, the Software Resiliency metric is a measurement of reliability or robustness of a software application project. Another way to think about this metric is it answers the question: How likely is my application prone to production issues or outages? and more importantly “Why?” A specific code insight that CAST Highlight may find that reduces the Resiliency score of a JavaScript application could be: Avoid Repetitive Access to Nested Members. This practice can dramatically slow down the performance of a web application and should be replaced with better performing programming practices. CAST Highlight will clearly identify a code issue such as this and recommend better coding practices to increase the application’s overall Resiliency.

By incorporating this more objective data that can only be gained by analyzing the actual software source code, CAST Highlight directly integrated with KeyedIn Projects 7.0 can now help enterprise leaders answer the next “Why?” question when it comes to a troubled project and drive much more informed decision making based on a much greater level of objectivity powered by Software Intelligence. This gives visibility on how well the project teams are utilizing resources and funding across the Enterprise IT Portfolio. It helps more accurately identify if the money is going into maintenance or into enhancing and developing products achieving the ultimate goal of continuous improvement and agility with the best returns from IT investments.

To learn more about the partnership between CAST and KeyedIn, check this video. 

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Greg Rivera
Greg Rivera Vice President
As Vice President of CAST Highlight, Greg leads product strategy for the CAST SaaS platform helping customers and partners accelerate app modernization / cloud migration, rationalize their app portfolios, and reduce open source risk. He has worked with Fortune 1000 companies such as Microsoft, IDG Communications, and Arrow Electronics for over 20 years in technology and media, helping them make successful digital transformations. Greg has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and an M.S. in Management of Technology and is passionate about applying technology to improve business and our everyday lives.
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