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Will horizontal visibility unlock your project success?

Key on a keyboard: Unlock project success with horizontal visibility

Written by Rhona Aylward


Rhona is Deputy Everything Officer at Psoda, where she does everything except code. After starting life as a microbiologist she moved into PMO leadership roles around the world before settling in New Zealand with her family.

What would you say if I told you you could increase your project success rates, shorten delivery times and reduce rework? And that the information you need to do it already exists in your organisation?

You’d probably say I’m crazy, right?

No. Organisations have a huge amount of really valuable project data which they’re just not accessing and using properly. It could be because it’s locked down on network drives or on someone’s computer. Or it could be that people just aren’t aware that it exists.

Most organisations which run projects have great vertical visibility. What do I mean by that? Projects are likely regularly reporting to some kind of PMO and are organised into programmes with data flowing up and down. They might even have a portfolio office that strategically prioritises programmes and projects. All the project and programme data is regularly reported, tracked and analysed

What organisations don’t have is horizontal visibility. And this is the key to making projects run more efficiently, shortening delivery times and reducing rework.

So what is horizontal visibility?

It’s exactly what it sounds like – visibility of a certain data type across every single project in an organisation.

Who needs horizontal visibility?

You do!

Why?

Let’s use lessons learned as an example.

Imagine you’re a project manager in an organisation with 50 project managers, who each manage an average of three projects a year. That’s 150 projects per year with a huge amount of lessons that are likely sitting somewhere. Not to mention historical information that’s been archived and forgotten.

You’re planning a project that could benefit from some of the lessons learned by the other project managers, but how do you know if it exists? If it does exist, how do you access it?

In an organisation with 50 project managers you’re unlikely to know even 10 of them very well. Especially if they are in different offices or even different countries. So your chances of getting access to their lessons learned information is pretty slim.

Without that information, you’re going to repeat the same mistakes as the predecessor projects.

If you did have access to that information you would avoid the previous mistakes and it could save you huge amounts of time, effort, pain and money! Multiply that across all of the projects in an organisation and you can really appreciate the scale of the potential savings.

Why is it important?

Horizontal visibility is hugely important. It’s using pre-existing data to stop re-inventing the wheel. If you could eliminate even 10% of the problems found in an organisation’s projects, think about the efficiencies you would be making. It’s huge!

Where can you apply it?

You can apply horizontal traceability to any data set that crosses project boundaries, including:

  • Risks
  • Issues
  • Budget
  • Lessons learned
  • Resources
  • Change requests

How do you do it?

If you don’t have a central PPM solution – which in all honestly, any organisation that’s serious about project management should have, it’s going to be very difficult but not impossible.

You’ll need to get some kind of central, searchable, database for all of the information and someone will need to spend time loading everything up and making sure the search function works as it should. Depending on the size of your organisation this could take anything from months to years

As you’re starting your project you could then manually search the database for similar terms and find the information you need.

The manual way is a huge up-front cost in terms of time and resources but the pay-off, if done well, is immense.

It’s easier if you have a central PPM solution. All you need is to be able to search using a specific term. It’s unlikely to be intuitive but it should allow you to search for specific terms across an organisation. If you use Psoda, you already have access to the very tool you’re looking for. It automatically searches across your organisation as you type. The tool’s called Psonar and it’s easily turned on and off.

Psoda plug

Has the idea of horizontal visibility intrigued you? At Psoda we’ve got you covered with our custom-built Psonar tool. It searches across your organisation’s data as you type and flags up data from other projects that might be useful. Giving you full horizontal visibility with no effort. To try Psonar for yourself, sign up for a free trial of Psoda today. Just click on the big red free trial button.

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