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SmartAdvice: Know The Players When Setting IT Priorities

Involve the CEO, executive committee, and IT staff when deciding on priorities for IT projects, The Advisory Council says. Also, factors to consider when choosing portfolio-management dashboard software, and tips for addressing IT staff morale when projects are cancelled.

Question B: What features should we consider when selecting portfolio-management dashboard software?

Our advice: There are a number of critical success factors to consider when selecting portfolio-management dashboard software, most of which would apply to any mission-critical software. As IT budgets needs to be tightly managed, portfolio-management software can help IT executives track and manage their investments.

Related Links

Best Practices in IT Portfolio Management

Bernard Boar, Practical Steps for Aligning Information Technology with Business Strategies

The foundation question is whether you have all your portfolio information in one system, or whether it resides in multiple places. Assuming your company information is in multiple places, as with most companies, you'll need a solution that can pull together all the different data sources. If all your information is in one data source, then look to the vendor that provided that data source, as they probably have a reporting or dashboard software solution. If, like most people, you have data sources in different places, then look for a vendor that can meet all your needs, based on the checklist provided below.

Technical Considerations

  • How easily can it be integrated into your existing architecture?

  • How many data sources and data warehouses can the dashboard software integrate? It isn't uncommon for portfolio-management dashboard software to be built upon a proprietary, closed architecture, as that was the way things were done prior to Web services. However, this strategy prevents a midsize to large organization from integrating data from disparate data warehouses into the portfolio-management dashboard. Be sure that the software can manage and integrate all data warehouses and data marts, and that you can add data warehouses over time without high costs.

  • How flexible or scalable is the solution? How easy is it to add or change data sources? Can you change the metrics on the dashboard over time? Are ad hoc query capabilities available?

  • Does the software offer multiple views of the same data based on user level or focus. How many users will need to see this dashboard, and how often will they need to access it?

  • Is the software secure?

  • How easy is it to save, change, and print reports?

Business Considerations

  • Does the software offer real-time, around-the-clock reporting capabilities?

  • Is the software solution cost effective? There's no need to pay millions for a portfolio-management dashboard, no matter how large your company is.

  • Will the solution provide for a staged approach, so you can see great returns in a rapid time frame.

  • Can it be built quickly? Web-services-based dashboards can be built in as little as six- to eight-weeks.

  • Are the reports actionable? Alert-based?

  • Does the portfolio-management software offer enterprise-reporting capabilities? Are the reports targeted at the decision makers within the organization, but offering drill-down capabilities to explore questions in detail?

  • Is the dashboard easy to use, and easy to configure and change from a technical perspective?

  • Can the software grab and aggregate data from different departments and data sources?

  • Can the user define their key performance indicators and have those formulas (when applicable) built into the software for your company?

-- Vanessa DiMauro

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