Islandia, N.Y.-based CA Technologies Inc.’s move to integrate its project and portfolio management (PPM) software with Salesforce.com’s Chatter collaboration tool will, according to one analyst, drive adoption to PPM technologies, however, whether the social capability will improve users’ ability to manage projects remains to be seen.
“The real question is, will executives see more accurate forecasts based on more current planning and actuals data?” said Barry Cousins, senior analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group Inc.
PPM tools are supposed to help business leaders manage resources in order to complete initiatives and ultimately take them to market, said Cousins. But, he added, PPM technologies have traditionally suffered from low adoption, which then means good data becomes limited to those who need it to manage projects.
Cousins warns that while injecting social into the fray will help increase usage of PPM tools, users have so many collaboration options at their fingertips that “adding another one to the PPM tool doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to become better project estimators and do a better job of tracking their actual progress on their work.”
Ken Jochims, senior product marketing manager for PPM software at CA Technologies, said the integration of Chatter into project management allows for better tracking of things such as individual features, documents and requirements, as well as components of a project that fall beyond the boundary of a PPM system “and put it in one container if you will.”
The Chatter integration—which, Jochims said was a natural choice of collaboration tool considering parts of the company’s PPM platform is built atop salesforce.com—is better than using the usual e-mail for tracking project tasks.
Moreover, the integration means non-PPM users, such as stakeholders who are not part of the project team, can also monitor the project’s progression. “You’re almost overhearing or tapping into a project using Chatter … unless someone is updating you on a daily basis,” said Jochims.
The challenge for IT project managers, said Jochims, is the “spreadsheet on steroids” that is a futile attempt at tracking details, and the use of tools, such as Instant Messaging, that are not designed as project management tools.
But Jochims warns that the industry shouldn’t “overhype the requirement for social” in all technologies, in that it should only be applied where appropriate. “It’s like saying if you’ve got a hammer, every problem looks like a nail,” said Jochims.