Mind The "consumption" Gap

Any news story that starts with the term 'Powerful project portfolio management (PPM) and professional services automation products' has way too many letter P's for starters and is likely to confuse the bejesus out of most of us – I would like to politely argue.But seemingly undeterred by this challenge, Compuware has chosen to use this precise term to describe its Changepoint 2010 team collaboration offering.

Any news story that starts with the term 'Powerful project portfolio management (PPM) and professional services automation products' has way too many letter P's for starters and is likely to confuse the bejesus out of most of us – I would like to politely argue.

But seemingly undeterred by this challenge, Compuware has chosen to use this precise term to describe its Changepoint 2010 team collaboration offering. The company claims that the latest enhancements to its product will enable customers to close the “consumption gap”, a state that it defines as, "The difference between product functionality offered and the features actually used by customers."

IMAGE DESCRIPTION' Free Image: Wikimedia Commons

So what is project portfolio management (PPM) and why should we care about it?

Ask HP and they'll probably hit you with more acronyms and start talking about BTO i.e. Business Technology Optimisation. Ask IBM and they'll start talking about the need to align business and IT (*yawn*) and the need to treat IT assets as financial assets. Or ask Compuware and they'll tell you about 'customer-sponsored' usability enhancements – horrible term, but I think we know what they mean.

Alternatively, ask independent author, speaker and self-styled PPM guru Michael Greer and you'll get the clearest definition that I've ever read. Greer says, "Project Portfolio Management (PPM) is a management process designed to help an organisation acquire and view information about all of its projects, then sort and prioritise each project according to certain criteria, such as strategic value, impact on resources, cost and so on."

So does Compuware have a point now that we can (hopefully) position PPM a little better? If we use PPM in the development shop arena can the consumption gap be closed up so that we can all bask in the warm glow of shared efficiencies?

OK so, available from July 15 this year, here's what's new in Changepoint 2010 (1000 words condensed into 85):

There's mobile device support from Blackberry or iPhone for product management professionals to participate in workflow-driven approval cycles. There's an embedded screen capture utility in the service desk and request management module to enable better analysis and faster resolution of support issues. Enhanced cross-functional technology team collaboration tools. Improved executive decision making via new visibility into resource demand as a critical input to decision making. Finally, there is enhanced data integrity and the ability to add user-specific inline help pertaining to a business and process.

Despite a somewhat convoluted approach to the language it uses to describe its technology, Compuware has clearly got a market for this offering as evidenced by its strong position in the Gartner Magic Quadrant – if you afford such showboating with credibility that is.

It's a tough one; the 'aligning business to IT story' is hardly fresh. Somebody needs to come up with a more radical approach, or at least a more radical way of expressing it. Please.

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