The New CA PPM: Convenient, Collaborative and Powerful

How ethnographic research is redefining project and portfolio management

If you’re reading this blog, then you probably know that CA is the leader in product and portfolio management. We’re proud of that fact.  But to remain a leader, we must continuously innovate leveraging customer connections, gain insights into existing markets and have a solid vision for the future.

Accordingly, we recently instituted an ethnographic research study to get a very deep understanding of PPM users. We wanted to know how we could simplify processes; what new features should take priority and how we could better serve our customers. We wanted to not only see into the minds of these users, but to live their experiences.

User-centric approach to research

The advantage of user-centric research (such as ethnography) is that it allows us to gain profound insight into the experience of the individuals that use our products. Rather than traditional surveys, where people semi-consciously tick a string of boxes, ethnographic studies involve in-person interviews and the observation of users in their work settings. This provides us with an acute understanding of the motivations, pain points and the day-to-day nature of their work managing projects, programs and portfolios.

What we already knew

We knew going in that there was room for improvement. The 2015 Project Management Institute’s Pulse of the Profession report estimated that “on average 64% of all projects within organizations are successful.” That’s a nice way of saying that a third of all projects fail to meet expectations. Our main goal was to learn how we could help move the needle closer to the 100% mark.

So, what did we discover?

Among the key findings of the field study:

  1. PPM solutions are considered almost as enjoyable as filling out an IRS 1040-A tax form…in Latin.
  2. Project managers aren’t unlike marriage counselors—they are in the relationship business. And they have a desperate need for tools built to facilitate communication and strengthen relationships.
  3. While a lot of information can be gleaned from data, inaccuracies can make the data unreliable and incapable of delivering the valuable insight one would expect.


The CA vision for future PPM

The study showed us how CA can help organizations improve project success ratios by focusing innovation around the desired outcomes. Concentrating our development efforts on features that assist a majority of users in their jobs to be more productive is far more important than, for example, mimicking the features of competitive products.

Accordingly, we’ve re-evaluated our design methodology to deliver a user-driven solution that better reflects the goals and motivations of the entire team, helps to ensure project confidence, and removes the stress associated with the possibility of project failure.

We start by focusing on the people who use our software rather than underlying technologies or tasks. A tool built for convenience that acts as an intuitive extension of how work gets done gives project managers a single, easy way to connect with the teams they support, keeps projects on pace and provides stakeholders with the real-time information they need.

Next, we engage the team—not the timesheet. By moving beyond disconnected collaboration tools and timesheets, we can transform projects into experiences that more closely resemble modern consumer social apps, where teams connect and openly communicate, and project managers gain meticulous awareness of the overall state of the project.

Through the above, the system collects data that tells the whole story. When teams are engaged and entering accurate data inside a tool designed to capture insights at the right time, it can deliver valuable, actionable intelligence.

A CA PPM solution based on user experience and focused on the desired outcomes of the user will provide teams with streamlined simplicity, speed, ease-of-use and a single source of truth.

We invite you to learn more about our journey to make PPM truly convenient, collaborative and powerful.




Jeff Moloughney is senior director of Product Marketing at CA Technologies, leading the company’s IT…


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