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True project management starts with transparency. If you’re not set up to see what’s happening throughout each stage of a project, then you’re at a disadvantage from day one. This is just one reason why being able to look at real-time and integrated project information is so important. The lesson is simple: embrace technology and you can quickly get ahead of the competition.

Without it, companies often struggle to identify the best places to assign resources to the right projects. It’s always a challenge to work out the expected value of a project or a new product development, its risks and whether you have the right people and skillsets. The project portfolio manager needs to rank different proposals against one another to decide which makes the best investment – and which best fits their corporate strategy.

The trouble is, many companies still run their projects using off-line tools via their desktop. This makes comprehensive reporting a laborious, time-consuming affair. You have to go to individual desktops and ask each individual to send in reports on how they are getting on. Automating and integrating that process can be a real boon – especially when it comes to reporting project efforts, actual costs and material consumptions. To put it simply, it helps you to spot if a project will succeed or fail.

The advantages of this sort of integration go beyond simple reporting. At SAP, we see customers use our integrated project management platform to track their overall costs and efforts in R&D. Being able to effectively report spending on R&D automatically qualifies them for a tax refund at the end of the year – an ROI that is hard to beat. And if you take into account that today’s projects are often a global business then it gets clear that only a central portfolio management tool can help you pick the right project proposals on a global level.

As globalization increases, project-driven companies increasingly find that their assets and resources cross more than one region. One of our customers from the automotive industry, for example, has 6,000 employees in R&D, spread across 50 locations around the world. To gauge the potential of a new product, they need to involve development, marketing, product and sales experts from each of these locations – but their involvement and the information available to them needs to be scalable.

In many organizations, project management experts and business users share the same user interface, overwhelming the casual user with unnecessary complexity. What they need though, is an alternate interface that offers them project information with the appropriate level of granularity – even while they are on the road or at the customer site. To keep these users engaged in your projects, you not only need to provide to them the right project management capabilities, but also the right way to access and consume project information.

There are three advantages any company needing to stand out in an innovation-driven sector can take:

1. Use a real-time project management process that is closely integrated with your Enterprise Resource Planning world to automate processes and gain transparency
2. Manage your portfolio of projects to identify the best opportunities for your company; reduce costs by stopping the projects that fall behind expectations
3. Enable a solution that allows collaboration across organizational boundaries, meeting the requirements of a truly global enterprise

To learn more about we can help you with your business challenges please have a look at SAP’s Solution Explorer for the LoB of R&D/Engineering.

What do you think about the issues discussed here? Continue the conversation in the comments below and on Twitter @PLMatSAP.

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