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Project Portfolio Management

How to Rescue PM Teams from Silo Hell

Published By Team Clarizen

No Project is an Island

Every project is a new adventure into potentially unknown territory, where people may not (literally and figuratively) speak the same language, wear the same clothes, or view their business world through the same data lens (literally!). Culturally siloed groups may be the result of regional locations, functional issues, historical norms, acquisitions, and even how one organization is rewarded differently for performance.

When it comes to running a well-oiled business change project (is there such a thing?) cultural differences are one challenge, but disparity and incompatibility of data represents another level of pain. Commonly referred to as data silos, isolated caches of data that may be unique to particular business units or functional business areas and must somehow be integrated into the business project at hand are a very common problem for PMs and their teams.

According to a 2019 study of technology marketers by the UK-based semiconductor firm, Arm Ltd., more than half of those surveyed (54%) said that the biggest barrier to leveraging their data is fragmented or siloed data, making it difficult to get an accurate, integrated view of the customer journey.

Silos – How They Happen, How Do We End Them

Data is threatening to overwhelm many organizations. According to a study commissioned by Teradata, an enterprise software firm that specializes in database analytics, business leaders believe that digitization can help address growing customer expectations. A full 99% of respondents from the U.S., UK, France, Germany, China and Japan say they are in the process of either moving to a digital business or leveraging/piloting digital technologies to change their business model.

While 99% sounds impressive, the study also revealed that just 10% confirmed they had fully realized widespread digitization, with nearly half of respondents noting they believe their businesses need improvement in managing data accessibility, including breaking down many data silos in order to become digitally pervasive.

Here’s a look at some of the ways in which data silos impeded PM progress and some ideas about how to overcome data disconnect:

  • A lack of visibility among groups and departments prevents the PM team from developing a position of strength and authority. Greater openness is needed.
  • Software tools are unlikely to fully overcome the issue, but they can definitely help. The disconnect could possibly be solved by means of a ‘community of practice’ (CoP). A CoP, according to the PMI, refers to the ways in which people naturally work together and celebrate the power of informal communities of peers. The dream is to establish a CoP support system to enable PMs at all levels to efficiently and effectively manage program activities and provide opportunities to share expertise, collaborate in problem solving, and promote continuous learning.
  • It is common for PM teams to have low visibility into what other teams are doing—for instance, it is not unusual for an IT team to not know much about the detailed workings of the business.
  • Regional silos are common among global firms. It is difficult to optimize resources when working in regionally disparate silos where each location looks out for its own affairs exclusively.
  • Finally, one way to stimulate greater collaboration among business units or departments and enable greater appreciation for the overall business would be to institute a program of job shadowing. This is one way to potentially build cross-departmental relationships and understanding, provide a more flexible workforce, and make it easier to form new, diverse teams as needed by future projects.

Busting the Data Divide

While much of the information we have provided so far has related to cultural and organizational silos, the challenge of bridging or breaking data silos is the 800-pound gorilla here. Fortunately, many/most Clarizen users are aware of the many ways in which the solution can help break through multiple levels of disconnects, both data and cultural.

Clarizen’s built-in collaboration tools help align everyone on how their work supports the company’s goals, ensures employees are working on the right things and operating efficiently, and provides the visibility and real-time information required to quickly adapt and realign resources and priorities.

When it comes to data integration, Clarizen has that covered as well. Clarizen is ready from the start to integrate data from a variety of sources, including iHub Integration Platform, Gainsight, ServiceNow, Salesforce, Project, SAP, Ziflow, JIRA, Box, Oracle, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Sharepoint, Google Drive, Netsuite, Tableau and others.

Clarizen Data Loader is a web-based tool that does not required installation. It can be launched from within Clarizen so that no login is required. A few simple steps are all that are needed to obtain the data you need.

Increase your business agility with Clarizen’s project management software

For the more adventurous, Clarizen provides programmatic access to your organization information using a simple and powerful REST API. Using the Clarizen REST API you are able to develop various types of applications, such as:

  • Custom applications: create custom applications to gain additional benefits for your organization using business data located in the Clarizen repository. Provide your employees with specific and familiar User Interface for specific organizational processes
  • Integration with Desktop tools: create integration with desktop authoring tools to bring task management closer to the employee’s desktop
  • Integration with legacy systems: create integration with your internal data management systems to exchange relevant data and perform on the fly integration

Break through the cultural and technological barriers that pose a challenge to so many critical projects. Clarizen provides the tools you need to succeed at every level.

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Written by Team Clarizen