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Customer Success, Project Portfolio Management

How Akamai Uses IT Portfolio Management Software to Empower Executives

3 best practices for improving executive decision making in your organization

Published By Brandon Harville
IT portfolio management software

IT portfolio management software is known for helping PMOs evaluate and track multiple active projects. But it can also be used to effortlessly provide executives with high-level, global data that enhances their strategic decision-making process.

Take Akamai Technologies as an example. They’re a leading content delivery network services provider for media and software.

Akamai implemented Planview’s Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solution in 2020 to infuse system-driven checks and guidelines into their established IT project management process.

Akamai used Planview as “the single source of truth for IT project data, the place our team members and executives go when they need information about a project.”

Kirsten Laaspere, Head of Strategic Governance & Communication at Akamai

Kirsten Laaspere serves as Akamai’s Planview Admin and is also the business owner for more than 100 IT projects annually. She acts as a deeply embedded strategic partner to the CIO, CSO, and IT Leadership Team.

Laaspere’s experience with hands-on project management, as well as her understanding of executive needs, gave her a unique perspective when using IT portfolio management software. She used Planview’s solution in a way that met the needs of IT while also empowering executive leadership.

Using Planview’s solution to provide actionable data for executives can be achievable for almost any organization. Let’s look at how she did it by following three best practices.

1. Curate Data to Support Executive Needs and Goals

Making IT portfolio management software work well requires thinking about the needs of each specific type of user. To best serve executives, Laaspere needed to understand their specific needs and goals. And those needs are usually defined by the people executives are accountable to –– such as other executives, board members, and stakeholders.

To meet executives’ needs for information, Laaspere focused on three categories:

  • Amplification: What is going right and how can we prove it?
  • Awareness: What is going wrong and what are we going to do to fix it?
  • Action: Where can the executive step in to support?

Then, she provided purposeful, concise information for each of those categories.

“Executives have a million things going on, and they need to know the highlights and the lowlights –– they need the headlines.”

Kirsten Laaspere, Head of Strategic Governance & Communication at Akamai

Through adept use of IT portfolio management software, Laaspere and her team made it easy to meet the information needs of Akamai executives. The next step was helping leadership broadcast their wins.

2. Tell Company Success Stories with Context

Executives love to share success stories, but they need data to back those stories up.

Laaspere helped executives demonstrate business value to peers, higher-level leaders, and board members. She did it by making it easy for executives to tell a contextual data story.

Laaspere achieved this by:

  • Identifying success measures and sharing them with the PMO.
  • Training the PMO to identify and constantly refine those success measures.
  • Promoting company highlights with clear storytelling and data-driven support.

A success measure might be something like reducing “time to complete” from six hours to two hours, thus saving the organization 300+ hours per year –– or the equivalent of saving $7,500 annually.

In addition, she made sure Akamai’s IT Portfolio management software documented the method of each success measure. This gives executives a full, contextual picture of the company’s success stories— making it easy for them to share those wins with others.

3. Create Awareness around Risks and Gaps

Laaspere didn’t just help executives broadcast company success stories. She also helped them with their mitigation plans by creating more awareness around potential risks and gaps.

Using Planview, Laaspere kept executive leadership in the loop by setting up portfolio views specifically for them. She did this by:

  • Using clear naming conventions so executives can easily find what they’re looking for.
  • Delivering data in the format executives are comfortable with.

For Akamai, that format was color-coded status triggers because the executives already know to pay special attention to yellow and red items.

“Meet the executive where they live. If they work in Google Docs, build them simple, visual one-pagers there. If they live in email, send them an email with a clear title that they can find again easily.”

Kirsten Laaspere, Head of Strategic Governance & Communication at Akamai

Laaspere created executive one-pagers in Google Docs to help Akamai executives effectively use their IT Portfolio management software. These documents:

  • Focused on three or four key pieces of information.
  • Included annotated visuals for more clarity.  
  • Contained as many direct links as possible.

The key to creating this type of awareness is keeping it simple. Don’t overload executives with too much information.

These one-pagers offer easy instructions and reminders that help executives understand exactly what’s happening with their various projects. This is important because it allows leadership to identify the actions they can take to keep things moving in the right direction.

Better Data Empowers Executive Leadership

Empowering executives with your IT portfolio management software simply requires four steps:

  1. Understand executive needs for information.
  2. Curate executive data, make it easier to access, and deliver data in a way that works best for the executive.
  3. Train project managers to set meaningful success measures and configure the software to track and report those measures.
  4. Train data owners on how to identify which information is high priority, and how to ensure data is accurate and up to date.

Akamai’s intuitive use of Planview’s solution as their IT Portfolio management software has saved executives’ time. It has also boosted their confidence in sharing project successes and understanding potential challenges.

Register for an on-demand demo today to see how partnering with Planview can empower your organization.

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Written by Brandon Harville

Brandon is a content strategist at Planview. Before coming aboard, he spent 5 years writing about Agile project management. He truly believes that core values like empathy, communication, and learning from mistakes make Agile more than just a business philosophy--they make Agile principles a life skill.