Everyone is striving for a portfolio world that plans, manages and reports the portfolio without double keying or double entry for delivery teams. What do we mean by ‘double entry’? Most people would say it means that they don’t want to key the same project information into two separate data sources and then maintain them both separately. Examples:
Familiar scenario? No-one likes the thought of double keying as outlined above but is it right, wrong……………or simply unavoidable?
Is it right or wrong to double key? No-one wants to double key, it is a duplication of effort (however small) and is inevitably frustrating. However, there are situations when it is clearly right or at least becomes necessary to do it:
Is double keying inevitable? After 25 years of being involved in portfolios, my conclusion is that some level of double keying becomes inevitable – it is simply too difficult to avoid it, in fact I would encourage it! ………… "But why?" I hear you say......because the fundamental structure of most PPM tools is that they are built from the bottom up, which means everyone in the portfolio has to input all the details correctly in the detail layer to roll up anything sensible at the Executive layer. There are two reasons that this is such a challenge:
With this in mind, I would encourage people to start thinking about it being necessary and valuable to separate the detail layer, where you focus on ‘running the project/programme’ (detailed plans with tasks and milestones particularly), from the Executive layer, where you focus on providing high level information and an Executive style which tends to be “let me know me in 20 seconds where we are and what I need to worry about………”. Generally, Execs don’t want the ‘faff’ of a detailed report:
So what are your options?
1. Minimise your double keying time: What you can do is minimise double keying and I believe it is realistic to target no more than 15 – 20 minutes of double keying effort every month.
2. Use engaging Executive reporting formats: if you are going to be double keying some info, make sure the information you are double keying is read! The output of the double keyed information should be visual, engaging and easily accessible to the Executive – if they are reading your information, you will derive value from it and the double keying is worthwhile:
In summary, some level of double keying is probably inevitable because of practical issues more than anything else. That might be a little frustrating, but there are ways to minimise double keying and if you are going to be double keying, at least make sure the output is accessible and in a format that Executives will engage with…..then it is more worth it!
by Rupert Taylor September 2018