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A PM-first mindset: how project management methodology helps systems integrators save money

Implementing enterprise software is a complex challenge. Every day, Systems Integrators (SIs) are continuously juggling project deadlines and budgets across their portfolio while trying to set clients up for success with their new software as quickly and efficiently as possible.

But these projects frequently get delayed without warning, causing a mad scramble of exhausting overtime work to meet the deadline or an embarrassing apology email to the client (or both).

Executives and program managers are too often blindsided by these costly delays due to lack of visibility into an implementation's progress; even worse, most of these frustrating obstacles could often be avoided with proper planning and communication. These unforced errors are often a result of a fundamental weakness in the way that most SIs operate today and rooting out these delays requires a mindset shift across the organization.

To stop these systemic delays, SIs should utilize a PM-First mindset, orchestrating their implementations based on the project plan rather than simply resource scheduling.

The PM-First Mindset requires a fundamental change in how most SIs approach their business today. Most SIs use a resource-first approach, in which they will simply guesstimate how many hours of a given role type will be needed for the entire implementation, then make budget and go-live estimates based on those guesses. This lack of granularity in the underlying data means that implementation projects can start with wildly inaccurate assumptions about the time and money needed to properly implement a client's new piece of software.

These faulty assumptions are the weakness that causes the rampant delays and budget overruns that many SIs face. Garbage in, garbage out.

The PM-First Mindset flips this model

PM-First SIs put the project plan at the core of all organizational decision-making and create detailed, precise project schedules for every implementation to ensure successful outcomes. This high-quality schedule data provides a better indication of both current and future resource capacity; they leverage this data to make informed resource assignments and budget decisions.

From the very beginning of each implementation, the PM-First SI's team has an accurate understanding of how long they believe the project will take, how much it will cost—and they can communicate exactly how they reached those numbers. Because they have better data, they can collaborate with the client team more effectively throughout the project, communicating as many details as needed so the customer understands exactly what they're paying for.

Most importantly, they use automated risk detection technologies to find potential roadblocks and capacity bottlenecks before they arise to proactively mitigate these problems and prevent costly delays.

These cost savings magnify across every project in the implementation portfolio; the more widely this mindset is adopted, the bigger the benefit to the SI's bottom line. Quality in, quality out.

Running a systems integration company on the PM-First Mindset is not as simple as flipping a switch, as much of the technology used today doesn’t fully support it. SIs typically use Professional Services Automation (PSA) software platforms to run their businesses; unfortunately, most PSAs don't have project management capabilities that are powerful enough to run an organization this way.

Because of these limitations, SIs often use stand-alone project management software outside of their PSAs to run implementations; however, this forces their PMs to manage two different systems of record and leaves essential resource data completely separate from project data, limiting the ability to effectively forecast completion dates and budget estimates.

Through extensive product research, we've found at Moovila that with a project management-focused PSA, SIs can more effectively shift their organizational mindset, save money through increased efficiency, and differentiate from competitors in delivery quality.

But don’t just take our word for it. The 2021 Professional Services Maturity Benchmark from Service Performance Insight is the most comprehensive survey of SIs and other professional services organizations (PSOs) around the world, and their PSO Maturity Model identifies optimized project management practices as a key characteristic of high-performing PSOs.

Additionally, they found that the industry average for on-time project delivery is only 79.7%, while top-performing PSOs with robust project management practices deliver on-time for more than 91% of their projects.

Our industry research and product expertise has led us to believe that SIs who adopt a PM-First Mindset will vastly outperform those who cast project management to the wayside, in both delivery quality and cash flow. If you want to learn about how Moovila can help you implement a PM-First Mindset in your organization, feel free to schedule time. here.


Mike Psenka is the Founder & CEO of Moovila, a transformational work management & automation platform. Psenka previously built and sold a successful business intelligence and analytics platform to Equifax in 2011. He left Equifax in 2015 to found Moovila and tackle a new problem: digitally transforming work management. He holds a bachelors in Engineering from Princeton University and lives in Charleston, South Carolina with his wife and four kids who he states are significant upgrades from the beta version.



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