Wide opened spaces; fresh northern climes; ABBA and reliable cars are just some of the things that come to mind when we think about Sweden.

Now we can add programme and project (PPM) to that list with Antura. In terms of PPM tool vendors in the marketplace today, Antura wasn’t a name I was familiar with.

They’re newcomers to the PMO Conference so here’s the basics you need to know about them:

  • Founded in Sweden in 2001, Antura supports organisations in selecting and delivering projects worth millions of pounds on time and on budget
  • They do this through their Antura Projects web-based software – a complete Project Portfolio and Resource Management (PPM) tool that now has more than 150,000 users in over 50 countries around the world
  • Antura is headquartered in Gothenburg in Sweden – with other offices including Stockholm in Sweden, Copenhagen in Denmark, and a new London office that opened earlier this year
  • They are passionate about PPM and PMO, and their tool incorporates everything a PMO could possibly want and is used in many different industry sectors
  • As such, they work with some of the largest companies in Scandinavia, from the regions busiest airports and other transport & infrastructure organisations, local and national government bodies, financial institutions, healthcare and many more
  • Antura has been recognised as a prosperous fast growing company in Scandinavia, including being named as a Gazelle Company in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 and being recognised as a “Super Company” also four years in a row

I caught up with Timothy Bull and Anders Haglund from Antura (respectively Sales & Marketing Manager UK & Ireland and Manager International Markets) to find out more about their view of the PPM tool marketplace and we were soon talking about living with the pain or rather how some organisations have chosen not to when it comes to tools and systems that support PPM activities.

Choosing Not to Live with the Pain

Many organisations that Antura work with are not newcomers to PPM tools, in fact many of them have already tried, tested and debunked PPM tools already. Of course this then becomes a tougher sell – not only for Antura but also for the PMO too – when an organisation returns to the marketplace. They bring with them the anti-tool baggage.

So how do PMOs overcome this?

Well, time is a great healer – PPM tools have changed, developed and matured since the early days of adoption. Now the focus is on user experience, simplicity in using the tool. Also tools that adapt with how the organisation changes over time and longevity, in terms of partnerships. No longer is it a case of implement the tool and leave the customer to it. Smart vendors know that organisational maturity takes time; processes change; some aspects of PPM become more important than others and of course the PMO is at the centre of that. PMOs need strategic partnerships with their vendors if they want to continue adding value.

Other requirements that organisations look for include;

  • Being able to integrate the PPM tool with other existing organisational systems.
  • Works well with existing governance approaches and project management frameworks.
  • Supports scalability and multi-site, multi country integration.
  • Price versus the performance
  • Something that covers the whole enterprise offering from portfolio, through to programme and projects plus current hot PMO areas like resource management, benefits management and what-if scenarios.

antura-logo-250The key for PMOs is gaining the management buy in based on what PPM tools are able to do today and that means a robust business case as well as skills in influence and persuasion.


The Areas Where PMO Adds Value

It’s no coincidence that robust enterprise PPM tools like Antura feature all the same areas that the PMO is tasked with adding value to their organisation.

From the bread and butter Gantt chart project plan functionality, through to portfolio management and resource management. You can take a look at the full areas it covers.

If the PMO that adds value is defined as one ‘that provides both the current status and insights/ recommendation for key decision makers based on accurate data’, that means the PMO has to get to grips with the very thing that provides the foundation to the value added role – the data.

Antura also reiterated the common theme we seem to see time and time again with PMOs – the over reliance on Excel spreadsheets. Timothy puts it well when talking about fit-for-purpose:

If I’m painting a ceiling, I’d want to use a tool like a paint roller as it is designed for the job; if I wanted to paint a watercolour picture, I wouldn’t use a paint roller, I’d use a watercolour paint brush instead.”

I’d go a little way further and say, the PMO needs to be in the studio with access to all the different tools and brushes that enable them to support canvases, large and small. Just think how much better the picture would be if the PMO has the tools of the trade rather than being restricted to the paint roller.

It seems to me that the PMO which exists today without access to the PPM tools it needs to do the job that organisations are increasingly demanding of them really will be sending out a S.O.S (ABBA, 1975) in the next few years.

Find out how passionate Timothy and Anders are about helping your PMO and your organisation, have a chat with them about what their current clients get out of the Antura solution. Meet them at Stand 8 at the PMO Conference on the 8th June 2016.