Most companies today, whether large or small, product/manufacturing or service-based, herald their workforce as their most valuable resource. Companies in vertical industries with a high concentration of knowledge workers sound this sentiment even more strongly. Yet there is little evidence that those companies employ technology and software tools that match the stated importance of their workforces.
AtTask commissioned Forrester to evaluate the benefits of incorporating social networking-like peer collaboration processes in project portfolio management (PPM) software and methodology. An in-depth survey was conducted with 150 knowledge workers (non managerial workers who use info/data in daily tasks) and managers. Forrester found that companies strongly identify with the potential value and benefits that could be derived from infusing social networking techniques - involving self-governance, peer collaboration, and qualitative work activity information capture - into PPM.
However, perhaps worryingly, Forrester also found that most companies have no idea what investment their workforce is yielding or how to fully exploit the knowledge worker potential in relation to innovation in new products, new markets, and new business models. 37 percent of managers and 63 percent of knowledge workers disagreed with the statement "our organisation tracks ROI on knowledge worker investments."
The survey showed that most companies employ misaligned tools and/or manual processes in an attempt to harvest their knowledge worker investment. Ironically, the vast majority of companies employ little more than spreadsheet technology to support and manage what they identify as their "most valuable resource". Even worse, many companies employ no specific software technology at all, depending on meetings and email to assign and monitor work activities.
Almost one-quarter of managers and 40 percent of knowledge workers feel that management does not have a clear understanding of how their knowledge workers' activities are contributing toward their companies' business objectives. Two-thirds of managers and three-quarters of knowledge workers believe that missing and inaccurate information about knowledge workers' activities is a significant contributor to financial waste in their organisation.
PPM, simplified and supported with social networking techniques, has the potential to facilitate improved participation, organisational transparency, and broader appeal and adoption. Social networking has proven to be a catalyst for personal (consumer) collaboration and qualitative information sharing. Most management tools today are designed for the executive or project manager role but do little to fuel participation at the knowledge worker level.
Knowledge workers and managers alike recognise the potential value in adding peer-to-peer social collaboration and qualitative information transparency to PPM to promote adoption, higher utilisation and better information quality - it's time businesses aligned their IT with their most valuable resource.