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December 21, 2022

A single source of truth in project management

Hybrid Management Portfolio-level Management Project Management
Jerzy Żurawiecki Content Specialist @BigPicture

Information is power. But when it’s scattered around various tools in the organization, it’s prone to getting lost. Some businesses keep all data in one place to make sure it doesn’t happen. There is a term for such an approach: a single source of truth (SSoT).

Maintaining an informational command center is particularly important in project and portfolio management. No matter where you are in the digital transformation process, an SSoT will help you keep control of the various moving parts across initiatives.

Read the article to get to know the concept of the single source of truth a little better. Find out what it is and how it can help your organization, especially in project management.

What is a single source of truth?

As the name suggests, a single source of truth entails gathering data from multiple sources in one location. It’s important to note that SSoT is a mindset. Of course, it manifests using one tool as a source of information. But it’s all about building the proper structure, forming habits, and consistently applying appropriate practices.

The application of SSoT is the answer to some of the most common problems in complex organizations. For instance, departments often store information separately. This siloed approach hinders the exchange of knowledge between teams.

Another example is the selection of data sources. Different teams get their information from separate, often conflicting, places. As a result, no one is sure who is correct. This uncertainty invites chaos and slows down the work.

Implementing a single source of information eliminates these roadblocks. In fact, it does a lot more than that.

Benefits of a single source of truth

Generally speaking, a successful application of an SSoT helps organizations keep track of all internal information. However, there are a lot of other perks attached to it. Here is a short list of the most impactful benefits of a single source of truth in an organization.

Benefits of a single source of truth.

Now, let’s take a closer look at how SSoT works in the world of projects, programs, and portfolios.

Single source of truth in project portfolio management

Even in a standalone project, managers track multiple variables. There’s the scope, and those responsible for each task, scheduling, availability of people, risks – the list goes on. Staying on top of all these areas using dispersed tools is complex and inefficient. But organizations don’t operate on standalone initiatives. Projects are part of complex portfolios. 

A single source of truth helps ensure all projects and programs run smoothly and in sync. After all, every piece of information is cataloged in one tool. Combining it with aggregation allows portfolio managers to get insights and make decisions faster.

SSoT also improves cooperation with executives. Any time they wish to check on the progress of the portfolio as a whole, they can simply open a PPM tool and look at data summarizing all initiatives.

A single source of truth in project management has to accommodate Classic, Agile, and Hybrid approaches. The reason is, organizations apply various project management methodologies across departments and teams.

There are fundamental differences between how Agile and non-Agile teams work on projects. Both approaches utilize methodology-specific structures and practices to ensure the timely production of deliverables. The SSoT’s job is to gather, aggregate, and present the data in a way that fits in the grand scheme of the portfolio.

Make BigPicture the single source of truth for your portfolio

Having the right mindset regarding centralizing project data is invaluable. But in practical terms, all your information is stored in PPM software. As such, it should meet certain criteria to earn the single source of truth moniker.

If your teams manage work in Jira or Trello, one portfolio project management software has everything you need to centralize all project-related information: BigPicture. Here are the most important aspects of our PPM software that make it the SSoT of choice for complex and demanding organizations.

Two-way synchronization with Jira and Trello

One of the main strengths of our tool is how closely it works with Atlassian tools. Let’s say you manage a project in BigPicture, and one of the team members modifies a Jira task that belongs to this project. As soon as that happens, the changes are reflected in BigPicture. It means everyone has access to the most up-to-date information at all times.

The synchronization also works the other way around. Any time you reassign a task in BigPicture or make any other changes, they are saved in the corresponding Jira task. In turn, the people involved in the task get notified, and everyone is on the same page.

You can connect multiple Jira Cloud instances and gather data from all of them in BigPicture. As a result, getting a complete overview of information is much easier when teams have their own instances.

Furthermore, BigPicture allows you to look beyond the project level. The synchronization also applies to programs and portfolios.

All project or portfolio elements in one place

The “single” part of SSoT implies that one tool contains all the data. In the case of project management, you can use BigPicture to combine information from Jira and Trello or multiple instances of these tools. But that’s just the start.

Aside from having all your eggs in one basket, BigPicture allows you to create structures such as portfolios or programs. They will serve as an organized hierarchy where you will see where each element of the portfolio fits into the whole portfolio puzzle.

Speaking of portfolios, if you want to see the entire structure of initiatives in a single place, BigPicture makes that possible.

A screenshot of BigPicture's Overview module
See the entire range of initiatives of your portfolio in one place with BigPicture.

You can easily create a portfolio of programs and projects. Once you do that, you’ll have all the information flowing into a single command center. Getting to a specific project or task will take no time at all.

Data aggregation

Simply gathering information is not enough to make good use of it. Having lots of data points won’t be beneficial if there is no way to organize them. That’s why aggregation is so vital.

There are so many types of information managers use to evaluate project progress and performance. Deadlines, costs, and task progress are just a few that project managers track regularly.

BigPicture summarizes all project-related fields, allowing managers and executives to gain insights based on the aggregated data quickly.

Support of Classic, Agile, and Hybrid approaches

For a single source of truth to be fully functional, it shouldn’t matter whether teams work in Classic, Agile, or Hybrid approaches. BigPicture supports all three of them with a wide range of tools.

Managers overseeing Classic initiatives will make use of the Gantt module. It lets them build a detailed Work Breakdown Structure and keep track of all the phases, tasks, and resources on a comprehensive Gantt chart.

A screenshot of BigPicture's Gantt module.
Our Gantt module lets you easily track a Classic project in its entirety.

Their Agile counterparts have a timeboxed Board module at their disposal. It allows Scrum teams to plan Sprints easier, especially with the display of allocation compared to the available capacity of the Developers as well as visualized dependencies. Additionally, a backlog panel shows items that are yet to be included in upcoming Sprints.

A screenshot of BigPicture's Board module.
Use the Board module with a backlog to manage Agile projects.

As for Hybrid projects, you can utilize both Classic and Agile-friendly modules, such as Gantt or Board. Additionally, to ensure the teams focus on the right goals, there is an Objectives module that will help track the progress of key aims of the project.

A screenshot of BigPicture's Objectives module.
Track objectives of Hybrid initiatives with ease with BigPicture.

Data is updated across modules, so no matter which one you use, the information in BigPicture is cohesive and up-to-date.

Lastly, using BigPicture doesn’t interfere with any internal processes of an organization. Teams can continue managing their work in Jira, and our tool will help managers categorize and visualize all of the project and portfolio information. That way, the flow of work remains unchanged, but making decisions, spotting problems, and keeping track of progress becomes easier.

All in all, a single source of truth can help organizations in many ways. Firstly, it’s a centralized repository of all relevant data. Secondly, it provides the right people with access to up-to-date information. Proper implementation of SSoT is a great step towards more efficient work. When all you need to know is in one place, everyone wins.