How Hummingbird is helping Australian businesses
thrive through a downturn

In the last two decades Australia has weathered recession conditions better than most. But every dip in the global economy plays out differently and businesses need to be prepared for leaner times as inflation remains high and profits are squeezed. Making decisions based on what’s actually happening in a business is one of the best ways to secure its future. Now is the time for Australian businesses to look to their strategy and data to inform decisions and this is where a robust Project Portfolio Management capability can make all the difference.

Todd Whaley – CEO

On a global level, our post-COVID economy is presenting businesses with tough challenges. Inflation is fuelling higher supply and labour costs and the policy response from central banks is increasing the cost of borrowing. All businesses are settling into new ways of working following COVID. SMEs in particular are still adjusting to altered consumer habits, employee expectations and a significant shift in how they source products and deliver services.

While this hasn’t slowed growth – the latest SME Sentiment Tracker report from ACA Research shows 24% of SMEs generated higher revenues in Q4 2022 than before the pandemic – SMEs are bracing for more difficult conditions. One third (34%) of SMEs do not think they are well positioned to withstand a recession and only 30% are focusing on growth compared to 41% reported in October 2022. The NAB Quarterly SME survey echoes this sentiment, with business confidence falling nine points into negative territory (-4 points) from Q3 to Q4 2022.

Investments in technology support growth

In spite of this gloomy outlook, SMEs at every stage of growth have more opportunities than ever to leverage new technology for efficiency and competitive advantage. This is even more the case following the boom in digital activity triggered by the pandemic. A Small Business Insights report from Xero, based on pre-COVID data, showed that businesses adopting and investing in technology were 68% more likely to see growth. And yet the same survey showed only 1% of small businesses were investing their turnover into technology.

“At a time when many businesses are considering de-prioritising technology projects as they deal with the more immediate threats of cashflow, cost management and business survival, those that do invest are more likely to set themselves up for future success.”

6 strategies for SME survival, Australian Institute of Company Directors, August 2020

Making smarter, faster decisions

Given the current squeeze on borrowing and cashflows, SMEs are having to ration investments in technology even more carefully. At the same time, their very survival can depend on seizing opportunities for growth that remain on the table – even in a downturn – for small, nimble organisations that can respond quickly to customer needs and the competitive landscape. In this context, making the best decisions on project investments is even more important. The right data, tools and processes for selecting, planning and executing programs of work to achieve strategic goals are invaluable in guiding these mission-critical choices.

This is why Project Portfolio Management (PPM) is gaining traction in all sorts of organisations, globally and here in Australia. With a fit-for-purpose, fully integrated PPM platform, SMEs can access the tools and data they need to make strategically informed decisions on standing up and prioritising projects. In taking their cues from timely and accurate inputs, decision makers can be more certain that the time, budget and resources they’re allocating will deliver the expected outcomes for growth, profits and – ultimately – business success.

SMEs are the engine of our economy.

Empowering businesses to transform themselves from Good to Great is the reason why Hummingbird exists. As experts in the PPM space – for platform technology and all aspects of effective Project Management capabilities – it’s our goal to connect Australian businesses with the tools, skills, frameworks, and practices that will enable them to maximise the value of every dollar and minute spent on technology and business investments. This is how we, as an SME, aim to achieve our vision of supporting a thriving business community in Australia, no matter how challenging the current environment may be.

SMEs are the powerhouse of our global economy. In high-income economies like Australia, they account for more than 60% of private sector employment and 50% of private sector GDP . As a force for innovation and transformation, they have unbounded potential. Until now, the cost and complexity of PPM platforms, the skills to implement and embed PPM processes and the uplift in training required have kept this capability out of reach for many SMEs.

A right-sized PPM solution for SMEs

These barriers to realising the benefits of PPM have led us to create a new service for SMEs, so they don’t get left behind on the Good to Great journey our products and services are designed for. Our Bureau Portfolio Service builds on the same expertise, support and technology we offer to enterprise clients, but delivered via a model that’s right sized for SMEs. It’s a service delivered for a cost competitive price, optimised for swift time to market (between four and eight weeks) and provided with the enterprise functionality and scale needed to support solution longevity and business growth.

The new service bundles a world-leading enterprise PPM platform Planview Portfolio Solutions – ranked no. 1 by Gartner – with our expertise in integration, training, administration and support. Each SME client has their own tenant within the platform, keeping their data secure and segregated. It’s a cost-effective simplified service, designed to enable SMEs to rapidly adopt advanced technology and embed best practice in their business. With access to our expertise in project management, data, integration and business analysis, smaller businesses can fast-track their PPM capability without adding to headcount.

Predictable cost and a scalable solution

As a team of dedicated experts with extensive years in project management, we have a strong grasp of the value businesses of any size can realise from a best-in-class PPM platform like Planview Portfolio Solutions. But SMEs will likely struggle to make a business case for investing in an enterprise-level solution – and the internal resources that go with it – when their business is less mature, in both size and operating model.

We’ve addressed this by striking a balance between standard configuration and customisation for Bureau Portfolio Service clients. While the platform is pre-configured using best practice methodology in Prince2 and P3O/P3RM, our business, technology, project, and data experts can tailor the platform implementation to each SME’s specific business requirements and operations. This approach delivers a solution right sized for an SME now, and as it grows, with functions that can be switched off or on to suit current operations and future state.

While this might sound complex, and expensive, we deliver our Bureau Portfolio Service for a monthly fee that takes care of platform enablement and integration and continuous service improvements, including administration and maintenance, platform upgrades, client specific dashboards and reports and more. Together with an annual per user license fee for the Planview Portfolio Solutions platform, SMEs can swiftly stand-up a best-practice PPM capability that’s fine-tuned for their business, for a known cost. And with access to a PPM toolkit that can expand to fit changing needs – in planned phases or on demand – there’s little to no risk of technical debt from outgrowing the platform.

When every dollar – and minute – counts

The monthly service fee also includes ongoing support, training and customer care which is our way of sharing our knowledge and expertise to ensure clients will maximise the value of their PPM adoption journey at every stage. With an expected four-week turnaround from enablement to starting to use the Bureau Portfolios platform, we provide a training platform for users at the same time so your team can be ready to make the most of key features and workflows from day one. We also provide personalised guidance and advice on making the best use of the platform and adopting functionality at a pace that suits each business. Extra role-based training is also included in the service, enabling users to upskill over time as the business matures its PPM capability.

Businesses of every size need reliable, timely data to thrive and grow. Without it, they will struggle to secure the best outcomes from projects and prioritise programs of work to maximise value and meet strategic goals. By giving SMEs access to the tools, they need to make strategically informed decisions on standing up and prioritising projects, we look forward to seeing more of them directing resources towards endeavours that will position them for success in a challenging environment.