For meeting its strategic objectives, a company has to move from a situation A to a situation B. To achieve this move, it uses Projects as vehicles for performing Changes.
As you know, vehicles have specific purposes and therefore different sizes, styles, performance, costs, lifespan and sometimes also priorities.
As you also know, vehicles sometimes don’t arrive in destination B as initially foreseen: some may get out of fuel, others may use unexpected directions, or take more time than planned for arriving to destination. In worst cases, they may get damaged or even collide each others.
Let’s see how Projects Portfolio Management can select the right mix of vehicles, control them and increase success for vehicles to arrive all at the desired place, time & cost and without bad surprises.
While Project Management (PM) has for main purpose to do the project right (drive correctly), Projects Portfolio Management (PPM) is about doing the right projects (identify, prioritize, authorize, manage and control the vehicles and their travels).
So first, before speaking of managing projects, PPM provides the solutions for managing demands.
Set up of a central governance, with roles & responsibilities, who can arbitrate on all initiatives, will allow the enterprise to identify scenarios, cluster demands, cancel some, identify others that may miss and grant budget to projects best meeting the enterprise’s goals.
To enable aggregation of expected costs, benefits, break even & return on investment, all demands are to be identified and documented the same way; typically the well known Business Case. That way, apples can be compared to apples (or vehicles to vehicles) and scenarios can be elaborated.
Obviously, sound enterprise PPM will not only focus on the generated or saved money; it will also target the best alignment with the corporate strategy: a well balanced projects’ portfolio. Prerequisite for doing this is to describe carefully the rationale of every demands and their nature (legal-risk mitigation-audit / cost saving / revenue increase / innovation-competitive advantage / …).
Wise combination of these quantitative & qualitative information offer the possibility to prioritize & rank demands in the Portfolio.
But what if all projects need the same resources at the same time ? PPM is also about avoiding bottlenecks and traffic jams!
Although enterprises are wanting to launch projects having the higher value, they have to assess their ability to deliver successfully. This can be tackled in aggregating estimation of the required resources (types & amount over time) of all demands and compare it to the availabilities & skills of IT resources. Tricky exercise, but very useful for large companies to foresee resources shortage and spread workload correctly over teams. Small companies may have better not doing this and rely upon their feeling: when forecasting, a good approximation is sometimes better than a false exactitude.
Now that vehicles are ready to take the road (demand phase: done), let’s see how PPM can support them for getting all to their destination!
Project implies uncertainty, while companies are looking for predictability. To address this, updated estimates of financial & workload information have to be confronted to initial ones. Some vehicles may need more fuel, others could have to be parked.
Next to this, allocations of resources per project (who will have to work on what, when and for how much) have to be updated & followed up, considering that resources are supposed to be working on the activities with the highest priority. This is how PPM controls the traffic.
PM best practices leveraged
Lastly, I should tell you how PPM can leverage the value of Project Management best practices. But actually we’ve not discussed about these PM best practices on the blog yet… maybe in a next article!
Nowadays, more and more challenges met by companies favor the adoption of PPM methodologies & tools, within their organizations.
Among those, companies’ race towards differentiation through Big Data solution adoption is a good example. Indeed, while companies do not struggle to launch Big Data initiatives at an individual level, achieving coherence at a global level in order to efficiently support their corporate strategies seems a lot more challenging.
If implemented properly, a PPM methodology will ensure that the undertaken Big Data initiatives will both create value at an individual level and, above all, support organizations’ strategies in a coherent way.