Colleague Post :
Project portfolio management (PPM) is a change agent designed to change the project management practices of an organization, and like Needs (2013) observed “it will meet with some degree of resistance primarily because of the level of transparency and exposure it will bring to the people, projects and processes within the business.” Because human nature abhors change, skepticism and fear of the unknown could attract the following types of resistance to the PPM initiative: company culture and in-house politics; failure to identify and tackle resistances from individuals within the organization; senior management’s reluctance to ‘buy in’ to the purpose, benefits and value PPM brings to the business; the likely disruptions and changes it brings plus the investment needed for its successful implementation is a major hurdle to cross. Lastly, the ‘Big Brother Syndrome’ will meet with resistance as the ‘boys’ may not submit easily to the close monitoring occasioned by the drive for increased productivity and effective utilization of resources.
According to Whitt (2012) “the steps that are critical to consider in managing multiple elements in a portfolio are: Selection, prioritization, kick-off, management, reporting, and communication.” The organization first “selects and approves” which projects fit into the portfolio tailored to achieve a specific business objective. Once selected, projects/programs within the portfolio must be “prioritized” to suit decisions, budgets and resources. As soon as the first two steps are accomplished, the “execution” of projects/programs selected and prioritized begins which are then managed and tracked. The next step is to closely “manage” time, cost, scope and resources of the projects/programs to ensure they stay on course. A decision is required on the nature of “reporting”, for whom and of what detail, and the reports prepared should contain information on what is measured, tracked or reported in the course of projects execution. As priorities of the portfolio change, it is necessary to communicate to everyone about the health and wealth of the portfolio to ensure that the portfolio meets the specific business objective it was designed to achieve. It’s necessary to stay balanced, to expect that things will go off balance occasionally, and to manage and track the portfolio steadily.
Christina (2013) presents five benefits an organization will reap from implementing PPM, insisting that PPM users can access real-time data giving them sufficient insight to get the job done and real-time collaboration leads to increased productivity. And that since PPM is critical for project selection or cancellation, project leaders are better positioned to make the right decisions for the most profitable portfolio thus cutting losses. Thirdly, PPM processes guarantee faster project turn times by giving businesses a head-start on their competition. Fourthly, PPM enables more accurate project estimates and the use of the right resources on the right work and at the right time thus cutting overspending – a common feature in fragmented project management (PM). Lastly, PPM provides the functionality with which organizations accurately plan their projects based on resource capacity, strategic alignment of projects and better estimating, leading to more successful projects that increase value to the business.
The first barrier to implementing PPM in my organization is the conflicts over resources required to fund projects from the pool of projects forwarded from different departments. The process of selecting projects which will have the highest priority vis-à-vis the greatest impact on the organizational strategy and objectives is sometimes a source of challenge. The other is the conflict that comes with deciding who has the responsibility for authorizing projects. Project initiation often leads to over-commitment of resources because it is done at every level of management and the struggle for funding of projects creates needles departmental war over lean resources. Sometimes our projects are haphazardly prioritized based on low-level managerial priorities instead of high-level priorities and some projects are not completed on the basis of their contribution to the overall organization but on the basis of a manager’s priorities or functional department’s priorities or even due to a project manager’s coercive skills. These practices erode the very principles that gave birth to the PPM approach.
Christina (2013). Gain competitive advantage: 5 benefits of PPM [Online]. Available at: http://epmlive.com/portfolio-management/gain-a-competitive-advantage-5-benefits-of-project-portfolio.management-ppm/ (Accessed on 21st Nov 2013).
Needs, I. (2013). 5 common portfolio management adoption hurdles and how to avoid them [Online]. Available at:http://blog.keyedin.com/5-common-project-portfolio-management-adoption-hurdles-and-how-to-avoid-them/ (Accessed on 21st Nov 2013).
Whitt, J. (2012). Eight key steps towards Portfolio Management [Online]; Available at: http://www.pmhut.com/eight-key-steps-toward-portfolio-management (Accessed on 21st Nov 2013).