Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solutions are designed to help project and portfolio leaders better track and measure the impact of their project investments. Project Portfolio Management can help you bring more value to the organization starting with identifying the most valuable initiatives and realizing the promised benefits. Without a solid portfolio management framework, it is difficult to align the right skills to the right projects and plan based on true capacity. These fundamental challenges provide the framework for a portfolio management solution, but there are ways to get value beyond what you are prioritizing and investing in, just by utilizing your PPM solution to a further extent.
Prioritization of Projects and Team Work
Many organizations have a system for prioritizing all the projects and requests that come to them – this can be anything from first in, first out where projects are prioritized based on time; or maybe things are mainly by executive order, this also includes those non-executives that just seem to be very persuasive; then there is a rudimentary high, medium, low option (or some variation of that); and finally if you have a sophisticated method, value-based scoring with weighting given to specific criteria that is more important, you can consider yourself among the elite in project prioritization.
Regardless of how you are currently prioritizing projects, if you want to get a little bit better, Project Portfolio Management can help you with that. Without proper prioritization in place, you end up taking on too much and invest in projects only to abandon them later. With centralized visibility into project requirements, a platform to communicate and analyze the impact of changes, and the means to measure what the actual utilization is at any given time allows portfolio leaders to make better decisions about projects.
The second half of prioritizing projects is to compare that against talent needed to complete those projects. You may just look at what is required in the skills log or what comes through. But you might not be prioritizing teamwork the best you can for the projects you are investing in. There is a lot you can do to prioritize and improve the impact of team members by assigning them to the right projects and increase your chance of success.
The benefit of portfolio analysis really depends on your portfolio management maturity. It can fall anywhere between none at all, just getting started, and highly sophisticated or advanced portfolio management with a high degree of risk assessment and change tolerance. A quick and easy way to benchmark where you can be:
● Beginner: You operate on an annual planning model, decisions are usually made centrally by a steering committee, and progress of the portfolio is measured by cost and schedule reviewed quarterly or semiannually.
● Intermediate: You have strategic programs that have continuous planning and iterative releases or updates with guidance from executives but for this one your portfolio measures are a mixture of cost and value-based measures.
● Advanced: You perform continuous, outcome-based portfolio planning, conduct portfolio reviews on a consistent cadence, and have performance measures that are value-driven with both efficiency and effectiveness measures.
Managing projects and initiatives at the portfolio level enables you to stay aligned with the strategic direction and, in turn, deliver more business value since you are executing projects that have an impact on the business. Once you have the information to understand what needs to be taken on, how much of that is maintenance projects vs. strategic initiatives, and how that compares with your capacity, portfolio analysis gives you a reality check.
Since you don’t have an unlimited pool of talent and budget, you likely don’t want to invest in projects that really shouldn’t have been taken on in the first place. If there was a better way to curb project abandonment and wasting your people on something that will never cross the finish line, you are in a much better position to contribute value to the organization. Taking a look at portfolio analysis, we try to mitigate some of these common issues and provide information which keeps data updated and provides a single source of truth for everyone. Then look to communication to ensure everyone is aligned to what is being taken on and updates are communicated. Tracking utilization allows you to understand the true capacity for work and make effective decisions based on real-time data.
Iteration & Improvement
When we talk about iteration and improvement, we are really honing in on the improvement side of this. Do it again and make it better. As the portfolio progresses, you move through the phases of intake, prioritization, resourcing, performance management, measure and optimize and again back to intake. This creates a theme for taking on the work that is high priority, aligning the team for that work and keeping it on track before figuring out a way to make it better again.
Leveraging PPM to provide a centralized information source to capture all project data help you identify red flags early and often. You are then able to remain agile, make changes as needed and proactively communicate those changes to the team to keep everyone aligned. This cycle also supports the utilization of the talent pool and continuous optimization of priorities and requests to ensure you remain aligned with the objectives of the business as you go through project iterations.
Bringing It All Together
Information, communication, and utilization are key elements to strategic portfolio management success while remaining agile and incorporating iterative change and improvements. PPM can provide these three elements to help you drive more value for the organization through improved prioritization of projects and alignment of the workforce to those projects, capacity planning, portfolio optimization and analysis, and continuous improvement. Leveraging a solution to automates data and insights will go a long way to taking your portfolio to the next strategic level of efficiency. Learn more about KeyedIn’s PPM solutions and hear how it supports these three key drivers in our latest webinar.