Project Portfolio Management

Project Portfolio Management is the selection, prioritization, and control of an organization’s projects and programs.

Example: Once a wise said, “Do not put all of your eggs in one basket” – Warren Buffett

Same way, to run a successful organization you need to invest in different projects as nobody can predict the success and failures accurately. Normally, big organizations have a variety of projects to meet the overall strategic goals of the organization. This is where PPM comes into the picture.

What is Project Portfolio Management?

Project Portfolio Management – PPM is responsible for all projects in any organization. It always sees the projects, portfolios in a bigger picture – a high-level perspective.

Project Portfolio Management used to optimize the output of the portfolio to get maximum benefits the organizations want.

Most of the firms use Project or Program or Portfolio Management Office – PMO to achieve goals of Project Portfolio Management.

PMO drives PPM at the strategic level on all projects. It’s a permanent entity in the organization using it.

PMO will analyze and prioritize the projects and even will advise the organization no to take any project after careful analysis of the organization position & nature of the project if not matching its strategic goals.

What is PMO?

Project Portfolio Management in an organization is best served by a central Project, program or Portfolio Management Office – PMO.

Now a day many organizations are referring to P3MO model that is Portfolio, program and Project Management office. This is a combined facility that brings project, program and portfolio skills under one leadership. In this, these team supports all the related manager at every level.

Project Portfolio management needs high-level project and program management maturity to work. It needs the best decision-making governance, strategy generation process.

The goal of PPM is to balance risks and rewards.

Major Tasks of Project Portfolio Management

As said earlier, PMO manages these tasks if available otherwise PPM do it by itself. The major tasks are;

Prioritizing: It will advise prioritizing a project or program according to strategic objectives.

Resources Management: Responsible to manage & provide all the required resources to drive projects according to skill, time & budget.

High-Level Planning & Controlling: To track major milestone of projects

Development: It will advise & arrange required training, coaching & mentoring to the team including managers as per requirements.

Support Program: One of the major tasks is once assigned the team it should help the team to drive a successful project & if they need any kind of help it should provide without any hassle.

Without proper PPM application, there may be all blur and organization may run out soon as it is not looking at future perspective efficiently. In this case, an organization is following a bottom-up approach that will overload the employees.

PPM use top-down technique, it ensures to put the load on a capable person only and project are less risky. This is done through proper resource planning.

Role of a Portfolio Manager

A portfolio manager’s role is to select the projects and programs that deliver the strategy to the organization related and to deliver the capability that will enable to those projects and programs to be delivered in the specified parameters.

Project Portfolio manager job to have a “Birds Eye View” on over all the projects and programs related to an organization.

A portfolio manager looks after strategic development, project and program management and change management simultaneously.

Portfolio manager continuously evaluates the project and programs within the organizations to prioritize and even to dump or remove if no longer serving the organization.

PPM & Project Management

Difference between Project Portfolio Management and Project Management

To understand in a simple way, let’s start from the basics – Hope you may know already theses terms & you can skip if you wanted to next heading.

Project

A primary endeavor was undertaken that gives us Unique product, services or result as per PMI – PMBOK.

For example, you are to build a Mall, road, bridge, Plant erection, etc. are one-time unique tasks & we call it a Project. Making tea or cleaning a house is not a Project as it is not Unique – It’s called operation.

Program

It’s a group of “related” project that we can manage in a coordinated way. This is done to get collective benefits as we cannot control these ones by one.

Related in the sense of strategic business objectives, transformational cross departments or business units.

Example, we are having a project for Parking and other is of a Road. We will manage them through a Program as activities are closely related and hence beneficial. A dissimilar project can’t form a Program.

Portfolio

It includes Projects and Programs as you can see in the above exhibition. You have multiple non-related projects and programs even you can make sub-portfolios for your convince which ultimately have Projects in it.

The basic difference between portfolio & program is: in a program, only related projects are included but the portfolio won’t mind any to have any.

Project Management

A discipline that uses principles and procedures to help to manage a project to deliver a unique outcome, such as a product, result or service. The person responsible to run a project is called a Project Manager as per PMI standard as he is one who has Charter to utilize the project resources efficiently by applying the project management process.

Program Management

Program Management is the process to achieve the optimum result for the group of projects.

Program Manager is a person responsible for managing the program.

Implementation of PPM

The implementation of Project Portfolio Management (PPM) brings more openness to the authorization process and less ambiguity into the what, where, when and how of the project delivery process. If a PPM process is put in place typical political manipulation around pet projects becomes much more difficult. PPM also makes it difficult to hide mistakes and brings a level of detail that may create a fear factor amongst both senior and operational managers. However, PPM is a change project and resistance to change will essentially become the norm.

What are the typical barriers to adoption?

  1. Internal politics and culture are by far the biggest barriers to adoption. As you understand that implementation is always very nature will demand change within the business, and with change comes resistance – from both above and below.
  2. You will need to become an ‘evangelist’ for Project Portfolio Management, with an ‘executive sponsored guardian angel’. Resistance is inevitable; critics will most likely outnumber advocates, and you will need to continually preach the benefits and prove the value of PPM.
  3. Often management is aware of dissenters or non-conformists in the organization but mistakenly relies upon the introduction of the new system to improve these individuals’ productivity and performance, rather than tackling them head-on through direct communication before introducing the new system.
  4. Organizational capability and maturity in program and project management governance and standards will impact PPM adoption. The more mature the organization project management capability, the more ready will the business be to adopt PPM.
  5. Top management commitment to and understanding of the purpose and value of Project Portfolio Management is critical. Typically senior management either delegates it to lower ranks, or believes that it is the responsibility of the vendor to design and implement a complete process in isolation, and fails to appreciate that the organization and its key personnel are a vital part of the adoption process.
  6. The inability of management to agree on the criteria for identifying projects within the organization is an important barrier. For example, there will be resistance from program and project teams to the adoption of a common approach to managing projects, reporting progress and constructing business cases.
  7. The unwillingness of business managers to see their ‘pet projects’ shifted in priority is also a barrier.
  8. Disagreement on the pace of adoption is a challenge. Whether rollout is incremental or rapid, it is inevitable that the business will demand that disruption and productivity loss be minimized.
  9. The willingness of the organization to support the financial investment potentially needed for implementing a PPM software tool-set will be a major issue, and tool selection is often fraught with technical difficulties. ‘Rip-and-replace’ solutions come at a high price – cultural, technical and financial. The adoption of PPM will need to take into account the impact on existing processes and systems. Will they be replaced? If so, why, and at what cost to the business? Integration, flexibility, and reconfigurability will determine the successful choice of any PPM solution.
  10. It is simply human nature, that people will blame the tools and processes to hide their own lack of knowledge and understanding. All tools and processes are created with their own set of idiosyncrasies; it will, therefore, be important to provide continual support and training. However, you must be prepared to accept that no matter how much you train, hand-hold, and evangelize, some people will simply not understand PPM.
  11. In order for the executive levels to get a bird’s-eye view of information on multiple projects, it is essential that the business be able to collect that information and to determine who is working on what. One of the most crucial but often overlooked barriers to PPM is the adoption of timesheet technology as a method of collecting baseline information. It is essential to manage the ‘Big Brother Syndrome’ – the suspicion that the business is only using timesheet technology to keep tabs on the staff. Instead, it is necessary to sell the benefits of increased employee visibility, utilization, and productivity.

PPM – Best Practice Considerations

Who: engaging the right people

In order to organize the business for PPM, senior management and executive buy-in is absolutely critical – without this, PPM will fail. Executive sponsorship is essential to create awareness, provide support, build consensus and motivate stakeholders at all
levels to participate effectively. Executive sponsorship gives PPM the all-important ‘nod’ from above.

Why: identifying the pain and calculating the ROI

Justifying PPM within any organization depends on the business’s ability to sell PPM’s benefits. This can be achieved by conducting a health check to establish key areas of pain and then to dovetail this with an ROI model. Ownership of the health check and ROI model should be with the key project stakeholders and executive sponsors. The ROI analysis will help the organization define and quantify potential top-line benefits and also identify the quantitative and qualitative benefits from deploying PPM, such as in revenue, market capitalization, increased customer base and decreased attrition.

What: selecting the right tools

The successful deployment of PPM will critically depend on a selection of the right software tools, and a key determinant is how the tools integrate with the rest of the business from both the cultural and the technical viewpoints. As discussed earlier, when selecting PPM tools the organization should look to avoid a ‘rip-and-replace’ tool-set. It is essential to choose tools that are scalable and flexible, avoiding excessive and restrictive customization, and above that integrate with peripheral applications and
are able to evolve as the business evolves. Successful tool selection needs to be embraced by everyone in the organization, and if an application is too difficult to use, or requires people to make drastic changes to the way they do their job, then PPM will fail.

How: testing the tools and processes

Deploying a proof of benefit (PoB) is an essential prerequisite that enables the organization to minimize all the risks associated
with the implementation of a change project like PPM. The PoB provides an actual ‘real-world’ view of the value of a PPM solution within a ‘low risk’ environment and is an excellent way to facilitate the communication of potential Return on Investment (ROI) and Return on Opportunity (ROO). The PoB is in actuality the first deliberate step in a phased approach to implementation by starting small and then rolling out more functionality and coverage over time.

When: avoiding ‘big bang’ deployment

It is essential to understand that PPM by its very nature is a change project and that each business is different in terms of its level of maturity and ability to handle change. Building on a PoB as part of a larger, phased approach should be undertaken and this should be based on the company’s internal project management readiness and maturity. Use the results of your business case and PoB to scale the PPM solution throughout those areas of the business that are most needy. An incremental implementation allows cultural issues to be solved on a domain-by-domain level and then its success to be sold upwards throughout the organization. PoB allows the business to cultivate best practice examples that can be converted into
quantifiable results for management.

PMO in PPM Implementation

• Tactical: The PMO provides direct support to projects in several areas such as scope management, baseline change management, project scheduling, resource management, cost management, and project reviews. The PMO provides the information required for decision making and ensures that the decisions are being carried out.

• Strategic: The PMO supports the PPM framework, which in addition supports project prioritization, performance management, and benefits realization (see Figure 13). The PPMT intersects with the executive stream, allowing the organization to make strategic ‘go/kill/hold/fix’ decisions on key projects in the context of managing a balanced portfolio
of investments.

In summary, the PMO is the function responsible for coordinating, planning, overseeing and monitoring an organization’s multi-project environment. Through the PPM process, the PMO enforces executive accountability and transparency by connecting the organization’s projects to the business’s portfolio strategic decision-making stream. The information supplied by the PMO flows directly into the PPMT’s funding, selection, prioritization, and resourcing processes.PMOs are becoming a standard feature within many organizations and are viewed as the operational center supporting any project within the business. They act as the clearinghouse for project information and the driving force for project delivery.

The main specific responsibilities of the PMO include:

Project management, control, delivery, and alignment:

– monitoring project outcomes and communicating this upstream to the PPMT and downstream to project managers
– increasing communication and coordination across projects
– advising the PPMT on the benefits and status of projects
– advising and reporting on the placement of new and elimination of old projects
– endorsing, advising and supporting project managers
– confirming successful delivery and sign-off at the closure of the projects
– managing resource utilization across the organization, a matching project needs with specialized skills and availability
– ensuring critical projects are on time and within budget by providing objective accountability and review at every stage, from initiation to closure
– using dashboards to enhance the roles of project and program managers within the enterprise

Financial accounting:

– assisting project managers with budget control
– maintaining financial status reports on all projects
– analyzing interfaces and critical cost dependencies between projects and recommending appropriate action
– maintaining a list of stakeholders and their financial interests

Project management support:

– providing a single point of contact for all project information
– training, coaching, guidance and mentoring
– developing and holding project templates and master copies of all project and program information
– generating all necessary quality management documentation
– maintaining, controlling and updating documentation
– establishing and maintaining an electronic registry of project information for use by both the PPMT and project managers

Methodologies, standards, and metrics:

– guardianship of project methodologies (for example, Prince2), standards and metrics
– compiling reports and collecting information from project reviews
– providing a central, customer-focused office to care for the concerns of the client, sponsor and project stakeholders
– providing assistance to the PPMT in selecting and analyzing projects
– establishing consistent practices and standards for program governance arrangements, including project planning, reporting,
– change control, analyzing risks and maintaining and updating the risk register

Building Executive Sponsorship

Executives are more accountable today for answering these questions than ever before and are under the critical eye of the shareholders and the board to deliver value, maximizing ROI while minimizing the risks. It is at this level, that of the ‘executive community’, that buy-in and sponsorship are paramount. The executive decision-making stream is critical to the success or failure of any project and establishing a PPM process and solution within the business is only workable if it has executive support and visibility. And this support is only tenable in the long term if members of the executive body have a reliable and workable
framework for extracting the information they need.

PPM is a lame-duck if executives and senior management do not take ownership and are unable to sell its benefits to the board level. Executive sponsorship provides the infrastructure whereby the right authority is empowered to drive the right behavior in the organization. In other words, a truly strategy-driven approach to deploying PPM must start at the top in order for accountability, transparency and above all credibility to extend throughout the organization.

It is essential that the establishment of PPM within the business be based on a simple yet effective premise of managing it as a change project from the top down. Executives can eliminate many problems simply by involving themselves at the appropriate points in the project delivery process, and this is never truer than with the implementation of PPM.

Moreover, the tools and processes that are put in place must be bolstered by continual executive support and not delegated downwards once the process has been implemented. Therefore, as discussed in the next section, a permanent executive place on the PPMT is not only required but is essential to its long-term longevity. Managing the PPM process from the top-down increases visibility of the primary project planning functions, enabling executives to make top-level decisions that are based on coherent factual information, presented and accessed simply and delivered in real-time. This visibility gives the executive decision-making stream a bird’s-eye view of each department, their project progress, their cost and who is responsible for each. As a result, executives are able to make strategic and operational decisions quickly which can be adjusted as changes to projects in the pipeline arise.

The strategic contents of the portfolio, reasons for selection and execution fall to executive champions and project sponsors. However, as stated earlier, the successful deployment of the PPM process is in effect a multilayered relationship and is also dependent on how executive and strategic decisions about the business portfolio of projects are translated in real-time to the operational side of the business. In other words, how does the business communicate downstream with its program, project and
resources managers? It is simply not enough for both sides to communicate within the strategic planning process, then afterward for the focus to split back to each side’s respective interests with no iterative communication
between the two elements.

A key component of sponsorship by executives is their role in managing PPM deployment as a change management project. In other words, change management needs to be represented at board level and executive buy-in will be needed to help set up a change program that will address the cultural issues stirred up by PPM. The change program will need to agree on a corporate vision and justify the necessary resource management decisions needed to select, buy and implement the PPM tools. Executive
sponsorship will provide the PPM process with the necessary leadership to drive its implementation, weed out resistance, and sell its benefits to the board as well as provide it with long-term sustainability and credibility. As PPM is pushed down to the lower levels of an organization, this will begin to change the culture and impact the way of doing business.

For a PPM process to be successful, the organization needs this visibility of and control over resources in order to ensure that it has the right people on the right jobs at the right time. Effective PPM is about the ability to view resource allocation across all projects, programs and portfolios and also have the ability to reallocate these resources to more critical activities and to factor this into any forward planning.

In order to better understand your business’s capability, three key components need to be factored into organizing for PPM:

• A single integrated resource and skills database: It is essential that the PPM implementation is designed to handle automatic resource allocation, facilitated by an underlying skills database drawn from a
single data source.

• ‘What if’ scenario capability analysis: Advanced scenario modeling provides the ‘what-if’ capabilities to examine multiple scenarios so as to help fine-tune assumptions about projected resource usage, performance, and milestones, and is essential to planning and forecasting the future direction of the project portfolio. This allows resource plans to be tested for feasibility, matching against skills, competencies, experience, and availability. ‘What if’ scenarios give the portfolio process the ability to match supply and demand and clearly demonstrate to the rest of the business where potential shortfalls exist.

• Dashboard visibility of resources: PPM needs to deliver dynamic visibility by aligning resources with organizational capacities. Dashboard visibility, as outlined earlier, enables the business to drill down and drill up though capability management data by allowing all relevant roles and layers of management to efficiently measure and monitor in real-time the business’s internal and external resources demands. Dashboard visibility allows you to receive automatic notifications on
work slippage, capacity issues, and other concerns while extending

Wrap Up

PPM is the Control, selection, the prioritization of the allocation of resources within the organization that helps project and program managers to get optimum results. The main difference is in Project Portfolio Management a bigger picture and thinks out of the box always whereas Project Management only handles an individual one and hence not looking at the organization’s strategic set goals although it may be the best approach on a single project to complete successfully.


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