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The Business of IT PPM: Putting the business into your portfolio management strategy

Project and portfolio management (PPM) is designed to help organizations deliver on their goals, optimize performance and become more adaptive in a constantly changing business environment.

It is a secret weapon of IT teams to deliver value to the business, become strategically aligned with goals of the organization, and most importantly, show that value through data and reporting. If your organization has been searching for new ways to take advantage of the benefits of IT PPM through the optimization of your PPM strategy, your project management office (PMO) has the tools and the capability to do just that. Focusing on four key areas, your IT PPM can be the biggest influencer in your IT strategy and an extension of the business, rather than just a function of business.

IT helps PMOs manage projects, portfolios and investments collectively by harnessing vast amounts of data, resources and deliverables under one umbrella, then providing tools that support the distillation of that information into meaningful reporting that drives all sort of decision-making. Let’s take a look at the four key ways you can leverage IT PPM to advance business.

1.      Prioritization: The right work at the right times, consistently

In order to realize the benefits of PPM in your business, your organization needs to have a single, integrated prioritization system that takes into account all facets of your operation across all types and sources of work. IT PPM empowers your PMO and other stakeholders with the ability to make informed decisions based on capability, capacity, change readiness and other important business drivers.

This is because IT PPM provides broad visibility into all areas of a portfolio, from deadlines and deliverables, to resources and historic results. In short, your process and technology helps determines what is possible. It is important to recognize that IT implementation is a partnership with a singular goal: the long-term success of the business. While technology determines what is possible, business provides needed context for these prioritized goals.

·         Top down alignment

·         Strategically focused

·         Based on optimizing ROI

·         Balances all sources and types of work

·         Balances innovation and time to solution

·         Eliminates gaps and inefficiencies

Managing your resources while ensuring the right people are deployed to the right projects is the tricky part of project management, which is why PPM can be so helpful in enhancing your overall strategy. Too often, PMOs get stuck in a rut that makes distributing resources more about urgency than accuracy. They can only see the crisis in their immediate vicinity and solving it quickly becomes a singular goal. When you’re putting out a fire, you don’t pause to complain about the type of hose that is handed to you, right?

2. Resources: Optimized utilization, maximize efficiency

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Resourcing should be strategic and future-focused — it must consider the current and future needs, as well as time to prepare. In the midst of change and uncertainty, it is difficult to maintain a long term strategy, but it actually becomes more important to do so. Ensuring your resources align to the projects you have deemed important to the business will ensure you are delivering on those promises. Furthermore, a solid resourcing strategy must also recognize that skills can be just as important as availability when it comes to distribution. It’s not enough to have a warm body at the monitor — each task needs the right taskee to ensure it is performed efficiently. IT PPM helps PMOs balance the distribution of work across all projects and portfolios with a dedicated, single resource pool that includes an exhaustive list of the skills, certificates and capabilities of each team member so no resource is over-utilized or double booked.

Business must go on and IT PPM supports the PMO to curate data on every resource at their disposal and find them quickly and easily when it comes time to assign work. When backed by the prioritization benefit listed above, your PMO can optimize utilization by providing the right resource for the job with zero waste or overlap.

3. Pivots

Rapid, pain-free adjustments

If the developments in the last year have taught us anything, it is that business is not stable. Even the factors we all once considered a foundational element of operations, such as person-to-person meetings, physical offices or fast and simple travel, have collapsed in the face of unprecedented hardships. What we have also learned is that flexibility is the key to survival and that IT is imperative to that flexibility. In a recent Forrester report, analyst Ted Schadler emphasizes this point saying, “Digital has been the only reasonable response to the COVID-19 crisis. And it’s the only reasonable response to the pandemic recession.”1 Many PMO leaders and project managers have learned and lived the power of the pivot and the importance it plays on business today. But the truth is, pivots and change happen all the time and your IT PPM strategy needs to allow for that. Embracing a change culture and instilling measures to support change – rather than reject it – will provide business returns from your project investments.

Technology can be credited with saving thousands of businesses and helping them to pivot during recent shutdowns and dramatic shifts to the way we all do business. In the realm of PPM, technology helps PMOs anticipate, plan for, and quickly roll with the proverbial punches. IT can be leveraged to monitor changes in needs, changes in goals and changes in alignment to make the right changes at the right time in the right way 

4. Control

Oversight and governance without slowing performance.

A common theme of the past three elements is visibility. By providing your PMO the ability to see and understand what is going on in all areas of operation, you are providing them with one of their greatest assets in supporting your business goals: control. IT PPM is automation-driven and results-oriented. Instead of parsing through stacks and stacks of spreadsheets, personnel files and creative briefs, information is gathered digitally and then sorted effectively.

No matter how brilliant your PMO and PMs might be, there is no substitute for the power of technology when it comes to compiling thousands of bits of information, not only making it easily accessible, but contextualizing it into meaningful reports. In short, your PMO can provide effective management that is driven by contextualized insight.

PPM is an excellent way to improve your business and maximize its effectiveness, profitability and positive outcomes. By adding in the benefits of IT PPM, your organization can achieve next-level performance that will help you ensure rock solid footing, even in uncertain times.

1 The Pandemic Recession Demands A Digital Response. Schadler, Ted. 25, June, 2020.

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