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Outside In
By Demian Entrekin

We have spent a fair amount of time and energy thinking about PPM from the inside out. This is especially true in PPM for IT, or what some folks are calling the IT Portfolio. What I mean by “inside out” thinking is that we tend to look out at the rest of the organization from within the boundaries of the IT Portfolio. We look for ways to organize our assets, our resources and our processes so that they function and create value “out there.” We draw work flows, we create dashboards, we prioritize how we allocate resources.

All of this assumes that we can draw a circle around the IT Portfolio. See the discussion that ensued when I asked the question: “What does an IT Portfolio consist of?”.

In that discussion, I concluded that “from an object/entity perspective, I would propose the following items as the contents of the IT Portolfio

  1. The IT assets, including software, hardware and related contracts
  2. The IT services, including help desk and support
  3. The IT projects (new, maintenance & break/fix) under way
  4. The requested IT projects (new, maintenance & break/fix) that have not yet been approved
  5. The IT service items (new and in progress)
  6. The IT vendors, the SLA’s and the people who manage those relationships
  7. The IT resources that are available to do work on 1-6

The IT Portfolio is managed via an IT Governance process and resources, which vary depending on the organization.”

That is certainly not the end-all-be-all definition of the IT Portfolio, but it’s a start. But to return to the point, if we draw a circle around this list and say “there’s your IT portfolio.” That’s the inside-out view. What about the outside in view? What I would like to do is to step outside of that list and ask these questions:

  1. What forces are bearing on that IT portfolio?
  2. What are the inputs and outputs?
  3. How do we measure the performance?

It seems to me that this is perhaps the simplest place to start when it comes to IT PPM and IT Portfolio Management. What is it? What goes in and what comes out?

[Inputs] –> [IT Portfolio] –> [Outputs]

Too simple?

Demian is the CTO of Innotas. As founder and CEO, Entrekin oversaw marketing, product development, sales and services for the company. Today, he focuses on strategic product direction. Prior to Innotas, Entrekin co-founded Convoy Corporation and was Chief Architect of its initial products. In that role, Entrekin helped the company lead the middleware market with an annual growth rate of 670 percent and played an instrumental role in Convoy’s subsequent acquisition by New Era Networks in 1999. A recognized thought leader in Project Portfolio Management, Entrekin has published numerous papers on PPM and his blog (PPM Today) explores current issues related to successful PPM implementation. During his 18 year career, Demian has assumed leadership roles as a consultant and as an entrepreneur, delivering commercial and corporate database applications. Demian holds a B.A. in English from UCLA and an M.A. in English from San Francisco State University.

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