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Where Do You Start with Project Portfolio Management?
By Alex Lobba

Let’s get practical. Leaving aside all the big discussions about objectives, alignment, executive sponsorship (don’t get me wrong, these ARE important)…where do you start to get PPM done? Is there a pattern of implementation that is the most common across successful PPM implementations?

Good news, the answer is yes! Regardless of what your main objectives are, there are common building blocks that you just need to put in place in order to get value out of any PPM system. It all boils down to: people, priorities, and execution.

People

This is always the biggest cost in IT projects. Good old resource management. Not much can be done until we have a good picture of what roles and resources we have, what they are working on, what their capacity and allocation are. This need not be down to the level of individual tasks. You can even start with just roles and percentage of time across projects (yes, a simple project inventory is also required.) Later you can add individuals for each role and track at a more granular level if you really want to.

Priorities

Having an idea of what we are working on and what resources we have available, we are now ready to do a couple of things: decide which new demand we should work on, and validate that projects in flight are still worth pursuing. In order to do that we need to implement work requests for initiating projects and other work items (so we can track demand and compare apples to apples), and we also need a portfolio view to balance the overall mix of work in progress and new proposed work.

Execution

In the end it’s all about delivering results, completing projects and doing them on time and on budget. So it may be tempting to want to start with managing project scheduling and execution, but what’s the point of having a fabulous project schedule without the resources to get it done; or worse, focusing on an initiative that the business does not deem as critical? Not a good idea to put the cart in front of the horse… Project managers and team members will be a lot happier when they get to work on what really matters and executives will appreciate the business impact of PPM.

What has been your experience in implementing PPM? Where have you focused first?

Alex Lobba is a PPM Strategic Consultant at Innotas. He is a software industry executive with over 20 years in IT management and enterprise application experience. Alex has worked with software vendors and IT organizations in defining their strategies and roadmaps. He is an independent consultant and has previously run the IT Governance product line for Mercury and Kintana’s Project Portfolio Management solution. Alex managed both inbound and outbound marketing at several companies with a proven track record of results and market making thinking. He has lectured worldwide on IT management best practices.

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