Often times the biggest challenge associated with complex organizational transformation is figuring out how and in what sequence to take down the proverbial elephant – What are the steps? On which leg should I start chewing first? Charting a course for your company’s journey into the realm of Project Portfolio Management (PPM) is no different. It would be far too easy (not to mention foolhardy) to suggest some sort of “one size fits all” approach. Every organization is structured somewhat differently. Corporate paces and cultures are as numerous as company logos, and each’s capacity and readiness to embrace change is uniquely their own. Being blind or insensitive to that fact would likely doom any well-intended transformation effort from its very onset.
The challenge can be somewhat simplified by at least agreeing on the basic LEGO® blocks with which one must establish the foundation for any viable enterprise PPM function. While there is no universal consensus on what those blocks might be, let me take a swing at outlining a few that I believe make up the core components of that stable underpinning.
Employees, business partners and our customers seldom lack the ability to generate an inexhaustible supply of ideas regarding how to improve their lives through automation. The challenge is defining and adopting a standardized and efficient way of hearing, cataloging and processing that continuous inbound stream of creative thought. It goes without saying that we, as IT service providers, must ensure we don’t inadvertently squelch the invaluable ideation assets flowing from our brightest and most creative colleagues by not instituting an intuitive “proposal” (IT project request) intake process. The intake process is made up of several smaller building blocks, including:
With a well-developed Intake Process and ever-evolving set of Proposal Business Cases in hand, our next challenge is to get a priority-driven perspective of the stack. This is an ongoing process that takes place in two cyclical/recurring stages:
Let’s put our enterprise hats on for a moment, and entertain the idea of establishing a small, but highly empowered, set of senior enterprise leaders whose mandate is to always keep the larger strategic goals and success of the company, not just themselves, in the forefront of their minds. This broader-billed cap drives every decision they make regarding the dispatch of the monies and human capital of the firm toward a common, not conflicting, goal…the success of the company. “A rising tide lifts all boats.” With well summarized and visualized information at the fingertips of such an unbiased panel of decision-makers, a well-reasoned view of the enterprise’s project priorities is well within their reach.
In keeping with the adage, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”, IT organizations in pursuit of more mature PPM practices must become disciplined in maintaining a glass-pipeline view of their current Resources’ skills and capacity utilization (available/committed). Given the highly dynamic nature of any IT workforce, lightweight and intuitive processes must be put in place to continuously measure the ebbs and flows of available Resource Capacity within each Resource Category (e.g. Project Manager, Business Analyst, Application Architect, Data Architect, Developer, Quality Assurance, etc.). At the risk of stating the obvious, this success of this endeavor is highly dependent upon an organization’s commitment and rigor in the following areas:
The three primary Building Blocks outlined above – Standardized Ideation/Intake Process, Standardized Prioritization and Effective Capacity Management – serve as the primary inputs for the next chapter of our LEGOLAND® PPM construction project… Resource Balancing and Project Delivery Sequencing. Let’s start with some basic concepts first.
Comprehensive, continuous forecasting/reforecasting of Proposal and active Project Resource demands, balanced against “sufficiently accurate” skillset/role Capacity projections, serves as an effective planning workbench from which to build an optimized Resource Deployment and Project Sequencing Plan. All of the downstream Release Planning and Delivery Management functions depend on the effectiveness and integrity of these upstream Building Blocks.
As noted in the introductory comments, the methods outlined in this blog post describe the ideal scenario. Separate and apart from the science is the artistic aspect of the challenge – structuring an effective Organizational Change Management strategy that aligns the PPM initiative’s velocity of incremental organizational change with the enterprise’s level of maturity and readiness to embrace it.
If you’re entertaining the idea of embarking on, or perhaps resurrecting, such a journey, click here to have ISI contact you.
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