As organizations continue to rely on IT as an enabler for business, and an area that receives a large and ever increasing capital investment, resolving the issues of portfolio management has become a focus for many CEOs, CFOs and CIOs.
The standard answer to solve this problem has been the installation of a centralized IT projects repository. Generally, this has had limited success. With a repository, an organization gains a small amount of control, but rarely increases the value of the portfolio.
Taking a wider viewpoint, a good portfolio management approach should help an organization focus quickly on the most profitable ideas and expedite their time-to market. It ought to be a consistent process that creates visibility across the organization; focusing on what is important and supporting good decision-making. The approach needs to have prioritization at its heart while supporting execution and speed.
In fact, we now have proven methods that can shape how we work in a better way. It is an opportunity to invest more in our people, to retrain them and therefore retain them. It is also an opportunity to reevaluate our investments in technology and how we can extract the most value from them instead of falling into the trap of using less than 20% of the features they offer. That is a message in itself, whether the other 80% even makes sense for our organizations at all, and whether our entire approach to PPM can survive at all except by being much leaner.
Establishing an effective active project portfolio management process requires developing a number of capabilities and practice areas. In a mature organization, any project, idea or initiative can be judged on its merit against all other items in the organization, to the extent where less valuable projects can be stopped in order to focus on other priorities.
Few functions or areas, like PPM, have brought with it as much opportunity to transform an organization for the better. I'm not suggesting that this is the panacea to resolve all ills in companies but I am suggesting that a close inspection of how we use or do portfolio management will reveal much about how we think and operate as a company and perhaps help test our values.