Top 5 Reasons Why Project Portfolio Management Will Matter to CIOs in 2012
1. To increase the value and alignment of IT with the business
- CIOs who focus on integrating IT more into the portfolio management process can help blur the lines of separation, be part of the value discussion and be viewed as a partner to the business.
- Companies need to consider how the integrate IT and business into something that looks more like a single organism and how the CIO might co-chair or in some cases, run this side of the organization.
2. To improve the flow of ideas and work in progress
- IT involvement earlier in the lifecycle will contribute to better decisions and choices made with the business.
- It will improve visibility into necessary investments and resources required to meet demand and will allow a more transparent environment for how things get done.
- Introducing practices that allow for accountability and transparency in the process will heighten the sense of urgency and help identify where the value gaps are so that work flows in a more intelligent way.
3. To advance the quality of ideas and not just the outcome
- Understanding the demands of the business will drive CIOs to take a closer look at what is possible and will help them judge how well IT can or can't execute on delivering a given project to a "right first time" level of quality.
- This means introducing courage into the equation to question decisions and ideas, not necessarily people, in a more deliberate manner so that failing fast is viewed as a positive principle in order to help remove waste from the process.
4. To build trust and integrity into the process
- Traditional portfolio management models are plagued by disconnects between business sponsors and IT. While this is similar to solving the alignment issue, I believe the difference is that a CIO who gets IT involved earlier in the portfolio management process and embedded more has a greater chance of successful projects. It will also help craft a working model that has much better checkpoints and gateways for decision-making and will therefore result in a framework with more integrity and less bureaucracy.
- The process must withstand scrutiny from various stakeholders, especially from IT, that may not be involved now but would benefit from being involved.
- Also, "traditional thinking" must be avoided and challenged. "This is how we've always done it", and all similar statements, have an expiration date! For any organization that is serious about change, knowing when views and opinions should expire is a huge win.
- Building integrity also means ensuring that the people in key roles can actually do the work, adapt to change and maintain the level of passion and persistence necessary for great results.
5. To establish the CIO role as strategic one once more
With so much being written about the value of the CIO each year, CIOs who look at portfolio management as a lifecycle that permeates the whole business have an opportunity to be more strategic and insightful. Thus:
- They can position themselves as the custodians of technology and advancement vs. being a cost center.
- They can help transform the organization to be more single minded with fewer boundaries.
- They can be initiators vs. responders and help introduce practices, principles and methods that will drive the types of changes that have quick wins and positive influence associated with them.
- They can combat the perception that the CIO is no longer needed or doesn't have the weight to help drive so much of what the business relies on, i.e. information technology.
This last point may seem too "politically" delicate a subject for the CIO while discussing project portfolio management. However, the message I'm trying to convey is that the whole idea of project portfolio management is that it is the lifeblood process of any company. In the economic conditions of 2012 especially, it must receive serious consideration - and the CIO is well positioned to lead the charge.
I should emphasize that these five points stem from my experience with real customer environments where the change has already started. I believe this is important to point that out since these points may be viewed more like opinion rather than something real and tangible. The order of these points is not as important as the acknowledgement that they need to be considered.