The subject of managing corporate portfolios of projects, otherwise known
as "Project Portfolio Management" (PPM) is a hot topic on the circuit these
days. Perhaps this is not surprising since more and more companies are using
the project management discipline to manage multiple projects with finite resources
in a competitive environment - but with only limited success. The problem is,
how best to improve results?
Now, the Association for Project Management (APM), UK, has recently issued
a valuable little booklet designed to address exactly this issue. It is called
Directing Change: A guide to governance of project management. Best of all,
it is available free of charge by downloading it in PDF format from the APM
web site. And the APM is unequivocal about the guide's importance. In the first line of the Foreword, the President of APM, Sir Bob Reid, asks rhetorically: "How should those governing organizations oversee management of projects?" To which the emphatic answer is "This guide provides the answer."!
The foreword goes on to explain:
"The discipline of project management has come of age. The body of knowledge is well defined, skill requirements can be assessed and methods are codified. Good practice in directing and managing project work is increasingly evident. However, in many organizations there remains a gap in the governing surveillance of project activities. Responsible practice requires that this gap be eliminated.
"The guide applies standard governance requirements to your project portfolio. Following
a structured approach it lists 42 questions which boards of directors, or their
equivalents, should ask to satisfy themselves and their stakeholders.
"It is short and to the point. It applies in most types of organization, across all sectors.
It will help improve your corporate performance, reduce shocks at boardroom level and avoid hardship to stakeholders.
"We commend its wide adoption."
However, it should be noted that:
"This guide is intended solely to provide practical guidance relating to the establishment of good governance of project management. This guide is not intended to comprise advice on which you may rely in order to ensure compliance with any legal obligations regarding corporate governance. All liability is excluded in respect of any loss or damage which may arise in connection with the use of or reliance on any information contained in this guide."
Our question is: "While this is all sound advice for managing a collection of projects, does it fully serve the stakeholders', that is, the shareholders', best interests?" We think it falls short and explain why. But first, let's examine the booklet's content.
(Site accessed February 4, 2005)
2. Directing Change: A guide to governance of project management,
Association for Project Management, UK, 2004, p1
3. Ibid, p13