The Challenge of Project Portfolio Management (PPM)

What is it that makes PPM such a challenge? Contributor Laura Nee, Simplex President/CEO shares her insight.

People underestimate the “culture” change that is required to make it a success. People need to realize that the same informal methods that were used in the past are not going to work in the future. They need to realize that in order to meet the goals and objectives of the organization, they have to change their methods. Change is hard. Management needs to be behind the initiative. Otherwise it will fail. Management needs to communicate continually about the goals and objectives of the organization and how important it is to change the processes and procedures of how projects are executed in the future.

That’s the next hurdle - changing the process and realizing how important it is to document and train people on the new process. First to implement a PPM system, you need to define the processes of how projects will be initiated, planned, executed, and analyzed. Who will do what? Specifically identifying and documenting how a project will be initiated and approved. Once it is approved, who will actually go into the system and create a detailed project plan, assign resources and or costs, and baseline the project. What reports are needed to allow everyone involved to make timely decisions?
And if you are looking for a resource management system, that adds another layer of complexity. What is your central resource pool structure? Are you going to be using role-based planning or skills-based planning to identify resource requirements before a project starts and then search for the best available expertise to be assigned to your projects as needed?

One of the most difficult steps in managing a project effectively is updating it. Ideally, if you are using a PPM system for resource management, you’ll use a timesheet or time tracking system to collect the progress updates. This is the most efficient method. Often companies will have the Project Manager collect the updates by interviewing the team and updating the software themselves. This is counterproductive. By having the resources update their time in a timesheet, this allows them to enter the data directly. Some believe that the PM should review before time and status updates are applied to the project. Systems today can allow for an approval process from both the employee’s manager and the project manager ensuring that the data is accurate. This is a much better use of the manager’s time.
PPM is a difficult challenge for any organization looking to implement a new system. By focusing on the culture change and process change, organizations get more buy in from the people that will be using them which leads to better success.

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