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Portfolios and the Strategy to Action Life Cycle

May 18, 2013 2 comments

As a project manager, you lead the organization towards innovative thinking about how to realistically meet strategic objectives.  Through managing people and projects, you have a vast array of knowledge of the organization, business practices, organizational culture, power players and influential people.  Most importantly, you know where the bottlenecks are in the many business processes at work.  You know the people who enable and those who do not.  You are among the most valuable assets at your company because you know how to get things done.

Having all of this knowledge and experience, how can you become a major contributor to corporate strategy development and project alignment?  Take all of that knowledge and use it to think and act like a strategic enabler and solution partner.

Portfolio Framework

Portfolio management requires both business managers and solution partners working together to align, plan and manage a “strategy to action life cycle” for new and legacy corporate initiatives.  This collaboration encourages critical thinking to discover how to use your social and political capital to strengthen corporate strategies.

  • Portfolios help organize and prioritize project investments.  If you are familiar with Agile practices, a Product Backlog can be compared to a portfolio.  As Product Owners and customers examine the business value of product features and prioritize each feature in the Product Backlog based on value and risk, business managers and solution partners examine the business value of proposed projects and prioritize each project in the portfolio based on value and risk.  This guides companies to make decisions about project and resource investments.
  • Portfolios help inspire innovation to reduce cost.  Examining the business value of legacy technologies and business processes helps identify areas of improvement or replacement as some elements may no longer support business strategy or may be too costly to sustain.  The goal here is to reduce the number of elements that have low business impact.  Technology retirement or replacement may lead to new, smarter technologies that enable corporations to achieve business goals smarter and faster.

An influential PMO can and should impact business decisions about projects.  When opportunity to reduce cost or improve business value is present, members of the PMO should be at the forefront when business leaders ask what the best alternatives are.  The “strategy to action life cycle” is a continuous process with direct participation and influential input from project managers strategically poised to add the most value.  You don’t need to hire a portfolio manager to manage a portfolio.  Project Managers can lead strategy to action management activities using portfolios and this critical contribution can increase the value of your PMO.

 

Project Managers are Strategic Enablers

April 13, 2013 Leave a comment

The project manager says to the PMO manager, “2013 is going to be a busy year for us, with all of the new projects starting in just a few short weeks.  I hope we have enough project managers to handle the workload.”  The boss agrees, “Yeah, I just received this year’s list of projects and I think we are in for a busy year too.  We may have to hire a PM or two.  Can you start collecting resumes so we can start the hiring process?”  The project manager goes off to start the screening process and in a few weeks, two new project managers join the team.  Then the finance team decides to cut the budget and some of the new projects.  The PMO manager says, “We seem to have more project managers then we do projects, so let’s have the two new PMs evaluate some project management software for next year’s budget.  I’m sure a new project or two will pop up sooner or later.”

List

What’s wrong with this PMO?  The PMO is not engaged in the strategic planning process so the PMO manager uses duct tape as a remedy.  The PMO manager makes a resource plan and hires new staff based on a list of projects, then once the company cuts the budget, the new project managers have no projects to manage so the PMO manager assigns them to work on something that is not part of the strategic plan, hoping a new project or two pops up in the near future.

Business leaders will invest money in technology and human resources that help companies reach strategic goals and they see value in project management professionals who invest in themselves to become savvy business management leaders.  Today’s project manager adds value when business leaders see them as “strategic enablers”, planning and managing projects that add value to the company’s bottom line.  Just as IT organizations enable their companies to achieve their goals through technology and service management, PMOs enable companies to achieve their goals through strategic solution delivery.  Companies make it possible for PMOs to deliver strategic solutions by engaging them in the strategic planning process.