Since its inception, the Gartner PPM Summit has proved to be the premier gathering of IT executives and thought leaders who are focused on how organizations select, implement, and manage PPM initiatives. If you are looking to understand trends in PPM from a people, process, and technology standpoint, this is the place to be. This year’s event was held in National Harbor, MD from May 21st to May 23rd (As a side note, if you are thinking about attending the Gartner PPM Summit next year, the venue will be the same).
It is no surprise that the theme of the 2012 Summit reflected the current economic climate in which businesses today find themselves operating. The theme centered on “finding equilibrium in today’s whirlwind of economic uncertainty, shifting priorities, and constrained resources.” It was apparent from the sessions and hallway conversations that the “New Normal” has forced executives to re-evaluate old tools, strategies and practices.
Here are some top of mind topics that were prevalent in this year’s Summit.
- The alignment of demand management with business strategy. The PMO not only needs to play a major part in ensuring that there is direct business strategy relationship for each of the projects that are undertaken, they need to get much better about communicating the business value and results to the executives/stakeholders. This means that project status reports/briefings need to evolve from simple status information (red/green, schedule changes, inventories of risks/issues, etc.) into an explanation of the relationship between the project and the business strategy and the impact to the business as project status and metrics change over time.
- Agile and iterative methods will see greater adoption as businesses demand more flexibility and control over their product features and trade-offs. This will require PMOs and organizations to adapt their processes to accommodate either a mix of project management styles or a greater emphasis on flexible and shifting business needs/capabilities instead of rigid project definitions. Instead of bloating projects with lots of features to drive up value for the project as a whole (and increasing scope, work, and duration/cost as a result), companies should start looking at and managing the value/priority of the individual features/capabilities themselves.
- PMOs are increasingly adopting lean management processes by focusing on value and waste to improve cost, speed, and quality of delivery all at once. One of the key points raised throughout the conference was that a Power PMO (using the “lean” management processes) needs to be able to drive quality and value on a shorter timeframe. With heavyweight projects and process, companies often find that by the time a project runs through the complete development process, they are actually solving a business problem that existed a long time in the past. By leveraging more lean processes and focusing on the five principles below, companies will be able to better match their work to the immediacy of problems, and deliver quality and value on a timelier basis. Matt Light, Vice President, Gartner Research highlighted the five principles that lean PMOs adhere to. They are:
- Value: What the customer is buying (Project rationale and PMO’s services)
- Value Stream: How value is created (Portfolio methodology and PMO process support)
- Perfection: Finding ways to cut waste and add value (Quality management, Track results)
- Flow: Maximize speed to value (Requirements and agility, Facilitate chartering)
- Pull: Match production to demand (Scope management, Capacity prioritization)
- Organizations still struggle with actionable reports and dashboards. Most organizations fail to come to a common understanding on what metrics to track, how they should be tracked, and where they should be tracked. The data for reports and dashboards often exist in disparate sources. Consolidating the right information at the right time is a huge challenge and is riddled with inefficiencies.
- Estimating projects continues to be a challenge in many IT organizations. The key is to ensure that IT and the business sponsor are jointly looking at the assumptions, defining what needs to be delivered and how the solution or product needs to be delivered. Matt Hotle, VP and Distinguished Analyst, Gartner gave a very eloquent presentation on this topic and talked about three top-down estimation approaches. A Deliverable-based estimation is best used when requirements have been well-defined. Functional or historical estimation is useful when the only input to the estimating process is business needs. An Experience-based estimation can be used only when the organization executes projects that are very similar to each other over time.
The Gartner PPM Summit is undoubtedly a great forum to meet people, exchange ideas, and see what’s new in PPM software – I hope this summary is useful for you!