Success is relative. Just yesterday I was working with an organization where the CEO said, “If I could just get a manageable list of the current active projects and their current status that would be the first step to success.” As you can see this CEO’s idea of success is incremental. That’s the key.
I’ve witnessed successful and, unfortunately, unsuccessful attempts at implementing IT Portfolio governance models. Typically most of these failures are:
- a result of a narrow vision of the end state;
- implementing a PMO with the exclusive mission of projects and methods. This is a situations where the focus is less on delivery and more on creating the Project Lifecycle Management (PLM) deliverables regardless of the size/duration of the proposed project, i.e., “The Process Police.”
- And finally the “Big Bang” approach to implementing technology in an attempt to buy a process out of thebox.
Success is more of an organizational change management effort than simply installing a tool. Or as I like to say “Build it, they will come.” Unfortunately what really happens is just the opposite: Build it and they will RUN.
This notion of a change management approach is important because success is more about identifying the “change plateaus” and building a strategy to execute those plateaus instead of just implementing a tool that everyone resists 6 weeks after you go-live. You have to walk before you run.
Key to that is having an understanding ofthe pain the organization is experiencing. Like the example of the CEO above, his pain was around portfolio transparency. That was his first change plateau.
So what’s the next plateau? That’s not always clear. That’s why it is imperative to have access to senior management, because macro-environmental influences can most definitely change any leader’s course of action.
IT Portfolio Management or Governance can be viewed in three categories.
- Asset Management – this isn’t necessarily the way we currently view assets like servers, PC’s, etc. although they can be part of the asset pool. For IT, I look at assets more broadly, focused on business outcomes. It really about applications and how applications influence processes to achieve positive business outcomes.
- Project Management – we execute projects to create, renew, and divest assets.
- Resource Management – self-explanatory – we need people (in the right place at the right time) to operate the process/ tools and execute the projects.
The big challenge is to not let the governance of these three categories be developed and operated in silos.
Oh and by the way, this doesn’t come in a box. You just can’t buy software and expect the software to immediately solve everything.
So what are the change plateaus for each of these categories? Every organization is different and each stakeholder will bringa different lens upon that pain. But here are some ideas:
Like the CEO above, it could simply be an inventory for all three categories and the status of that inventory.
Identifying and implementing standard operating practices and service agreements for your assets, for IT ITIL (Information Technology Library) is a great place to start.
Project Management and Resource Management has really evolved in understanding to Project Portfolio Management (PPM). With PPM we are dealing with:
- Timeliness – having the right number and the right balance of projects, completed on time without gridlock.
- High Value – projects that reflects business strategy and are aligned with business objectives
- Quality – projects are executed with predictable outcomes
- Right People – having the right person at the right time to execute projects
Success is in understanding your pain points and which ones to take on first for immediate success, recognizing they all can’t be tackled overnight. Success is getting early and quick victories like the CEO example sought. Then build on to those early successes by identify the change plateaus and executing a roadmap with incremental capability and success.
Remember, IT Portfolio Management is transitional NOT transformational!