Identifying the Internal Challenges and Barriers to Project Portfolio Management Adoption

Author: Ian Needs

So you have done the research, evaluated appropriate PPM software, now it’s time to begin planning the implementation. Right?

Well that’s the approach many take.  However in our recent webinar the Disturbing Reality of Todays PMO we highlighted some of the key statistics on why PMOs fail.  So let’s turn our attention to why things can be so difficult. 

What are the biggest challenges when it comes to implementing Project Portfolio Management Software or adopting a PMO initiative?

Based on over 20 years of implementing Project Portfolio Management Solutions, here are the 10 key challenges and barriers to PPM adoption faced by most organizations.

1. Internal Politics and Culture

Internal politics and culture are by far the biggest barriers to adoption.  PPM by its very nature will demand change within the business, and with change comes resistance – from both above and below.

2. Appropriate Sponsorship

You will need to become an ‘evangelist’ for Project Portfolio Management, with an ‘executive sponsored guardian angel’.  Ensure executives have a complete understanding of benefits and how PPM affects them personally. Executive Summaries are a great way to achieve this along with developing a PPM Business Case.

3. Project Management Maturity

Organizational project management maturity will play a key role. The more mature the organizations project management capability, the more ready will the business be to adopt PPM.

4. Management Commitment

Top management commitment to and an understanding of the purpose and value add of the PMO is critical.

5. A Common Approach

Resistance from program and project teams to the adoption, of a common approach to managing projects, reporting progress and constructing business cases.  Many will have developed their own methods and processes for managing projects and will shun any attempts to standardize processes.

6. Pet Projects

The unwillingness of business managers to see their ‘pet projects’ shifted in priority is also a barrier.  This will be a symptom of never having a global view of projects and there alignment to business objectives.  In our experiences, we have seen cases of up to 80% of projects that have been stopped due to no business case or lack of business owner.

7. Pace of Adoption

Avoiding the big bang deployment could not be truer for PPM.  We advocate starting with the 4 key pillars of business success - resources, money, deliverables and benefits.  Disagreement on the pace of adoption is a challenge.  However, our advice is to minimize the impact on business-as-usual activities – start at the strategic level and filter down to the management of individual projects as maturity and adoption dictate.

8. Financial Investment

The willingness of the organization to support the financial investment potentially needed for implementing a PPM software tool-set will always be a challenge, as will securing the resource to support it.  This is where SaaS Project Portfolio Management Software provides advantages over on-premise solutions.  With SaaS you can de-risk the implementation by assessing key features prior to purchase via a free trial or proof of benefit.

9. Human Nature

It is simply human nature, that people will blame the tools and processes to hide their own lack of knowledge and understanding.  Ensuring your organization is well organized and you have the framework in place to help you successfully deploy PPM is imperative.  Our PPM Master Class series provides all the information you need to achieve this.

10. Avoid the Big Brother Syndrome

Timesheet and financial information is invaluable as a method of collecting baseline information. However, it is essential to manage the ‘Big Brother Syndrome” by clearly communicating the reasons for its use to all involved in project delivery.

Find out more about how KeyedIn Projects can help you to improve your project portfolio management.