How Will We Make this Work? Critical Factors for PPM Success

Henry Bennett

The key challenges and barriers to adopting Project Portfolio Management

Project Portfolio Management by its very nature will demand change within the business, and with change comes resistance—both from above and below. Management commitment to and an understanding of the purpose and value of project portfolio management is critical.

PPM is not to be delegated to lower ranks, nor is it the sole responsibility of the PPM vendor. You should look to educate as you implement. There are many potential hurdles to face, including internal politics and culture, and the unwillingness of managers to let go of their pet projects for a grander scheme. Departments may resist uniform practice. The list goes on.

However, a company aiming for more strategic management of projects through PPM can keep a few best practice issues front of mind to optimise the chances for success. These are the Who, Why, What, How and When factors.

Who: engaging the right people

  • Senior management and executive buy-in is absolutely critical
  • Create awareness, provide support, build consensus and motivate stakeholders at all levels

Why: identifying the pain and calculating the ROI

  • Sell PPM’s benefits
  • Conducting a health check will help build a Return on Investment (ROI) model
  • Give ownership to project stakeholders and executive sponsors

What: selecting the right tools

  • Consider how the tools integrate with the rest of the business from both a
  • •cultural and technical view point
  • Avoid a ‘rip-and-replace’ tool-set
  • Opt for configuration instead of customisation

How: testing the tools and processes

  • Sell PPM’s benefits via a Health check and Proof of Benefit
  • Make PPM a tactical sell and scale accordingly
  • Be sure to communicate the Return on Investment and Return on Opportunity (ROO)

When: avoiding a ‘big bang’ deployment

Opt for a phased, incremental implementation where the business can solve problems on a domain-by-domain level, giving yourself time to understand the change management issues. Avoid the bottom up trap. Execution led PPM implementations are extremely complex and extremely prone to failure. By adopting a strategy led approach you can reduce complexity and deliver instant benefits.

PPM has huge potential for bringing strategic coherence and better financial performance to enterprise-level project planning, selection and management. But like any change, too much of a shock to the system can eclipse the benefits far before they manifest. The Who, Why, What, How and When are a good place to start when asking the question, “How do we make this work?”