Communicating IT’s value using Project Portfolio Management

An article titled “How I Used Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Software to Prevent IT Staff Cuts” on that describes using Project Portfolio Management (PPM) tools to communicate the value of IT.

The CIO article describes the use of PPM tools by Robert Biles to show his leadership what his team does and how they are doing it.   Like many IT groups, Biles had been understaffed due to previous budget cuts and had been asked to cut yet another developer from his staff.

During a conversation with his senior leadership team, the following exchange took place:

“They ask me, ‘How many people do you have supporting a building application?’ I say, ‘three’,” he says, describing his conversations with the budget office. “They say, ‘We think you can get by with one [developer] because the application is vendor-supported. Why do you need three people in-house to support it when we’re paying vendors to do so.”

My first response to this type of conversation that the senior leaders have no idea what Biles’ team does and how they do it.

Biles decided to start using PPM tools to really show the value of his team.  The results?  See below.

…he’s shown the budget office that his group only spends about 15 percent of its time coding. They spend the rest of their time working with users to spec out requirements for applications, testing applications they write themselves or purchase from vendors, and deploying, supporting and enhancing those applications.

By showing the budget office that his development group does much more than just code, Biles has made the budget office realize developers aren’t so easy to cut.

Emphasis mine.

Interesting stuff right?  I think so…hope you do to 🙂

The above story is all too common.  Business leadership has no idea what IT really does.  IT leadership tries to explain what their teams do but they usually do so in a non-granular way (e.g., IT operations, Network Security, Development, etc).

When a CEO or CFO sees ’16 developers’, they start thinking about why they need sixteen people doing development. What they fail to see is that the amount of work is enough to keep 32 developers busy, full-time.

IT leaders need to look at ways to provide more data to business leaders to understand how value the IT team brings to the organization.

The use of Project Portfolio Management tools is a good tool to use for this purpose…as long as it is used in such a way as to not interfere with the day-to-day jobs of the individual within the IT group.

Anyone out there using PPM tools for this purpose?  I’d love to see some real-world examples of success and/or failure using these tools.

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