Eric D. Brown, D.Sc.

Data Science | Entrepreneurship | ..and sometimes Photography

Tag: Project Portfolio Management

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 CIO.com 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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Project Selection using Decision Support & Optimization Techniques

This post is an excerpt (with slight modifications) of a recent paper titled “Project Selection using Decision Support Optimization Tools.” If you’d like to read the full paper, click here for the PDF version of Project Selection using Decision Support Optimization Tools.  The full version of the paper has full details of the LINGO model used for decision support and project selection optimization.

During good times and bad, selecting the proper projects to undertake is an extremely important activity for organizations.  Selecting the right projects  (or wrong ones) can be the difference between success and failure for most organizations.  The process of selecting projects and managing the project portfolio, formally called Project Portfolio Management, can help organizations get a grasp on their projects and the risk & benefits associated with those projects [1].

Project Portfolio management and selection has become an important part of most organization’s project management activities. By managing their project portfolio’s correctly, organizations can gather information about all projects, prioritize those projects and manage the selected projects throughout the project lifecycle.

The remainder of this paper provides an overview on project selection and describes a prototype system that can be used to optimize the selection of projects.  The project selection prototype uses optimization techniques to select the optimal number of projects based on given criteria.

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Strategic Project Management

This is an excerpt of a paper I wrote while working on my MBA. To read the entire article, download the PDF titled “Strategic Project Management.”

Strategic Project Management (SPM) (also called Enterprise Project Management by some) has been defined by Callahan & Brooks (2004) as

“the use of the appropriate project management knowledge, skills, tools and techniques in the context of the companies goals and objectives so that the project deliverables will contribute to company value in a way that can be measured” (Callahan & Brooks, 2004, p. 23).

They further describe SPM as

“a process that takes into account a company’s way of doing business, allowing for the possibility of a significant payoff with fewer risks” (Callahan & Brooks, p. 30).

The above definitions are good, but they do not convey the most important aspect of SPM, which is the fact that senior leadership needs to be involved in selecting, defining and prioritizing which projects are undertaken within the organization. Because of this, the following definition does a much better job of accurately defining SPM:

Strategic Project Management consists of selecting, managing and measuring project outcomes to ensure optimal value for an organization. All projects undertaken by an organization must meet a set of criteria setup by the organizations’ leadership to ensure alignment with the strategic vision of the organization.

Strategic Project Management is really nothing more than picking the right projects for the organization to ensure optimal returns. This sounds very simple and straightforward, but research shows that there are many organizations that have overlooked the important fact of aligning projects with corporate strategy.

References:
Callahan, K., & Brooks, L. (2004). Essentials of strategic project management. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

[tags] Strategic Project Management, Project Management, Consulting, Project Portfolio Management [/tags]

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