Two themes for Portfolio Agility

I have seen the future and it is agile. The agile I am talking about is not a tool, or methodology, or a movement. It is the outcome when Project Managers have discussions with Sponsors on how to go faster, or how to beat competitors, or how to win new business.

Portfolio management is listing, prioritizing, selecting, and controlling business ideas/investments in the context of the top success drivers and constraints affecting the business.

In my experience, many projects are handed to the Project Manager that have risks or budget or schedule issues that the PM can’t even quantify. Unfortunately, these very items are likely to be the root cause of missed expectations, budget overruns or schedule delays. Our challenge is to enter into an ongoing conversation to ensure the right investments are being made at the right time.

We need to develop and design a new way of thinking to respond to the needs of the business. Here are two themes to help support this change:

1. Focus on enhancing the collaboration and communication between the person managing the work (Project Manager) and the person who wants the work done (Sponsor).

  • Create visibility anytime and to any desired level of detail.
  • Speed everything up so that we can see business benefits/failures faster.

2. Gain trust by eliminating multiple sources of data/truth by bringing data integrity into the project and program environment.

  • Ensure culture is conducive to increased reporting.
  • Communicate better about those things that people care about.

I first head the following from an industry research analyst, “We need better brakes … so we can go faster”. How true! By investing in portfolio management skills and tools to improve communication and data quality, the organizations we support will have improved agility to amplify successes and reallocate resources from underperforming projects.

Get me a good Project Manager

We all hear it.

“We need someone who gets it.”

What is it? How do I get some?

Do I read and follow the  Project Management Institute’s recently published fourth update to the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK)?

What about Agile, ITIL (Information Technology Information Library), PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) and all the other approaches to managing change?

For what it’s worth, I think they all work. And I don’t have any concerns that someone from PMI headquarters is going to trot out and rescind my PMP designation if I make that claim. In fact, as a Project Manager, I learn from PMBOK that it is my responsibility to apply the appropriate methodology and tools given the needs of the project. Let’s face it – greater folks than I have observed “there is nothing new under the sun”. All methodologies are trying to facilitate a change from current state to future state. If we choose our tools and methodologies appropriately and according to the circumstances, it is really much more important that we agree on the approach, rather then which model we have chosen.

So what are the non-negotiables for a Project Manager to be considered succesful and prove that they get it? I have five must-haves that I just can’t live without. Will review them next post.