Tenet #6: Use visual analysis.
In last week’s blog, I wrote about the crucial need to balance your project portfolio along many dimensions, in careful alignment with top leadership in your firm. While this seems like common sense, many firms do not take the time to explicitly call out specific areas to balance, and gain clear guidance from top management to help in PPM decision-making.
In this blog, I would like to turn our attention to what seems to be a more tactical subject – that of using visual tools to both analyze for decision-making, and for use in communication to others. While this tenet may seem like a tactical detail, I believe it is essential enough to rise to one of my ten tenets of PPM. While I have seen attempts (and failures) at PPM in other ways, I believe strongly that the only practical way to pull out the key information necessary for these tough decisions is through visual analysis using pictures and graphs. From my experience, the primary use of tables of numbers will cause the team stray from the main strategic questions and to degenerate into a group discussing and questioning the specific numbers. Cutting the data in key ways will reveal critical data that speak to the firms most vital issues.
Tenet #5: Balance goals.
In last week’s blog, the essential nature of uncertainty analysis in the PPM process was shown. While few companies are well practiced in uncertainty analysis, the use of uncertainties in PPM discussions can illuminate decision-making and prevent many ills that are often taken as “necessary evils” in product development. In this week’s blog, we will address the need to balance many goals through the PPM process, and speak specifically about some of these goals.
Every firm tries to balance a set of conflicting goals in its efforts to maximize stake-holder value. And each firm will choose a different balance based on many things such as the maturity of the industry, the nature of their customers and of their stake-holders, the general philosophies of the management team, the current economic climate both in and outside the company, the competitive landscape, and so much more. One firm’s risk-averse nature may be very appropriate for the setting where another’s high risk approach may be called for in a different setting.
The PPM process is that place where this balancing act is most active and essential. The PPM process is the bridge between the theoretical strategic discussions and the daily activities that are necessary to execute the plan. In the PPM team, real balancing takes place as the team struggles with such decisions as accepting new projects in the portfolio, cancelling projects that have become either ineffective or no longer support the strategy, and making tactical changes to resources to further the highest priority projects. The PPM process is that place where the conflicting goals of the organization meet the realities of implementation, and a balanced portfolio is the ideal output.