Thursday, September 29, 2011

Key Components of Enterprise Portfolio Management

When organizations grow in business complexity in terms of products and services they offer, the senior management is always concerned with if resources are being effectively used and if the stakeholders (internal as well as external) are getting the right returns on their investments. Hence in the market lots of software products that do multi-portfolio management of projects and programs. Most of the products out their aim at managing the project life cycles but a true EPM will take into consideration the entire top-down planning approach to include strategic planning, investment analysis, capacity planning and tune it with the components of Demand & Change management in lieu of projects that are being executed. They also thus take into account resource management and pop in the dashboard metrics related to them with the monies or finances being allocated and thus incorporating or integrating components of Financial management.

Strategic Planning in management of enterprise portfolios entails about how mission and objectives align with the strategies and tactics employed in execution of projects. A true EPM will thus allow to manage trade-offs before taking or executing that strategic path, allow for accurate assessment of allocation of funding and staffing and most importantly employ strategy that covers the entire business continuum plans.

Investment models within portfolios then make it simple if employed correctly within EPM to identify the risks associated, calculate the cost, evaluate the value variances, and give clues how best to optimize the project investments, balance innovations to sustain business continuum processes.

This then from a operational point of view helps in portfolio management to plan for capacity where demands of the business and resources are matched to support the key business strategies. A EPM software will thus give you an understanding where the resource are lacking, what is the excess capacity that can be transferred or reserved, and forecast resource capacity within the framework of roles and responsibilities of individuals on various teams at different times on various projects. Capacity planning is closely aligned with metrics that demand management cycles produce like number of work requests, status checks, incident and problem requests, mean time between failures, life cycle reviews etc.

At the granular level of EPM then is the ability to track projects, their scope, time lines and actual costs to the project value to the Enterprise. Tracking of project times against expenses, managing associated risks, and getting quick snapshot views of projects and their progress in lieu of organizational objectives.  The financial management and resource management are tied in closely  and portfolio manager can look in using the EPM software that link organizational financials to project plans and strategic initiatives to the final operational delivery of products, programs and services.  I personally haven't seen a EPM that gives clues or hints to what is the level of strategic alignment in terms of operational delivery of the four P's (programs, projects, plans and people) to overall strategy in a assigned % form even if there are lots of qualitative data involved.

Finally on my wish-list would be plug-ins for EPM's that will allow for high level integration with all office products and project management software's to give operational PM's up to date instructions and get up to date feedback on projects in action which in turn populate the EPM dashboard.


Sam Kurien

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Change Is the Only Constant

Everybody talks about "Change" and importance of "Change management" as the only "constant" with dynamics in the global economy changing rapidly. Global competition necessitates that traditional organizations service or product line models incorporate innovation for on-going differentiation.  However little is said about the Change Agent leaders who lead this change. One of our clients (I will not mention the name) is going through a change management process. My observations on this are little effort has been made by the leadership in understanding the business model of how and why the change needs to be done along the lines how to lead by participative trust. Instead the model of "divide and conquer" is assumed making the change management process a painful, chaotic and chasing after the wind affair.

I think the fair questions that a change management leader needs to ask before he embarks on one are:

  1. What are the main dimensions of innovation that can be brought before disrupting a business model holistically?
  2. How do I enable my organization to pursue business model innovation?
  3. How does the role of technology, software and people integrate in supporting my business transformation?
I feel answering those three questions goes in parallel with self introspection within the change leaders and may translate to something like:

  1. How am I contributing to build this organization and how can I involve the existing people so that growth takes place in them as well?
  2. How can I be innovative myself ...what the changes that I personally need to make before I dictate?
  3. How am I using technology, software and people skills to support my transformation in alignment with the business transformation?
 Circling back then on the innovation organization go through different models of business innovation to facilitate change this can be customer-centric, process innovation centric, or supply chain centric. In the past lot of emphasis has been given to customer centric innovation but management specialists have realized the internal stakeholders are also a type of customer who make up the organization and provide the services. If change is not accepted by the them, change management and change initiatives will fail, even if you alienate them or throw them out of the organization.

My suggestions are simple here:

  1. Understand why the change and outlay the metrics for transparent discussion
  2. Be the change first before you dictate change.  
  3. Involve everybody in the road map. This takes time but is very essential. There are proponents who may say we don't have that kind of time...but believe me if this is not done well ...we will be spending lot more time and resources fixing stuff. 
  4. Improve responsiveness and service with love and trust. (Boy this is a hard one!!) 
  5. Optimize pricing, think or creative sources of funding.
  6. Research, monitor and gather feedback, incorporate back the good and refine the process. 
Change is the only constant but how we manage this change will enable our constancy in the marketplace.


Sam Kurien

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