With the new methodology and solution, the PMT was able to meet aggressive time lines for developing a cross-prioritized project list in time for the 2004 planning cycle. More important, the team was able to cut out over 80,000 hours of demand from an initial portfolio of about 200,000 hours that were requested from the business executives. This 40 percent reduction allowed the PMT to balance resource capacity versus demand without adding head count, and resulted in a project portfolio that has a greater overall return on investment.

Since the initial successes in early 2004, PMT members have been more closely examining business cases and the anticipated contribution that their proposed projects will make. As a result, some project requests have been withdrawn prior to their ever being vetted by the PMT. In addition, they have embraced the project evaluation techniques and tool to the point where they are now actively scoring projects (with handheld transmitters) after the project's business case has been presented rather than having a portfolio analyst perform that function. This has enabled the PMT to discuss their different perspectives in real time, arrive at consensus, and accept full accountability for the portfolio and its associated outcomes.

In summary, the PPM capability is helping AOL align its portfolio to its strategy and return the company to growth. These are the lessons learned:

• Keep it simple. Early success is critical. Keeping new processes simple and easy to adopt will not only produce quick wins but will also build invaluable momentum for the rest of the journey.

• Make the establishment of a solid resource management capability a prerequisite. A portfolio management team needs to understand not just which projects to initiate but when to initiate them in order to ensure that the necessary resources are available to deliver.

• Build and sustain executive support. At the end of the day, project portfolio management changes the way a business does business. Without strong advocacy from top management, whose job responsibilities will also change, a PPM capability that is fully integrated into the business cannot be achieved.

Rich Dougherty joined Expert Choice in December 2001 and currently serves as the company's chief executive officer. He has also served as vice president of business development for Statusphere, an Internet services software firm and vice president of sales and marketing and a member of the executive team of FastTide. He earned a B.A. from the University of Virginia and an M.B.A. from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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