Statement

"How can we make decisions with incomplete information?"

Who Says. A PPM governing body member.

Interpretation. PPM governing body members typically need three things in order to commit to a result:

• They need to agree on the criteria that will be used to rank, select, and prioritize projects.

• They need to have clear descriptive information about the projects (for example, the business case, a system description, a project manager).

• They need to have a mechanism for applying criteria to create project rankings.

The criteria should be top down in nature, deriving from highlevel performance goals in the organization. The descriptive information should be thorough, listing key stakeholders and other pertinent data that allow the PPM governing body members to understand the nature of the project. The ranking mechanism should be statistically sound and defensible and include an opportunity for open conversation that provides a forum for expression of the collective experience of the group. No forward progress can occur until these needs are satisfied.

Solution. The governing body and its sponsors are chartered to make top-down decisions about what the organization should do to meet strategic objectives. If the information is incomplete, make and document assumptions in order to move ahead. Then reconcile this plan with bottom-up data. Some projects achieve in- or out-plan status fairly clearly, while more complete information or fine-tuning may be required on a few questionable projects. Then engage in dialogue or request more information. The governing body, collectively rather than individually, moves ahead to make informed decisions with the information available. Track all decisions and supporting information in a PPM database and appropriate reporting formats. Use the database for scoring projects.

Benefit. The quality of dialogue improves because a forum exists for it to happen in a disciplined manner. People learn that they know more than they thought they did and keep learning better ways to improve business and project performance. The governing body realizes also that they need not do detailed allocation of skill sets across projects. Their role is to perform higher-level project selection, while line managers assign people to projects. Through better understanding of projects, the governing body is able to defend its decisions.

How Implemented

• Identify high-level criteria through interviews with the governing body and its sponsors.

• Identify pertinent descriptive information through interviews with project managers and business representatives.

• Create a tracking system that captures and reports both of the above areas of information.

• Develop and apply a process that integrates all data and includes free-form discussion to create a prioritized list of projects.

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