Why Do We Need Project Portfolio Management

Do traditional measures of project success miss the true business objectives? Scope, Time, Cost and Quality are only components of the objective, rather than independent measures of success.

Harvey Levine, June 2000

Could what I said five years ago be considered blasphemous? Imagine going against conventional wisdom at a time when project portfolio management (PPM) was just emerging as a body of thought. Project management was finally getting its well-deserved recognition, and everyone was focusing on spreading the gospel of bringing projects in on time, within budget, and meeting scope and quality objectives. Well, almost everyone.

Why would anyone want to shoot holes in the acceptance of project management? No one is suggesting that project management is wrong. However, limiting our focus to the critical measures of project success confuses the means to an end with the end itself.

Almost everything written about measurements of project success dwells on the four pillars of success: scope, time, cost, and quality. We have been taught to identify the goals for success in each of these areas and then to create plans that balance these objectives.

Then we implement practices and use computer-based tools to measure how well we are accomplishing these objectives. When we meet these objectives and satisfy the project stakeholders, we consider the project to have been successful.

However, most executives are not interested in these areas of measurement. Instead, they talk about profitability, return on investment, delivery of benefits, and taking advantage of windows of opportunity. We used to say that executives are interested in just two things about projects: when they will be finished and what they will cost. Not anymore. Now (in the for-profit arena) they ask:

• What mix of potential projects will provide the best utilization of human and cash resources to maximize long-range growth and return on investment for the firm?

• How do the projects support strategic initiatives?

• How will the projects affect the value of corporate shares (stock)?

Similar issues apply to the nonprofit and government operations where optimizing the use of limited funds and resources and support of missions and strategies is vital. While PPM can be effectively applied to both the public and private sectors, most of the examples in this book use a for-profit enterprise as the model. With minor adjustments, PPM can be adapted to nonprofit and government operations.

Perhaps this is an oversimplification. However, if we start with this premise and examine its meaning, we can begin to realize the tremendous impact of this observation on the way that we conduct project management and even in the way that we select and implement project management tools.

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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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