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Gartner advises organizations to adopt Strategic Portfolio Management processes and technology

Written by Ben Chamberlain on September 23rd, 2020 at 9:56 am

A recent Gartner report offers insight into the evolving nature of PPM and the tools that program and portfolio management leaders need to effectively manage all work. This report is especially poignant to those who are tasked with driving digital transformation while also grappling with the associated challenges of managing work across a variety of tools and work styles.

Driving transformation means moving beyond traditional project management

The essence of Gartner’s message is that organizations must start to think of the tools and processes they use to manage work as two parts of a whole. One part is what Gartner now refers to as adaptive project management, which is a set of behaviors and supporting technologies to help streamline all the details of project and work execution activities. It’s a clear acknowledgement that a mix of traditional PPM, Agile and back-of-the-napkin tools and processes exist and are used at the same time by teams across most organizations, something that UMT360 calls the Tri-Modal reality.

Strategic Portfolio Management is the missing piece

The other technology that Gartner is now emphasizing is strategic portfolio management, a set of capabilities and processes that enable an organization to clearly define key business strategies and desired business outcomes across all execution. While Gartner sees a bifurcation between these two distinct sets of technologies, in order to be effective, the two must act in concert, with adaptive PM enabling bottom-up execution while strategic portfolio management provides the top-down controls.

Connecting multiple adaptive PM and reporting tools to a common SPM technology provides the portfolio visibility needed to more effectively manage execution across the enterprise.

Integrating the right SPM controls with bottom-up adaptive project management is key

UMT360 does agree with Gartner that no single solution – despite the many claims from technology providers – can provide both sets of capabilities. Indeed, UMT360’s position is that the teams executing the work – whether they use traditional PPM, Agile or some combination – must be allowed and enabled to use the tools and methods of their choice. To that end, any strategic portfolio management solution the organization decides to use in conjunction with its adaptive PM tools and processes must not interfere with the preferred manner of execution.

Integrating SPM with adaptive project management

More and more enterprises are recognizing SPM as a critical set of capabilities, and are building adaptive strategy-to-execution mechanisms to be successful. Many are building strategy realization offices (SROs) or enterprise portfolio management offices (EPMOs) to help them carry their SPM capabilities forward and leverage adaptive governance and enterprise-wide program and portfolio management.

The key to successfully adopting SPM and leveraging its capabilities to more effectively drive transformation is to recognize and accept that a combination of waterfall, Agile, and back-of-the-napkin project execution methodologies across the enterprise. But it’s also critical to understand that no initiative, no matter how it’s executed, exists in a vacuum. Projects and programs are funded for only one reason – to transform the capabilities, products and services that enable an organization to deliver value to customers. PMO, Finance, Business & IT leaders must master both Strategy Planning & Execution. This requires the right products and expertise to effectively integrate strategic portfolio management controls with bottom up adaptive project management techniques.

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