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It’s time to go beyond – far beyond…

Written by Ben Chamberlain on April 28th, 2021 at 1:46 pm

Click here to read the previous post in this series, or start from the beginning

We’ve spent a lot of time in this series of blog posts looking at different elements – the imperatives – that are driving the need for Strategic Portfolio Management (SPM).  Because we believe that mastering these seemingly disparate elements is the key building a successful business.  But there’s another question, one that we’ve touched on occasionally in these posts, that eventually must be addressed. What’s next after mastering projects?

Because there’s so much more to discuss than just project type work.  Sure, that’s the focus of a lot of your strategic and planning efforts.  You determine how to invest your discretionary spend each year and then you need to do everything you can to ensure those investments generate the best possible return.  Many organizations spend a tremendous amount of time and effort refining their portfolio planning and execution processes, and that does help.

Breaking down the silos

But those discretionary investments don’t exist in isolation, and they certainly aren’t the only way your organization succeeds.  All of the projects, initiatives, epics or other such work items only exist to improve your products, services, capabilities and technologies in order to drive your overall success in line with your strategies.  Unless you understand and manage that dynamic and relationship, you’ll fail to develop a 360-degree view of your business and you’ll underperform.

Powerful and interactive roadmaps are just one of the tools you’ll need to move beyond simple project management, and model the effect of any portfolio change and quickly sort through a myriad of actions and decisions.

If you are to successfully transform your business, to deliver the kind of enterprise-wide performance you need to excel, you need to manage all portfolios – all assets.  You need to be able to break down the traditional siloes that act as barriers for your different portfolios.  You need to understand, integrate and manage the dependencies that exist across those siloes and portfolios.  Only then can you develop accurate and complete visual roadmaps to show and guide all activities across all work types and business areas.  And only then can you quickly understand and control the upstream and downstream implications of every action or decision.

Transforming the transformers

This is going to require some of that transformation that you are trying to deliver.  You need to permanently break down the siloes that still define your business and create an integrated business where everyone is able to contribute with full visibility into all the information relevant to them.  You cannot expect to deliver a digital transformation that is as effective as possible if your key contributors are contained within the siloes of their own business area, restricted in their ability to influence and drive change.

It’s critical to be able to model the impact of any change to your portfolios using a top-down approach designed to drive transformation and not simply react as realities change.

When we looked at strategic planning, we considered the importance of evolving from a project driven environment to a capability driven one.  That capability-based performance model allows organizations to develop this integrated approach to all work across all business areas.  It helps develop the strong foundation that a successful business transformation can be built on and ensures that all work is driven directly from strategy – a top-down approach that maintains focus where it is needed rather than a bottom-up process of work definition where alignment is forced after the fact – the common story in a project-driven world.

It all comes down to aligning execution with strategy

Creating a truly integrated business where everything is managed as part of the whole requires everyone in your business to be aligned in what they do, how they do it, and the value they are delivering, and that’s the bottom line for SPM.  One direction, one set of goals, and everyone focused on delivering.

With the right tools, you can move beyond just managing projects and decompose strategy into the right initiatives needed to drive transformation across the enterprise.

Your single set of strategies drives demand that is prioritized across all business areas, all resources and all work types.  The initiatives that are ultimately funded deliver projects, products and capabilities and are all managed as part of a single pursuit of value.  That value is managed through effective and relevant metrics that ensure your strategies are driving the results that are expected and that your business is transforming in the way it needs.

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