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The Tri-Modal Reality

Gaining visibility across all project execution

Today’s work is executed using traditional, Agile, and back-of-the-napkin approaches, so PMOs must provide top-down governance & control to gain a 360°view across all work and allow teams to work in their tool of choice. That’s the Tri-Modal Reality.

The Tri-Modal Reality of work management

Most organizations now manage work using multiple methodologies. Forcing everyone to work in the same style is not the answer. Some initiatives are just better suited to agile, some to traditional methods, and some with ad hoc approaches. What’s really needed is a common language across all those methods to integrate information in a way that makes sense.

Regardless of what tools used to execute work, a common language is needed to align all execution with strategy.

Understand the impact of all work without disrupting the work itself


The trick is to integrate all frontline work delivery tools with a solution that consolidates and presents all value information at the portfolio level, regardless of source. Leaders aren’t interested in what execution tools are used. In an ideal world, teams should be able to choose whatever tools and work styles they prefer. What’s needed is a standard platform to consolidate and translate the information from all of those tools that then present the right information to the right stakeholders to help them make decisions decisively and with confidence.

Execute however you want, but don’t forget to deliver insight

Connecting work delivery tools with strategic portfolio management (SPM) capabilities doesn’t just drive better decisions at the strategic, leadership level. It also allows delivery teams to understand how their work supports the strategic goals and objectives, driving an improved context for their efforts, driving engagement and improving performance.

Adopting better tools and a different mindset

Addressing the tri-modal reality requires both the right tools and the right mindset. SPM requires the right focus – on connecting strategy with execution, and the right tools to allow that to happen. But it also requires everyone in your business to recognize that the work they are doing is contributing to the success – or failure – of your business.

Teams should be free to find the most effective and efficient way of delivering work at the frontlines. But when they also understand not just what they have to do, but also why it is important, their effectiveness and efficiency improves dramatically. It is enhanced even further when they feel that they have the freedom to make decisions designed to keep the solutions they are developing aligned with the business outcomes they are trying to enable.

No matter which combination of these approaches to execution are used, strategic portfolio management is the key to bringing them all together:

Traditional Waterfall Mode

The Waterfall method is a traditional linear approach to project management. Each phase in the project is worked on sequentially to completion before moving on to the next phase. This is historically the most common approach in most organizations. 

Agile Mode

Agile is a more recently developed form of work management. It uses an iterative approach that breaks down the project into shorter sprints that are worked on simultaneously. There are many frameworks, or flavors, of Agile project management, including Scrum, Kanban, Lean and more. 

Lightweight Work Management

Traditional and Agile camps make most of the noise, but there’s a myriad of other adaptive project management approaches that we’ll call Back-of-the-Napkin. A list on a whiteboard, an excel spreadsheet, lightweight project tracking software and countless collaborative tools all can be used in conjunction with more formalized approaches.

Standardized, 360° view across all work aligns all execution & strategy

Projects across the enterprise being executed using multiple tools and methodologies need to be integrated with PPM and other enterprise systems as much as possible to ensure that the organization has a top-down, 360° view of all work. Which means you need to standardize with the right top-down controls across all work that give everyone the insight they need without impacting the teams working in their tool of choice.

Manage Work Effectively, Regardless of How it’s Executed

New tools are needed to deliver those missing portfolio management capabilities – seamlessly integrating standardization across whichever combination of execution tools teams decide to use. This provides Portfolio Managers with a more effective command center that enables them to manage all work – regardless of how it is executed – while providing the right governance, information and analysis the senior leadership requires. Best of all, the teams doing the work retain the flexibility and autonomy they need to execute in their methodology and tool of choice.