10 challenges in adopting project portfolio management

Portfolio management is an approach used by organizations to centralize the methodologies, processes, and techniques used by their project management teams and create shared enterprise-wide project management.

Central PPM Management of the many projects Benefits to the institutionincluding making better decisions on evaluating and prioritizing proposed projects, improved visibility into the status of all projects across the organization and faster delivery of ultimately the most profitable projects.

Top challenges for successful PPM adoption

Given these benefits, it is not surprising that research indicates increased investment in the PPM major. According to research from SkyQuesta market intelligence company, the PPM market size was $6.3 billion in 2021 but is expected to reach $11.4 billion by 2028, at a CAGR of 11.37% over that time period.

However, a centralized approach to project management is difficult to implement, and many organizations struggle to implement PPM, according to Karen Willow, senior sourcing consultant at management consulting firm Swingtide.

Here are 10 challenges that could turn the PPM initiative upside down.

Headshot of Sameer Dat, Global Leader, Technology Strategy and Operations, ProtivitySameer Dat

1. Lack of a well-defined or universally agreed-upon strategy

Implementing and operating a PPM requires a vision of what this approach will do for your organization and identifying the tools and technologies needed to enable that vision, said Samir Datt, global head of technology and operations strategy at global consulting firm Protiviti.

But instead of defining the best methodologies, processes and PPM software To adopt them going forward, organization leaders often turn to “the loudest voice or the most important person in the room, and that may or may not be appropriate,” Datt said.

2. There are no specific goals and objectives

Developing a vision is important, but PPM adoption can also falter if that vision is too broad and lacks specific achievable goals, said Bob Dotel, chief commercial officer at UST, a digital transformation services firm.

Head shot by Bob Dutel, chief commercial officer, USTBob Dotel

Dutile said organizations that define and articulate what they want to get from PPM certification are in a better position to create and implement a management program that meets their needs.

“You need to be clear about what you want to get out of managing your portfolio,” he said. “If you just want better reporting — and there’s nothing wrong with just wanting to report clearly — focus on that.” Or, if it is about managing a constraint like talent, the focus should be on investing first in processes and tools that address that problem.

Header shot of Karen Willow, Senior Sourcing Consultant, SwingtideKaren Willow

3. Inability to activate and scale

Developing a vision to centralize projects within a portfolio and managing them from the central platform of PPM is a start. As difficult as that may be, Karen Willow, senior sourcing advisor at management consulting firm Swingtide, said putting that vision into action and then scaling it up — that is, providing the resources to make it happen — is just as big if not. The biggest challenge for the successful adoption of PPM.

4. Lack of resources for the PPM initiative

On a related note, the project experts also cited the lack of adequate funding for project management approval and implementation as one of the major challenges. Of course, organizations should not spend unlimited dollars on this endeavor, but they should be realistic about how much they need to spend to achieve their goals and then commit to the required dollars.

You need to be clear about what you want to get out of managing your portfolio. If you just want better reporting—and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to report clearly—focus on that.

Bob DotelChief Commercial Officer, UST

5. Lack of executive support

Creating and implementing a vision for PPM as well as defining required policies, procedures and tools are important undertakings.

They need executive support to succeed, said Datt, explaining that executives must send the message that project managers and project teams are expected to work within the PPM function and follow the standards and governance it defines.

Such support brings the entire organization on board; The lack of it may tempt some project managers to follow their own paths.

6. Not doing everything

Some organizations struggle when adopting PPM because they fail to fully implement and enforce the governance, methodologies, standards, and technologies needed for success.

“We see a lot of half-baked applications,” Datt said.

To avoid this, Datt said PPM leaders should focus on networking and training project managers to ensure they all understand and are skilled in the methods, processes, and software that PPM sets as standards for the organization.

7. Failure to decide on the extent to which project management is centralized

PPM does centralize some elements, such as governance, but it also allows individual teams to make their own decisions on some matters.

What to centralize and what to leave decentralized should be a strategic decision, Willow said, not something left to chance.

Organizations that don’t take action and decide which elements will be central and which parts won’t often cause confusion that limits the returns they see on their PPM efforts.

8. The opposition

Some project management leaders will have vocal opposition to adopting PPM.

“People aren’t always willing to put in PPM,” Willow said. Some oppose the move because “it means that those who run rogues or those who do things differently from one department to another will now see this centralized with rules, methods, and tools that may be different from what they want.”

PPM supporters should have a strategy to counter such opposition, and build on things like the management of change (See Challenge #9) and executive support for engaging opponents.

9. There is no change management component

Like all other organizational changes, the adoption of project portfolio management means that some employees will have to work in new ways. As such, Datt said it is imperative that project management leaders implement a change management strategy to get everyone ready to work the new way.

In fact, skipping the change management component may lead to a transition to PPM, as employees often don’t navigate the new ways of working on their own.

10. The immaturity of the PPM function

The PPM is not a set-it-and-forget-it exercise.

Rather, it requires commitment Continuous improvement.

Experts said that organizations with a well-functioning PPM software not only improve how individual projects are run, they become more efficient at managing the entire project portfolio. They do this by focusing on continuous improvement exercises, such as looking for opportunities to automate processes and applying lessons learned.

“You have to get some basic capabilities and then focus on improving over time,” said Datt. “You have to think about it in terms of maturity.” “It sounds cliché, but ‘it’s a journey’ applies here. Have a roadmap of temporary benefits that you can validate, connect, and realize. And commit to moving forward.”

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