The Ultimate Guide to Project Prioritization: Goals, Metrics, Tools, and Techniques
We use the PPM term loosely, not even thinking of what it means. This is not just a term to describe the intricate process of managing the interrelated, dependent, and—to be frank—often-confusing mix of inter-connected projects. PPM is much more. It is all about the bigger picture, the moving forward, the process of growing your business without loss of qualities that made this business prosper in the first place. The task of monitoring and managing several projects grouped together (past, present, and future), prioritizing and sequencing them to maximize the ROI, and building a legacy at the same time–that is what PPM stands for.
While the outsider might perceive PPM as managing separate projects as independent units, the truth is that in a non-movie kind of business, projects are rarely worked out in isolation. In reality, they have to be interconnected to work as a system. The level of project manager’s experience is defined by how much – by budget, timeline, resources, etc. Exactly “how” we prioritize the mix of connection points and consequently the projects themselves, define the success across the whole project map you’ve got. And that’s what Project Portfolio Management is all about.
The Beginner’s Guide to Project Portfolio Management
Imagine you’ve got 50 projects in progress. They are all overlapping. Some of them are using the same resources; some of them are still here from the days of yore; and some are here to keep the lights on. Others are the promise of a better future for your business, the prospect of awards or pure innovation. And your executive or your project manager has to make right decisions on what to focus your teams and their projects on. So, how do you know if this is a good idea, what projects should be prioritized right now, how can the resources be used most efficiently? Even more importantly, how can you manage these projects so that they run concurrently and profitably?
PPM is mostly used to identify the potential of a project and facilitate its completion according to a forecasted baseline and scope. It is like a self-fulfilling cue card that makes it possible to forecast risks and make an informed decision when it comes to investing in a new business. However, it can also be used beyond that. It can be a tool to facilitate team communication, create visibility and transparency in an enterprise, and ensure that all parties involved, including stakeholders, are on the same page. When executed properly, PPM is also a tool for enabling various stakeholders, clients, and executives to see the bigger picture, get consistent feedback as well as understand, manage, and mitigate risks. It is a magic wand to minimize internal discord by enhancing governance and accountability.
What are the objectives and key components of project portfolio management?
The primary objective of PPM necessarily involves selecting only those projects that offer the right value, taking the right amount of the resources needed as well as the strategic fit within the company’s overall strategy. By establishing an optimal mix of projects, PPM ensures a company is better equipped to achieve its operational and financial goals. The portfolio management process usually involves a “secret recipe” for success.
Luckily, in 2018, some tools make the whole thing as friendly as possible. Here is the step-by-step guide for PPM magic, made user-friendly and intuitive. PPM Express is a project portfolio management tool that helps you view the organization as a whole, using all project details and information to make strategic decisions. It is a lightweight software that is both easy to use and effective on any scale–small, medium, and large business entities will benefit from adopting it. So, what can this solution do for you regarding the automation of your portfolio management efforts?
- Create an inventory and establish a strategy
Identify all the projects in the works, categorize them, taking into account your company’s strategic goals, and determine whether these projects (which ones) support those objectives.
Analyze the current strengths and weaknesses of your project portfolio. Evaluate each project individually–project milestones, potential ROI, reporting schedule, and resource allocation. It is also customary to organize the portfolio by category, which can be anything you consider necessary for success. However, generally, those include completed and canceled projects, growth and survival categories. While categorizing, you should ask questions that can reveal whether there is duplication or whether some existing projects might not be better combined for the sake of efficiency or even halted completely.
You should also assess the overall risk of the project portfolio as a whole by comparing the probability of technical success against the anticipated benefit from the project. Mixing and matching projects for more efficiency is always the best policy.
- Ensure alignment
With PPM Express, you can perform an alignment analysis to reveal whether your resources are working on critical projects. Are they aligned with your strategic initiatives and should you carry on with them? Some of the guiding principles of this selection include:
- The degree of the strategic fit between the portfolio and the company;
- The indicators of distribution of projects, including the number and nature of the projects;
- The probability that the end-product will deliver the return expected;
- An evaluation of associated risks.
- Monitor execution
The best thing is that you can manage all the aspects of the process in one dashboard. You can not only view the project portfolio but also reallocate budgets and resources, reprioritize based on information you uncovered, reschedule projects, and more. You can adapt and make changes as you go–test different budgeting models, scheduling, account for time/labor indicators, etc. Obviously, collaboration is critical when it comes to decision making. Yet again, PPM Express allows for the best level of transparency and collaboration within the team.
How to achieve project portfolio management success?
The awesome thing about using hi-end tech for your business is that the “make it all work button” is real by now. In other words, once your portfolio has been sorted out, you’re free to check the progress, reporting to executives and stakeholders whenever necessary. Set up weekly/monthly automatic reports. Too good to be true? Well, there’s a couple of tricks in the PPM Express toolkit designed to make it even better.
Accurate identification of risks and associated remediation strategies is critical and should be prioritized so we have a way to notice trouble before it starts. Do not be afraid to cancel projects if they no longer align with the company’s strategy. Have a way to convey your suspicions and show the reason for them in one click and speed up the decision-making process. Enable all your teams to align execution with business strategy with data availability and an easy-to-use dashboard.
Simplify time and task management for project team members, ensuring they have the freedom and flexibility to capture task and time data as necessary thanks to multiple integrations of the platform with Office 365 Planner, VSTS, JIRA, Microsoft Project Online, etc. Accurate data is critical and should be prioritized. Easy access to all the data in one place minimizes the chance of fatal delays in the decision-making ability. Choosing the right project portfolio management software and tools is often the key to a successful PPM. When choosing “just the right toolkit,” keep these questions in mind:
- What do I need this for?
- Do I want my PPM toolkit to be web-based or not?
- How many people will be using this software?
- Is this software friendly to employees and clients equally?
- Do I care about the user experience?
Those are the questions our clients had when dealing with the choice. So, we’ve decided to use them—as an R&D for PPM Express design—to give our clients a head start. If you’re in the market for a PPM management solution, you should use them as a basic outline of what tools you’ll be needing. We find it best to make an informed decision!