All I need is a PPM tool and a PMO, right?

PPM Tool

All of us work in organisations that have resources deployed to deliver our mission – be that delivering construction projects, developing software, providing education services – all sorts. Some are delivered as services, some as projects, some as assets or products. None of us can stand still. We are all driven to do more with less, or innovate to stay competitive.

While many of our organisations are set up to “run the business”, fewer are really all that enabled for “change the business” fewer still integrated across “run” and “change”.

The Core P3M Data Club has created a data model to enable main boards, portfolio, programmes, projects, finance, management teams, support and assurance to work together. This is supported by an approach to Business Integrated Governance (BIG) that harmonises our operating cycles to ensure that “run” and “change” are balanced.


PPM Tool


What are the key drivers that would cause an organisation to adopt Business Integrated Governance and what would that vision look like? Do I need anything more than a PPM tool and a PMO? Here are just some of the key issues for different groups:

  • Main Board – feeling it is ‘flying blind’, losing confidence that strategic instructions are effectively tasking the business or that progress is being made against the right priorities and desired outcomes.
  • Portfolio groups – becoming disconnected from leadership priority changes, thereby introducing lack of alignment between strategic objectives and (less clearly) related Project outputs. Becoming frustrated with task orientated, historically focused progress making it difficult to forecast objective attainment. Lack of independent assurance to keep teams ‘honest’.
  • Project and programme leaders – becoming frustrated using ineffective methods/tools. Struggling to acquire/retain resources at the right time. Carrying a painful administration overhead to compile an imperfect picture from disparate data available in pre-defined ‘one size fits all’ templates. Manually feeding data into different reports for different stakeholders.
  • Sponsors – not being able to access confident and clear answers on forecast project/programme outcomes against strategic objectives (that themselves may be unclear and change)
  • Management teams – struggling to balance Business as Usual work with shifting needs from projects. They can struggle to realise benefits from changes ‘thrown over the wall’. Suffer as centrally imposed methods/tools are not appropriate for their needs.
  • Commercial and Finance Teams – find it difficult to support parochial performance models, to resource unpredicted finance expertise needs, and to support effective investment appraisal/outcome measurement
  • Assurance/Support function – struggles to attain effectiveness and efficiency with multiple tools/operations and may try to force ‘one size fits all’ which makes logical sense but is practically unfeasible. Also sometimes focusing on the wrong issues.

These issues can prove costly for organisations not simply as a pure expense but because of inadequate agility and the lack of a single version of the truth causing wasteful duplication of work.

Thankfully, recent advances in method, governance, support and technology have provided means to address these issues more easily than could have been achieved 2-3 years ago.

The solution, therefore, must contain a PPM tool and a PMO:

  • Fit for purpose support, tooling and methods to enable project and programme delivery, with focus on forward looking data and information for decision making

But – there is far more needed, and this a far beyond the typical PMO or PPM solution:

  • Engagement with main board to connect its opportunities, threats, imperatives and goals with enabling Objectives, Targets and Challenges owned and directed by portfolio and operations groups.
  • Definition of the portfolio level to maintain the connection between strategy and delivery, and to enable the balance of finance/resources across BAU and change.
  • Empowered and enabled sponsors who can hold people responsible and at the same time be held to account
  • Management teams who can balance resourcing their operation with providing people to support strategic project delivery and benefit realisation.
  • Commercial and finance teams who can support investment appraisal, set up status data mechanisms and support ongoing performance management easily and simply, and in harmony with BAU and Change
  • Support and assurance operations that are sized correctly, clear in their service levels and effective at enabling the governance operation and scrutiny/oversight.

These are often matters beyond a PMO, and need Director level leadership to address.

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