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Project Portfolio Management or Project Prioritization?

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May 14, 2014 4:09:00 PM

You’re the smart one. You’re in the PMO. You get to worry about the portfolio rather about a specific project. And to make an impact, you want to put in a shiny new project portfolio management tool – but is that the right fist step?

Project Prioritization is the Low Hanging FruitOne customer recently estimated that improving project prioritization within his organization delivered 75% of the value of PPM at just 10% of the cost. Even the child in this photo (my son when he was 1 year old) knows that going for low-hanging fruit, like this, makes sense.

PPM – The Emphasis and Barriers

There are many vendors in the market and they each have a different emphasis. They pretty much all focus, however, on providing governance and oversight of your portfolio of projects, project dashboards and project management tools.

This is all very worthy, but it takes a lot of work. You have to get everyone onto the same platform, train them to use the product and migrate all your data into the new PPM platform. The bill for all of this, once you account for training time, etc., can easily be well into six-figure territory.

What you get in return is a clear view of which projects are progressing well and which aren’t. You get to plan centrally, taking account of the competition for scarce expertise / resources. You get… to chase all your PMs every week ensure they update the system.

BUT – getting early warning of failing projects is massively valuable.

Project Prioritization – A Quick Win

A few PPM systems include a prioritization module. In fact, a number of customers discovered TransparentChoice because one of the large PPM vendors showed them their product and the bit that resonated well was project prioritization… so they bought just that bit… from us.

So what’s the deal with project prioritization? Well, the bottom line is that most organizations do prioritization badly and that means you’re working on the wrong projects. Even if you execute perfectly, you’ll still have executed the wrong thing which is a waste / missed opportunity.

It’s pretty easy to spot when you’re not prioritizing properly. And it costs big money - most organizations under-delivering on their project portfolio by at least 25%.

So, it’s vital to sort out your prioritization problem before you worry about implementing full-on PPM. And picking the right projects delivers huge value on its own, even without moving on to PPM. One customer, Energinet who spends about €20m a year on IT projects, reckons that better project prioritization “will create millions of Euros of value…with virtually no lead time and the cost was low.”

And there’s more good news: it only costs a few thousand dollars. Not $200,000. Not $100,000. No, just a few thousand dollars.

That’s why tackling project prioritization is such a quick win.

Project Prioritization or Project Portfolio Management?

Okay, so every PPM vendor is probably Googling me to try and find where I live… so they can send the hit man around. But that’s really not necessary: it’s not a question of one or the other.

No, what I’m talking about is picking off the quickest win first – improved prioritization – and then moving on to full PPM. If your portfolio is big enough for you to be considering full-on project portfolio management, then you’ll still have a strong business case for PPM… Project prioritization completes the PPM offering, and doing the prioritization first is simply a question of correct sequencing.

To get started, I’d recommend downloading our free project prioritization business case template. If it turns out that prioritization is right for you, you can have it implemented before you’ve even secured the (six figure) budget for PPM!

What are you waiting for?

How to improve project success rates.