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IT Project Portfolio Management

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While consulting for a large company’s information technology (IT) department, I was asked to help find a way to better manage the various IT projects that were spread among all of its business units. The executives wanted me to research tools that would help them prioritize the projects so they would know which ones were healthy contributors to the corporate strategy and which ones could be axed. The market in which they were selling their products was slowing down, and they wanted to centralize corporate governance and trim unnecessary IT projects. Because they also knew that some IT projects were critical to the growth and ongoing operations of the company, they couldn’t simply eliminate a random sampling. Though we had experiences in IT program management and executive information systems (EISs), we had little experience in project portfolio management (PPM). After some research, we realized that implementing a project prioritization tool would be just the tip of the iceberg in providing a successful and lasting solution to their problem.

This was a very project-centric company with over 250 ongoing IT projects running at one time. The market was constantly forcing the product line to change. Such pressures to decrease the life cycle and increase the quality of their products directly affected how the executives wanted IT to improve the efficiencies of their units. This ultimately made the company a prime candidate to adopt IT project-centric management techniques. Combining such a need with the realization that the company had dispersed IT governance across all of the business units highlighted the notion that this initiative would be an organizational change exercise similar in scale to an enterprise resource planning (ERP) or customer resources management (CRM) implementation. As it turns out, the long-term solution to centralizing IT project control was too much of a bite for them to take at once—organizational change needed to come piecemeal if it was going to succeed.
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