3 min read

What’s In It For THEM? The Value of Portfolio Management Systems Beyond the PMO

What’s In It For THEM? The Value of Portfolio Management Systems Beyond the PMO

What's in it for them?

When evaluating an opportunity, purchase, or even a new idea, most of us primarily judge it based on our motivations, our points of view, and our desires. You may have heard this referred to as “WIIFM” (What’s In It For Me). No? Just me? Come on; be honest!

Yet when we try and convince others of the merits of a new idea or opportunity, we often forget this simple and intuitive truth about human nature, trying instead to use the same logic and motivational drivers that appeal to us, rather than looking at it through the eyes of those to which we are trying to appeal. To be persuasive, we need to understand our audience's motivations and how our ideas and opportunities speak to and fulfill those motivations.

Over the last 15 years, I have helped several companies understand and articulate the value of Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) Systems to their organization. Even as I write the words, I flinch a little as the word “project” holds negative connotations for some. I have had to work through these in the past and they can derail the conversation in agile environment before it even gets started. Setting the word “project” aside, these portfolio management systems hold immense value for organizations regardless of their delivery methodology.


The motivations of Grizz our Silver Lab are not a mystery

One of the most common challenges that I have experienced in these evaluations, is that while those involved in the Portfolio Management function are typically the champions of these systems and understand very clearly why a PPM system is important to them, they sometimes struggle to articulate the value to the organization and stakeholders outside of the portfolio management function. Often, it is these very stakeholders that wield the power of the budget and therefore must be convinced of the value if the PPM system is going to be successful.

To warrant the investment in a PPM system, to get buy-in from the organization at large and to increase the engagement of those stakeholders outside of the portfolio management function, we need to prove the value of a PPM system to these influencers and decision-makers. To accomplish that, we need to understand and help them see the "WIIFT" (What’s In It For Them).

Many companies and organizations have done copious research on the topic of the value of PPM systems from a quantitative perspective, which a focused web search will turn up with relative ease. I would like to cite these findings here, but they have declined to acquiesce. That means they said “NO.” Bonus points if you can tell me what movie I borrowed that from.

On average however, what is consistently seen is:

  • A payback period within months
  • An ROI in the multiples of 100s within the first few years
  • Reduced administrative time
  • Reduced failed work efforts
  • Reduced low-value work efforts
  • Reduced redundant work
  • Reduced delivery times
  • Reduced overburn
  • Reduced labor costs
  • Increases in throughput
  • Increases in productivity
  • Increases in utilization

All of these factors can be easily quantified and can be used to build effective business cases, utilizing average return data. While some of the more commonly cited studies may be dated, the complexity and rate of change in our environments only continues to increase. I have experienced and would submit, that this fact makes accurate, real-time planning and execution data and the transparency and continuous adaptability it affords, arguably more valuable than ever before. The more recent studies are of course also pointing to the currently unquantifiable impact of AI and predictive analytics, which will quickly become foundational capabilities and are impossible to achieve without relevant, cohesive data. This capability will have a tangible impact, even if we do not yet fully understand it.

While the quantitative value of PPM systems is significant to the entire organization and must be explored to provide a sound business case, it is the qualitative value that can be the most persuasive to individual stakeholders. I have offered some possible benefits for consideration below. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather an example to help inspire thought regarding the WIIFT for common stakeholders of PPM systems that you might encounter in your organization.

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I would be remiss if I failed to mention that purchasing a capable PPM system is not enough to exact returns like the above. To derive the full potential value, an organization must also accompany the system with the people, processes, adoption plan, and vision, in the form of a solid understanding of its current Portfolio Management maturity and a roadmap for the future.

If you are considering the value of a PPM system to your organization, I would encourage you to look through the eyes of all of your stakeholders and be able to speak to how the system will benefit them and help to solve the challenges that they experience every day.

And as always, if you have questions or need help articulating the value of a PPM system for your organization, envisioning a portfolio management roadmap for the future, or deploying a world-class PPM system and the processes that will enable it to be successful, please feel free to reach out to me. I am happy to be of help.

If you would like to schedule a conversation or demo, we would love to share with you the value a PPM system can bring to your organization.

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