PPM leaders must prepare for extreme business transformation projects with high returns

IT-enabled businesses specializing in program and portfolio management (PPM) must prepare for a greater number of business transformation projects and programs with higher expectations for results, and requiring engagement outside basic PPM practices, says Gartner.

Today, due to the turbulent nature of business, supporting strategic initiatives and adapting to market changes brings greater scrutiny upon all PPM leaders, said Robert Handler, vice president and an analyst at Gartner.

The trend will also result in acquisition of much-needed organization change management and business process change management capabilities, Handler added. “The increased severity of coming changes will serve to highlight PPM skill and practice deficiencies, and bring about increased recognition of the value of advanced practices.”

To cut across silos and connect strategy to program execution, most C-suites in the largest global organizations will rely on activist enterprise program management office (EPMO) leaders by 2017. This prediction is driven by two distinct factors: the first is the increasing pressure toward innovation and differentiation as economies and businesses emerge from the recession. The second is that organizations need to significantly improve their ability to execute on strategy.

The role of an activist EPMO leader is to make sure that different business units are executing strategic work (projects and programs) that contribute to the wider business perspective when the work is completed. In the past, organizations in transition have accomplished this by one of the members of the C-suite serving in this role (often the CFO or the COO).

The trend toward assigning this function to someone who can influence cooperative behavior, rather than attempting to compel compliance with plans, is becoming particularly attractive as a way to avoid political turf battles among various divisions.

All this amounts to a new PPM leader role emerging. As always, with a new role, there will be a shortage of skilled labor to fulfill the demand. Professional service organizations will be unable to fill the void, because the role will require organic, internally developed power and influence through existing relationships across organizations.

Successful organizations will promote from within. Technology vendors offering program portfolio tools, primarily as dashboards to support visibility of strategic change initiatives, will emerge or evolve. “The vendors that provide both the technology and methodology to connect these dashboards to the actual change initiatives will be the ones with staying power,” said Fitzgerald.

Further Gartner predicts that by 2016, successful transformation program leaders will direct 60 per cent of the program budget to organizational/business process change activities. Successful programs take account of how much change a business can undergo in any given period and will stay below that threshold to avoid change fatigue.

Therefore, work is planned in logical increments and business users have sufficient knowledge of what is expected of them and when. Explicitly defining the resources in IT and business needed to manage and enable change will help to mitigate change fatigue.

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