Feb 26, 2016

2016 Challenge for PMOs: Document Time-to-Value

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin | 0 Comments

There are opportunity costs in NOT implementing PM processes. How long is it prudent to wait?

For the first decade that I wrote about and reported on project management, almost nobody in the wider business press was talking about PM at all. I became adept at reading between the lines in business, management, strategy, and software/IT publications, looking for ways that their trends and pain-points related to our discipline. That has not been the case more recently, as project management has become a more mainstream business process and topic.

However, a few months ago I came across the term “time to value (TtV)” in an ad in The Economist. If, like me, you aren’t working in software development or implementation, you may not be very familiar with the concept that TechTarget defines as “the period of time between a request for a specific value and the initial delivery of the value requested.  A value is a desirable business goal; it can be a quantifiable (tangible) or abstract (intangible).”  

The appropriateness of this metric for expressing project management process value (as well as, potentially, the value of the projects themselves) struck me instantly. However, searching the internet for information about TtV yielded nothing specific to project management. So I went back to my old method of digging through related sites. Here are a few points of connection between TtV and PM:

“What is the opportunity cost—i.e., the amount of cost savings and productivity gains your company will forfeit—by waiting weeks, months, or even years to implement” …

… fill in the blank. There are opportunity costs in not implementing project management processes and PMOs; these have been identified in some of our previous research studies. For example, our 2014 PM Maturity and Value Benchmark study identified a cost savings of 16% per project, on average, for companies that had invested in improving PM maturity, as well as a 21% improvement in productivity. How long is it prudent to wait to gain those sorts of advantages?

  • Time to market makes sense for products, and project management’s value in reducing time to market has been validated in some of our research studies (for example, the 2014 State of the PMO study showed that having implemented a PMO added 16% per year, on average, improvement in time to market). But applying TtV to process or structural innovations requires us to scrutinize our assumptions. As WorkingWider.com notes,

“Improving time-to-value starts with resetting assumptions about how speed works in business.  Dashing from one meeting, or market, to another rarely wins.  Multi-tasking has some value but Stanford research shows it also has major inefficiencies.  As lead researcher Clifford Nass describes, multi-taskers are “… suckers for irrelevancy.  Everything distracts them.”

Pushing people can instill a sense of urgency but without logic and clear competitive rationale, it’s just pressure.  At a minimum, pressure invites mistakes, burn out, and wastes money.  The natural urge to keep “things moving forward” contributes little if you don’t know and differentiate the highest value opportunities.”

Click here to read his “Six Keys to Accelerate Time-to-Value” and see if you don’t notice that many of his observations relate well to PM processes. In particular I was struck by this:

“Since every market, project and task has its own internal logic, you’ve got to constantly compare opportunity, investment, risk and value relative to each other.  Treat what’s in play as a portfolio.  Choosing to invest in one item means that you’re choosing not to invest in another.”

The point being that both choices add value: what you invest in, and the avoidance of cost allied with what you choose not to invest in. This is the value of Project Portfolio Management in a nutshell. He urges us to broaden our thinking about the ways we add, and measure, value.

Your thoughts? What would a TtV measure for PMO implementation look like, for example? How can you get started … today?


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