Oct 11, 2018

PPM: The Nexus of Benefits, Resource and Strategy Management ... The View from PMI, Part 1

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin | 0 Comments

When I arrived at the PMI Global Congress in Los Angeles last Saturday, I was sure my own presentation on our Strategy Execution Process Benchmark was 100% ready to present on Monday.
Ha! Silly me. With each session I attended, my speaker's notes expanded, filling the margins with footnotes and additions and finally spiraling around the margin. It was a miracle I was able to read them by the time my session rolled around. But that is why we attend these events, isn't it? Our frame of reference broadens and suddenly connections we had not imagined swim into view (making those connections was the theme of the closing keynote of the event, by Google's Abigail Posner).
Peter Mello's presentation on portfolio management challenges delivered far more than I was expecting, as he zoomed around the universe of PM connecting, with a pinpoint accuracy, multiple aspects of strategic PM that are often siloed or orphaned on major projects: benefits realization, resource management, and the measurement of value among them. "Benefits Realization provides a way to measure how projects add value to the organization,” he noted, and went on to deliver insights faster than I could record them: 

"The product of the process of aligning the project portfolio with organizational strategy is benefits. 
"A product is not a benefit. The value produced or accrued to the organization by that product is the benefit. So the best possible products are not the value we seek. Waste and unsustainability can eat up value during the process unless we keep our eye on the desired value.
"Why do we do these projects? Not for NPV or even ROI, but for the value created, which may not even be financial. 
"Execution means you manage to minimize risks and make additional benefits possible.
"The role of resource management cannot be underestimated since the resources are what make benefits achievable."

He even made me love PPM software a little more than I did last week. Software, he rightly noted, is a facilitator and support system ... but we have to use it correctly. Mello joked that he has heard many project managers say, “I didn’t use that resource leveling button because it breaks my schedule.” The self-deprecating laugh that went up in the room proved that he had hit a nerve. He went on to show, using a dramatic imaginary case (Save Earth from the asteroid!) that even small errors in resource management can add up to disaster, wrapping up by urging us to "Trust that button! Even if it does a lousy job of resource leveling it is better than nothing.”

Finally, I had a new view into the change that artificial intelligence will make on projects and programs. He cited a Gartner study saying that 80% of what project managers do will be done by AI by 2030. Then, to my surprise, Mello said, “Good! I hope it happens sooner, so that I can focus on the 20% that really matters.”

That 20% is probably what we have always termed the "art" of project management, and it surely involves making creative connections between various processes. I won't soon forget that "The product of the process of aligning the project portfolio with organizational strategy is benefits," because I've never heard these three issues so succinctly wrapped up before.

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