Guest Blog by Tim Jaques, PMP
Note from Marty – Tim Jaques is a first time author, but a more apt description is first rate project manager. Tim and his partner Jon Weinstein have recently published a book on project management, “Achieving Project Management Success in the Federal Government.” I’ve worked with both Tim and Jon but I have not yet read their book … though it is in my reading list. Their book is available now and Tim’s guest blog is based on a lesson from their new book.
2009 produced, among other things, executives with sharper, hungrier instincts. As mid-market companies come about to face fresh opportunities, many executives are chaffing to make bold moves. We see pent up demand in current customers and as well as new, untapped markets. Many companies achieved better than expected results in 2009 through sales and cost reduction efforts. Moving into 2010, mid-market executives require a solid approach to rolling out new investments within the business. By investments, I mean any type of project that is substantial, directly addresses the mission, or is required by law or business necessity.
The temptation is to put 2009 behind us by investing ahead of the curve. Investments into the business are good and necessary, but in 2010, we need to ensure that they build value for the organization. There is a better way to avoid common investment pitfalls, and that is through Project Portfolio Management, or PPM. Some of the common pitfalls include:
Lack of Investment Focus. Opportunities abound everywhere. From proposed new hiring tax credits, to corporate fire sales, to investing in new automated solutions, many mid-market companies are beginning to see a wealth of new possibilities. In this frenetic environment, executives can lose their focus on their mission and core offerings. We need a clear vision of the expected benefits of an investment, and when those benefits would accrue to the company.
Maintaining the Austerity Mindset. For nearly two years, mid-market companies have been reeling in the face of customers who won’t buy and don’t pay. Entire supply chains have been decimated, which brought about an austerity mindset for many companies. As departmental budgets decreased, managers were required to justify every investment. This mindset will become unproductive in 2010, as we look toward a new marketplace filled with skeptical buyers. What got us through 2008-09 will not get us through 2010.
Poor Communication. As mid-market companies move into action, there will be a host of projects designed to reconnect with customers, shore up credit lines, make the most of government-sponsored investments, and enhance the workforce. Throughout all of this, corporate executives should be focusing on the communication of these investments. Customers and employees need to hear a clean, clear direction from the executive office.
Effective Project Portfolio Management (PPM) practices offer a formalized approach to forming, selecting, managing and retiring investments within the business. The portfolio addresses the scarce pool of resources (people, time, and money) required for growth, and creates accountability across all investments. Portfolio management processes provide an excellent forum for executives to maintain a dialog about the best uses of the company’s resources. Mid-market companies respond well to portfolios, as a well-run portfolio allows for greater agility and more visibility into the investment. PPM can be a way to better manage the flow of investment dollars – more control on the spigot. Often, value is created through collaboration across an organization, or multiple organizations. PPM offers an effective path to value creation through executive collaboration.
As mid-market organizations look toward new investments in 2010, PPM is a highly effective tool that can help transition to a healthy, rationalized approach to investments.
For more on this topic, contact Tim Jaques, CEO of Line of Sight (www.line-of-sight.com), specializing in creating value through project management and process improvement. Line of Sight serves large and mid-market companies, as well as governments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org