Highlights from PMI’s 2012 Pulse of the Profession Portfolio Management report were presented in the June issue of PM Network, and one of the obvious, but critical findings was that senior management receptivity was voted the #1 driver for effective project portfolio management (PPM).
This underscores a point I’ve made a few times which is that whereas improvements in project management capability can take place via a grass-roots movement, instituting portfolio management practices needs not only buy-in, but significant behavior change from executives and hence must have a top-down element to be successful.
Its not enough to have a consistent project intake or prioritization process – if the C-level executives all agree on which initiatives to proceed with but when they return to their silos they find slush funds or operating expense buckets to fund those that weren’t approved, PPM is failing. Sometimes this non-compliance doesn’t even have to be this overt – through their direction, their functional managers can procrastinate or passively resist providing resources to the projects that they weren’t keen on.
The other reason to have senior management receptiveness is to provide ongoing funding for supporting tools & staffing as well as having some powerful champions to support you if front-line staff challenge the practices.
So what are some ways to go about securing and sustaining real buy-in from the C-suite?
- Bake it into their performance incentive plans – Adding support and compliance with PPM practices as a measurable objective for receiving bonuses could be a powerful incentive.
- Educate, educate, educate – While it might seem like unnecessary bureaucracy to them at first, once they learn how PPM can start to improve the predictability of their division’s workload, they could see how it could provide them with objective justification for staff augmentation or work prioritization.
- Success begets success – Whether its providing better data to support decision making, or freeing up staff from low value activities, you’ll want to figure out what is the low hanging fruit that can be delivered reasonably quickly to ensure that support does not start to wane.
While you could achieve some PPM success without executive leadership support, “united we stand, divided we fall”.