Tuesday, January 5, 2021

PPM is dead, long live PPM!

 Stop scheduling your projects, manage your portfolio instead…

The acceleration of the transformation towards a digital world has been a reality for several years now. The sanitary crisis the world is currently going through with unprecedented economic and human impacts has highlighted the need for greater adaptability and responsiveness of companies.

Regardless of the sector, companies must reaffirm their vision, clarify their strategic initiatives and realign their investments.

We are entering a new era where the need to quickly align strategic vision and execution is increasingly necessary. This is not just a transitional phase to get out of this crisis but a long-lasting operating model that should be adopted to face the world of today and tomorrow. One of the levers to achieve this is the implementation of a new approach to a more dynamic project and portfolio management.

Change of paradigm

The paradigm of the previous decade on portfolio management was a bottom-up approach, favoring the creation and management of portfolio through the consolidation, the aggregation of a multitude of projects. We are now making several observations questioning this model:

  • The implementation of the operational layer of portfolio management requires a certain level of maturity, strong change management and significant effort.
  • The population of project managers is changing. Compared to "career" project managers certified and trained, the new project managers are webmasters, consultants, business analysts who move into the world of project management.
  • The activities to be managed in an organization are heterogeneous in their characteristics such as the delivery mode (Agile, V model), and are often already supported by an existing IT ecosystem (legacy).
  • The cycle times between the consolidation of operational activities at the strategic level then the operational application of the strategic realignment can be very long and lead to latency in the organization management.

Based on this observation, we can now distinguish two complementary areas in the playground of Project & Portfolio Management (PPM):

  • Strategic Portfolio Management (SPM)
  • Adaptive Project Management (APM)

Strategy and execution, a complementary approach

It is therefore recommended to implement as a first step the upper layer of portfolio management (SPM), a core-model or common denominator that makes possible to align the execution of activities with the business strategy. This layer provides a maximized and immediate ROI by dynamically declining the strategic drivers of the organization at the execution level, with a controlled effort. We therefore bring in the first place and quickly decision support tools on the overall management of activities with a pragmatic approach. The SPM corresponds to “Do the right projects”.

In addition, the management of project execution is the core of the operational performance optimization. Based on the core-model, a necessary and sufficient prerequisite, the organization is autonomous to adapt the operational management of its activities as needed, on demand, depending on its maturity and its context. The compliance with the minimum portfolio management framework gives to teams a full autonomy and flexibility to manage the execution of projects, in terms of approach, depth or tooling. Thus the implementation of a PPM does not call into question the use of backlog tools. Through the APM, we are addressing to the stake of "Do the projects right".

We are therefore in a top-down portfolio management approach, supported by market PPM solutions that support the complementarity of SPM and APM. Organizations that focus exclusively on the operational component of PPM solutions are likely missing out on its ability to drive the digital transformation of the organization.

Strategic approach & processes maturity

PPM solutions are at the crossroad of business processes: strategic management, financial management, resource management, project management, enterprise architecture, etc. The processes definition and maturity are often and wrongly shown as a prerequisite for the implementation of a PPM. This is wishful thinking because the processes are living artefacts that evolve with the market, the context and the stakes of the organization. In this time of crisis, we have never adjusted our processes as much as in the past 6 months.

We therefore emphasis on the concept of the common denominator here. Strategic portfolio management can be implemented on a set of strong markers such as an RACI, the life cycle of different types of activities and KPIs. Reporting is an essential aspect because management indicators come from the requirements for structuring portfolio management. Thus the PPM solution will anchor the management processes in the operational model and its governance.

For example a first layer of portfolio management, sufficient to dynamically and in real time support the strategic alignment of project execution, could be a simple form for each of the projects containing start and end dates, some attributes and indicators, associated with a capacity plan at skills level. This ensures the immediacy and dematerialization of the relationship between the project manager, the project office and the decision-makers. Moreover, with the flexibility and autonomy of the operational teams, we smooth out the differences in maturity at the process level.

Dichotomy of hybrid portfolio

The challenge of an approach based on autonomy and operational flexibility is even more critical as the portfolios are now mainly hybrid, resulting from the cohabitation of traditional projects (V model) with Agile products. Unlike the bimodal mode (cohabitation of homogeneous portfolios, either traditional or agile), this hybrid world requires the management, selection and prioritization of heterogeneous objects.

This cohabitation seems to be insoluble because it implies the manipulation of structurally different objects, by nature, management and content. So how do you prioritize a project versus an Agile product? Projects are driven and managed by tracking progress, products are by measuring value.

If this dichotomy is still little modelled or implemented, we can try to provide some answers. Here again, we will try to bring a common denominator to the KPIs, by bringing the two typologies into a field of co-management. For example, we will introduce progress indicators on products based on the backlog items as well as on the capacity of the Agile team. On the other hand, we will propose for V model projects to add the notion of value, possibly by dividing up the project.

PPM : from control to steering

From a rigid, uniform but unitary framework, with a bottom-up and control-oriented approach, we have moved into an opposite paradigm. PPM solutions now serve strategic objectives from which a flexible operational management and variable depth is applied, encouraging the autonomy of the teams and therefore the efficiency of management. On the other hand, they require total transparency in the management of activities.

While being less complex and less time-consuming, implementations of PPM solutions now deliver more quickly a maximized ROI and are an excellent receptacle for managing hybrid portfolios. The preferred methodology for deploying PPM solutions is to start with an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) avoiding the tunnel effect and to enhance it with successive addition of value as the digital transformation of the organization progresses.

There is no doubt that PPMs are reinventing themselves and evolving with digital transformation. While some players have already integrated various delivery and governance modes into their platforms, they will undoubtedly have to go even further by adapting to new uses through AI, bots, mobility, etc., by providing a complete and on-demand horizontal (end-to-end lifecycle) and vertical (information depth) coverage.



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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Microsoft Project bricks: Project Online, Project for the web, Home, Roadmap, Project Operations

A new brand area is coming in the Project world. I do believe that the project management paradigm is changing. 10 years back, project managers used to be professional schedulers with certifications, excellent project management skills and a dedicated continuous training and education.
Nowadays project managers are more and more employees who have project management appetence and are coming to this position by seniority after a few years holding other responsibilities. They could be web designers, developers, architects... 
When the traditional Project world (Project Server and Project Online with MS Project Pro) was perfect for the first category with strong scheduling and project/portfolio capabilities, the second category could not fit in it: tooo complex, too many features, too many constraints, training required, etc... 
Project for the Web with Roadmap coming with the CDS and Power Automate bring all together a brand new project management approach: simple, intuitive, full web, no training, drag and drop. No more critical path, just a few columns, you can start just right now to plan your project and activities, using a simple task grid, Kanban or Gantt. You can of course add some information such as effort, % complete, predecessors to make your project plan relevant and gather data at portfolio level using PowerBI. 
My guess is that Microsoft with invest more and more on this approach. Moreover, Project Operations, coming this fall will extend Project for the web using CDS to make it work with PSA service. You can still use Project Online, there are so many organizations using it that it will still remain for at least a decade. And Roadmap helps you consolidating both Project for the Web and Project Online data.
I won't give more technical details about Project for the web since you can already find a lot of amazing things on the web, especially about implementing business rules using Power Automate. 


Below a few screen shots:

In Roadmap you can have a portfolio view adding your Project for the web projects (Déploiement PPM), your Project Online projects (Projet ITSM). You can also add Azure DevOps projects.

Finally in Project Home you can see your roadmaps (portfolio views) and your projects.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

New "decomposition tree" visual in PowerBI!

Do you remember this visual? Long time ago, we used to create nice dashboards using PerformancePoint Dashboard Designer. I think it was part of SharePoint Server 2010. That was really nice for people like me who are not doing any codes such as SSRS reports or .NET. We could deliver to our customers nice interactive web dashboards with drill-down capabilities. Basically I think it must have inspired MS engineers when developping PowerBI.

Here is a vintage article about PerformancePoint (in french).

PerformancePoint most famous visual was the decomposition tree.  It allowed you selecting a data (custom field) then seeing all sub-decomposition along a measure (work for example). So much better than selecting many filters. As a PM, you could see in your department, your project type, your project stage, your project client, the work by phase.
Here was what it looked like:
Since then we have been playing with PowerBI at lot (more than that) but still to such visual. Now it is done! In PowerBI november update, you have this decomposition tree visual. Thanks Microsoft!

Go and play with it!

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

New service: "project for the web"!

It has been a while since we didn't have such a major update in the Microsoft Project World. I would say that the last key change was in 2013 with Project Online, available in MS cloud. That being said, the features were the same as the on-premise version and it was more the subscription model that was changed.
Since beginning of October a new service has been announced by Microsoft, following Roadmap and Project Server releases earlier this year: PROJECT FOR THE WEB (P4W).
I won't describe here this service in detail since the Project community is quite active and already has produced a bunch of nice article. I'll just point to those articles and highlight the most interesting parts.

Basically it is a brand new service, well described by the following diagram.
You see there that P4W and Project Online are 2 separated services. The first one is based on the Power Plateform and use the CDS (Common Data Service) to store data. Project Online is still available, using both web access (PWA) and desktop client (MS Project). Both services can be accessed by Roadmap for consolidation and PowerBI for reporting.

Here are the key feature of P4W:
  • The grid is an Excel like view allowing managing in a simple way tasks, attribute and assignments.
  • Gantt chart allows having a graphical and timephased view of the tasks.
  • The Kanban view brings more agility in the day to day task management.
Note that those 3 views support co-authoring and real-time (no more check-in/check-out, publish). Accesses are managed through O365 groups and you can embed views in Teams. Note also that since this new service is based on the Power platform, there are many opportunities to enhance the service.

You'll find some screenshots in the links I shared above.

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Thursday, August 1, 2019

Project versioning and back-up on Project Online: vote on UserVoice!

Since Project Online was launched back in 2013, there is no more back-up and restore feature available.

UserVoice proposed to introduce again this feature strongly used by Project administrators. You can vote here. I had the opportunity to write a review on this idea on Erik's blog. You can find the review here.

I recently added a new idea on the UserVoice page for versioning projects. This is kind of related but the versioning should be accessible to the users (like the sharepoint versioning), not like the initial back-up/restore feature. Moreover the scope should be extended to the new Project Service platform and not only Project Online.

What do you think? Would you vote for this idea?

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