5 Key Rules for OPM in an Innovation Environment

Adapted Prioritization

New technologies emerge to meet various business changing requirements. The Portfolio management must evolve along with technology and business process. The execution plans can be re-prioritized and changed as per demands of situations.

The management must have the courage to cancel or delay projects and programs when that is the right thing to do.

Reviewing results in the context of strategy, the management decides whether a project or program should be cancelled or delayed. For example, a project is no longer aligned to strategy because the changing priorities, focus and expectations. These projects or programs might be executing very well, but they won’t deliver the latest strategic results that justify continued investment.

In order to manage the Portfolio with agility, the Portfolio Management has to be an integrated operation, fully aligned with business objectives and strategic goals.

Agile Planning

It is not easy to start a project with all variables and details in a single shot. It is much better to plan and work on phases. It is important to maintain a sense of direction by getting all stakeholders involved in reviews and approvals throughout multiple planning phases.

Agile Planning is different from traditional project planning. It is based on a selection of features that are developed during a specific set of time (the sprint). The ultimate purpose of Agile Planning is to achieve the organization’s vision and objectives.

An Agile Plan focuses on planning multiple iterations in an effort to determine when each release will be delivered. In Agile Planning, a project is developed in sprints. The goal of sprint planning is to determine the features and functionality that will be included in the next iteration. Before each sprint begins, a sprint planning meeting takes place between the project owner and development team members. The user stories and backlog are reviewed to determine the tasks that can be completed during the sprint. These plans deliver a finer level of detail (compared to the high-level release plan), including which tasks are to be performed by which team members and how long each task will take.

Activities that occur during the Agile planning process include:

Task Planning: Agile team members break the features down into tasks and then team members take those tasks on. As a matter of best practice, look at the time estimates and try to break any task that may take longer than a day down into smaller tasks. This helps to reduce uncertainty and foster successful task completion. It also feeds into the job of estimating, as it is much easier to estimate the time required to complete a smaller task.

Micro Monitor and Do Not Micro Manage

Traditional project management methodologies are unnecessarily bureaucratic, rigid and tedious for current business environment. These project management requirements often slow down the execution significantly.

Some leaders are too analytical and focus on fine details. They need to understand that the real focus should be on project execution and delivery.

Changes, issues and risks should be monitored, reviewed and addressed with agility. Management’s focus should be on project completion, meeting milestones and deliver business requirements.

An effective approach is providing decision makers about the status of Portfolios, Programs, and Projects on a regular base. The management can always have a clear picture on organization’s portfolio of strategic initiatives and their performance.

The leadership shall drive and define very clear metrics that are applied in a standardized way cross the organization. Standardization make the decision making less complex and easier to judge.

Although Micro Manage has a great involvement and control, it could become a distraction and often causes misuse of resources.

The senior leadership shall pay attention on the things that are important to them. They need to distinguish the awareness vs. interferences. They shall take actions only when needed with the appropriate level of involvement.

More Attention on Risk Management

Establish a centralized repository to track risks of Portfolio, Programs and Projects. It must track all risks with mitigation plans. All stakeholders must not hesitate when it comes to reporting any challenges, concerns and risks. All members should be encouraged to voice their issues and opinions. It leads to fewer surprises, avoiding schedule delay and budget overrun.

Communicate, Communicate and Communicate

The management team must help in creating a picture of deliverables in minds of every person involved in the process. It keeps all stakeholders on the same page by communicating all project activities and deliverables.

Projects are constrained with timeline, resources and budget. It is very importance that all programs and projects must always be led towards completion. It is essential to have periodic updates, follow-ups and meetings.