As the 2020-2030 decade is unfolding, we report on the current trends in Project Portfolio Management. Some of the trends stem from the post-Millenium agile years, while some others are clearly related to the pandemic.
Be aware of, and perhaps adopt some of the below PPM trends! Keep your portfolio management practices up to date. Software developers, like us, must be among the first to realize the trends. Our BigPicture portfolio management suite already embodies most of them.
Mixed agile-waterfall portfolios
First and foremost: hybrid portfolio management is becoming mainstream. Portfolios of traditional and agile projects tend to deliver more value than 100% waterfall or entirely agile portfolios. The trick here is to be able to roll both categories up into a unified portfolio view.
Project managers become hybrid too – ready to fit into initiatives that combine agile sprints with waterfall phases. “One size fits all” methodologies are becoming increasingly rare. Hybrid projects call for multi-geographical and multicultural teams. Global teams put even more pressure on project managers.
Products rather than projects
Organizations shift away from clear scopes, resource needs, and predetermined timeframes of projects to create products or services that seek to solve specific consumer problems over time.
What makes product management different from the project approach? Product management takes a long-term view of the evolving customer needs; also product management relies on flexible agile budgeting in an effort to deliver to customers. There are fewer constraints and deadlines in product management, than in project management. The rise of product management and the transformation of project management have a lot to do with the increasing share of software in nearly any product (cars, media, machine tools, etc.).
With the real-estate bubble and aging western societies, scarce resources create bottlenecks.
High-level demand management builds on top of traditional, low-level resource, capacity, and allocation management.
What is demand management all about? It is about understanding who is working on what at a given moment, and knowing if you have the capacity to kick off new initiatives. Demand management closely follows times of uncertainty and risk; and happens in the long term at the PMO level. For today’s companies, balancing the portfolio means balancing it not just on the right products, but on the right mix of resources needed to develop, deliver, and maintain those products.
Another portfolio-level trend is the birth of umbrella software. Umbrella software solutions are usually Business Analytics tools and portfolio-level dashboards that integrate and automate real-time data collection and synchronization. Umbrella software lets you keep an eye on the overall impact of an array of projects in the company. PPM software packages tend to take over mid-level project management software while stretching and “bridging” to low-level work management software, such as Trello.
Organizations with a PPM solution implemented report significantly higher levels of alignment of their projects and portfolio(s) with strategic business objectives – 80% compared to 56% of those without a PPM suite. Individual projects’ success rates also increase with a PPM solution in place – 84% of those polled reported success on at least half of the portfolio, compared to 51% among those not using PPM software.
Regarding the trends in PPM software, there are two more:
- Support for remote, distributed, and dispersed teams. Workload and holiday plans must accommodate both U.S., European, and Asian legal systems, holiday calendars, and customs. Next, PPM software packages have begun to form ecosystems of suppliers. These integrate various work management platforms. For instance, our BigPicture integrates Jira with Trello, and will soon let Azure DevOps in.
- Migration from on-premise to the cloud (SaaS) for cost and time optimization, as well as better user experience and improved security.
Delivering on time and on budget
Contrary to the long-term trends, a recent survey conducted by KeyedIn Solutions (The PMO Outlook Report – 2021 Edition) revealed an interesting trend – delivering on-time and on-budget weights more (30%) than driving the business forward (27%), delivering the most valuable projects (20%), achieving or exceeding stakeholder expectations (12%), and achieving agreed-upon “soft” benefits (12%).
Clearly, this surprising trend is related to the pandemic turmoil. While the trend might seem temporary, there are reasons to believe it is not something easily fixable.
Value-based scoring models
Value-based scoring models outperform executive orders and ‘no official prioritization’. According to a survey5, value-based scoring models increase the chances of having more than half of projects in a portfolio successful. Techniques such as Efficient frontier (investment vs. strategic/financial value graph) or Waterline analysis (projects above the waterline collectively meet some constraint) have been in circulation for a while. The recent trend is that they were automated and baked into PPM software so that green light can quickly be given to a collection of projects that provide the greatest amount of long-term value.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Projects sit atop large datasets of structured information. Until recently data scientists had to manually “connect the dots”. No wonder, Artificial Intelligence is reaching portfolio-level management.
At BigPicture we have employed machine learning for semi-automatic resource management. Locate the best assignee for any given task, based on skills individuals possess and their residual capacity. Process 5 to 10 tasks per minute by using AI that we have baked into BigPicture.
Supertrend: Lean Portfolio Management, Value streams, and Agility at scale taking over from PPM?
Project Portfolio Management is a proven approach and the mentioned trends remain entirely valid.
However, many organizations “flirted” with PPM. They tried out formal numerical or measured assessments for project selection and prioritization, and then quickly rejected it as being inflexible, time-consuming, or providing faulty results.
Hence, an even bigger change is taking place.
PPM is giving way to the Lean Portfolio Management with its Value Streams that seem to be the next big thing or a super-trend in portfolio-level management. Value streams are large “teams” – able to self-form, self-organize, and apparently to make portfolio-level decisions better in a race to deliver more value faster.