Leveraging Agile Principles for Portfolio Management – Guiding Principle #1
Agile work methods have revolutionized the way project management offices (PMOs), deliver results to their organizations. It’s not surprising that many businesses are now looking at how to apply the Agile principles at the portfolio level to improve strategic decision-making, improve overall performance, and deliver greater value internally and externally.
If Agile is the best approach to portfolio management, then is there a better way to implement Agile Portfolio Management in your PMO. It is simple: Apply one of the key principles that have long been beneficial to product developmentteams to your projects.
The Strategy: Deliver products and not projects.
This phrase is common in projectmanagement spheres. It’s not difficult to understand what it means. Isn’t it the responsibility of a PMO, to deliver projects? It’s easy for people to see why there is so much confusion. We are not simply referring to delivering productsversus projects. Far from it. What we really mean is a shift in thinking during portfoliomanagement.
Software industry developed the Agile product delivery model to remain competitive, provide superior customer value, and keep up with technological change. Software development was characterized by strict adherence to a timeline and a plan. This meant that you would likely deliver your product on-time and within budget, but it would be obsolete and unusable to customers. This concept is summarized perfectly by a famous line from the 1944 western film Call of the Rockies: “The operation was successful, but the patient died.” ”
Your portfolio manager can use an Agile methodology to make changes, shift goals, divert investments, and make improvements. All this with the end goal of delivering greater value to customers and stakeholders. They use milestones to measure progress, and depending on data and feedback, the route to the finish may follow multiple paths. This may not be the best way to go for every project, but it will work well for those who are more strategic and exploratory.
Making the Shift
To help clarify the difference between project delivery and product delivery, I like to use the analogy of buying a house or owning one. You will need to have a list of tasks that you complete in a time frame that suits your needs when you purchase a house. Find a realtor, secure financing, and begin househunting. After you have completed inspections and appraisals, you close the loan and sign the keys. Once you have checked all of these boxes, you will be able to achieve the projectmanager’s dream of governance: completing a project on time, within budget, and within scope. You now have a home.
However, the ownership of a home is a whole different matter. The homeowner begins to live a product delivery model from the moment they move in, even though you may not have thought of it that way before. It’s simple, just think about it. Every home needs maintenance and upgrades. You can add or remove carpet. You paint. You create landscapes. You buy new furniture. That’s not all! You will likely find that the upstairs toilet is leaking and needs to be repaired. The kitchen that you loved so much in the walkthroughs is actually too small and should be expanded. When it rains, your basement floods. When it’s windy, the back fence can fall down. These are all modifications you will need to make to your home to keep it livable and to protect and increase its value as an asset. Asset is the key word here. Your home sweet home is a product you can rent, sell, or borrow.