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Top 5 Benefits of Project Portfolio Management (PPM)

Posted by Michael Bensussen on Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Projects play a critical role in the progress of a company. Their success can facilitate entry into new markets, implement cutting edge technologies, or activate long awaited operational assets. Conversely, their failure can stifle progress, aggravate timelines, disrupt strategies, or herald a firm’s disappearance altogether.  

A company’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is faced with a multitude of challenges when considering the commercial and economic viability of the projects the company is undertaking. As not only the figurehead of corporate finance, but also the penultimate individual often borne with the burden of reporting success (or failure) of projects, it can be a stressful existence

Compounded by volume and bandwidth limitations (an individual can only do so much), would it not be a relief to know that the company’s portfolio of projects is secure in its trajectory toward success and not failure? Certainly! There are many facets to ensuring that kind of outcome, but with the comprehensive approach of Portfolio Project Management (PPM), the daunting task of managing many unique projects becomes less daunting and more aligned with summary level oversight of the important function that projects play in a firms ongoing success and growth over time. With these outcomes in mind, employing any tools, techniques or tactics to alleviate the burden and facilitate easier management is no doubt a sound approach to steering what can be some of the most important endeavors a company may undertake. 

Here are the top 5 benefits to adopting PPM as the firm’s approach to managing projects, from the perspective of the CFO:

  1. Distributed Responsibility for Project Control.
    1. Project Control (Project Control) is the financially faceted governance of a project’s outcome with the tenets of cost, schedule and scope being of primary concern. Often, this control is vertically integrated within a firm as a traditional organizational structure funneling authority up through a director, principal, manager or other individual with the ultimate responsibility for its effectiveness.  
    2. Within the PPM methodology, responsibility for the implementation, execution and effectiveness of the Project Control approach is distributed among not only Project Control personnel, but also functional personnel – on usually a part time basis – who also perform other functions within the company. This can be engineers, PMs, administrative employees and also executives. 
    3. This is normally made possible by a seamless and user-friendly web-facing tool that is controlled and administered by the fulltime Project Control staff trained and knowledgeable on the application. 
  2. Business Continuity & Cross Functional Training
    1. As a bridge between the exclusive Project Control staff and the other functional partners, training is a major component of the methodology. It is critical that all participants in the scheme understand and have a solid grasp of Project Control principles, as well as being able to execute upon them. 
    2. This is achieved by utilizing the full time Project Control staff as not just practitioners, but also as teachers. They would be responsible for conveying the necessary knowledge and expertise to the functional partners to conduct their Project Control work effectively.  
    3. In return, the full-time Project Control staff can cement and solidify their knowledge in a much more cohesive fashion than just training on those principles alone. 
  3. Secure Data Transmission and Protected Access to Project Files.
    1. For the approach to work properly, very discrete and segregated permissions are mandatory. PPM is only effective if the hard work and progress of the functional partners is protected and free from undue influence by outsiders (those who do not have responsibility or knowledge of the work).  
    2. Hand-in-hand with this comes data security, which needs to be particularly robust due to its role in reporting and tracking. “Responsible managers” or “accountable personnel” are designated as the individuals who have sole permission to adjust certain aspects of the work (i.e., status, progress and remaining work). 
  4. Direct Accountability & Minimal Oversight
    1. As a result of a functioning PPM approach, a tacit benefit is the specific and clear accountability for who is responsible to conduct what. Clear roles and responsibilities are an absolute must, especially when designating responsible managers or accountable personnel. Most PPM approaches incorporate a “timesheet” or “team member” interface that pairs with and feeds the application with the necessary data (i.e., progress and status of activities) from the people performing the work. 
    2. Under a properly trained and established PPM approach, the CFO can rest easy knowing that her direct reports – in addition to the functional partners established through clear roles and responsibilities – can confidently exert minimal oversight through the direct chain of command. Distributed responsibility means that not just the Project Control staff is shouldered with the heavy load of maintaining, cleaning, reporting and analyzing the data. While, yes, a large portion of what the direct staff will be doing could be characterized as oversight, the sole responsibility does not ascend up through a singular individual (the CFO). It would be distributed amongst many others, especially when also employing the Earned Value tenets of Control Account Managers and additional responsible personnel. 
  5. Summary Level Reporting & Executive Dashboards.
    1. Reporting data is much cleaner and more streamlined under the PPM methodology. That is because Project Control staff are freed up – due to the distribution of traditional, lower-intensity, but time-intensive Project Control tasks – to focus on the conveyance of what is truly of value to upper management. This means that the more experienced, senior level individuals are spending less time fixing broken schedules, crunching data and feeding systems, and rather taking the outputs of the PPM approach and molding them into reports or dashboards that speak to executives with the most efficacy and clarity as possible. 

 

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Topics: Aerospace & Defense, Energy, Utilities, Oil & Gas, Engineering & Construction, Technology, Project Portfolio Management (PPM), Deltek PPM, Oracle Primavera, Government & Public Sector, Microsoft EPM, forProject Technology, Healthcare, Finance & Insurance, Recent Articles

Michael Bensussen

By Michael Bensussen

Michael has more than 15 years combined cost engineering, scheduling, earned value management, construction and project management experience across a broad spectrum of industry and business. He leverages his understanding and knowhow with confidence. His ascendant vision is derived from diverse familiarity with Nuclear, Environmental, Oil & Gas, Mission Critical Commercial & Industrial, Transportation, and Higher Education projects. As a volunteer, Mike harnesses a passion for education and utilizes creativity to promulgate the project controls discipline. He is an active non-profit board member and contributes regularly in professional society. He will often appear as a guest speaker within the community while conducting educational outreach.

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