Enterprise Initiatives

This blog focuses on Enterprise IT topics such as Enterprise Architecture, Portfolio Management, Change Management, Business Process Management, and recaps various technology events and news.

  1. All of your projects are #1 priority.
  2. You have more projects assigned to you then you have people to work on them.
  3. Most of your resources are only allocated 50% or less to your project.
  4. The users figured out that if they pull a large enough revenue number out of the air, their project will get funded.
  5. You can't free up resources to work on the new #1 priority project because your executive sponsor demands you continue to work on the next maintenance release.
  6. You have no idea how much the project really costs.
  7. Your #1 priority changes week to week.
  8. You get half way through the project and the user decides that they don't really need the project.
  9. Your project is a year and a half late with no end in sight and nobody wants to cancel it.
  10. You have $30K/yr data entry clerks making $80K/yr developers work on non value add maintenance items.
All of these signs are real life examples I have seen in the industry over the last three decades. Without portfolio management, companies waste valuable time and money due to....
  • Focusing on the wrong projects
  • No accountability for what the business is asking for
  • Lack of focus due to out of balance resource allocations
  • Having no visibility into the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of projects
  • Priorities set by the "Bubba System"
  • Continuing to throw money at death march projects
  • Short term design decisions due to lack of time
Companies should manage their portfolio of projects just like an investor manages his or her portfolio of financial investments. When investing your hard earned cash, many people believe in diversifying. Usually you see a combination of long term, short term, foreign funds, high risk, low risk, and various other types of investments. Most investors have an investment strategy. Younger investors are typically more aggressive because they have more time until retirement. Older investors are typically more conservative because they will have to tap into these funds in a few years.

Businesses should think the same way. They should look at their projects as investments in their company. They should have a mix of strategic, tactical, regulatory, and growth initiatives to name a few. This means that the people requesting the projects should put together business plans that map to corporate goals and show the predicted financial impacts over a five year period.

But you can't stop there. Like all smart investors, once you buy a stock or bond, you typically monitor the performance of that investment. The last thing you need is to be stuck with a few thousand shares of stock that has plummeted from $100 a share to a penny stock. I have seen companies watch projects pass the point of diminishing returns to the point where they pour money month after month into projects that are so late they will never pay out.

Many people view Portfolio Management as another wasteful process initiative. In my experience over the years, many of the issues I have seen in IT stem from an ineffective prioritization process, no visibility into resource allocation and utilization, lack of alignment with corporate goals (if there are any), and lack of visibility into project costs. The end result is a ton of people working very hard, but not working very smart.


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"If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there"

"Before you build a better mouse trap, make sure you have some mice"