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Project Portfolio Management Best Practices in the SOA Landscape

Finding a balance between maintaining the old while ushering in the new is a perennial problem for IT. As George Lawton explains in an article for TechTarget, project management is good for getting the new stuff going, but for maintaining the old service-oriented infrastructure, there’s nothing like some good ole project portfolio management.

Projects vs. Project Portfolios

In project management, the focus is on goals, resources, and constraints. Each project is mostly self-contained to avoid dependencies. Yet in project portfolio management, awareness of interdependencies allows for leveraging economies of scale and of scope.

For refreshment’s sake, a portfolio consists of many programs of which there often multiple projects. And as you may already know, this often entails hundreds of projects spanning the entire organization. Therefore a project manager’s interests are more limited than those of a PPM, for whom more project resources are not always a good thing. In other words PPMs’ interests are more inclusive. If divesting of resources for a particular project helps to fix a non-working dependency, then that becomes an acceptable tradeoff.

4 Levels of PPM Maturity

The four levels of PPM maturity, as cited from Mark Jeffery of the Kellogg School, are: 1. Ad-hoc, 2. Defined, 3 Managed, and 4. Synchronized. Most organizations have reached a level of managing their project portfolios, but few have been able to truly synchronize their efforts through measuring risk and smart funding allocation based on regular reviews with leadership.

Fun Metrics

The key is to initiate projects that can be measured to begin with. One way to do this involves bringing together leadership with technical teams for a measurement brainstorming session, followed up by a four-hour comprehensive system assessment (sounds like fun, right?). Well, it beats the pants off of developer death marches at the end of projects, and usually results in a better experience for customers and programmers alike.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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