Categories: project portfolio
One of the main ideas that top management must maintain is that projects must be aligned with business objectives. This is where the concept of a project portfolio and the role of a Project Management Office (PMO) become important.
Let's suppose that a company establishes as a business objective to increase sales by 10% during the current year. Remember also that the objectives must be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time limited). In this scenario each area will come with its own projects, which require budget and time. For example, the sales area will present a project to acquire a new sales system through mobile devices. The human resources area will present another project that involves improving the infrastructure in which the staff currently works and the systems area will present a project to improve the technological infrastructure. Somehow, these areas will compete for scarce resources.
Which of the previous projects would have a higher priority?
At first glance it would seem that the sales system should be the highest priority project, since it is the one that most relates to the business objective ("increase sales"). Is this correct? If so, what would be the other project to prioritize?
The truth is that what at first seems to be the most appropriate, may require further analysis. What would be the real impact of acquiring that sales system? How long would the increase in sales allow us to recover our investment? Will there be another alternative solution with lower cost and greater impact? Defining if the projects are viable and which projects generate the greatest impact and which generate the highest ROI (return on investment) is an important task within the organizations to evaluate which projects contribute more significantly to the business objectives.
I am currently conducting a study on portfolio management and one of the first results confirms that several companies accept projects without analyzing if they contribute to their objectives.
On the other hand there are two other levels of alignment of additional objectives
1) Objectives of the team. For example, each area of the company defines its own objectives for the area and the team of people who work in it, will direct their efforts to comply with them. But these team objectives must maintain alignment with the main business objectives.
2) Personal objectives. Each member of a team has their own personal goals that can vary from covering their physiological needs, learn a new technology, lead teams, travel. etc. Probably when reading the latter one of the first words that comes to mind is "personal motivation" and the truth is that a person is more motivated to work, when the project in which he participates allows him to continue advancing in the fulfillment of his personal objectives.
The above applies to business, but if we generalize the same applies for our life in general. If we have an objective in life, we can analyze if the projects we initiate and the activities in which we engage contribute to the fulfillment of these objectives and we may discover that some of these activities in which we are involved do not contribute much and we could stop doing them, with which the time and effort devoted to other projects would bring us closer to the fulfillment of our main objective.