Program and Portfolio Management (PPM) – Invaluable, Yet Underused

“From top to bottom, organizations will be compelled to change entire mindsets, attitudes, and assumptions about how they operate, how they can grow, and even about the very reason for their existence,” Hoque writes. “Change, as driven by technology, is as much an adjustment of mindset as it is a new set of tools that everyone must learn how to use.”

Failure and innovation go hand-in-hand—there’s no escaping it.

Leaders need to foster a work environment where it’s acceptable to mess up, Hoque advises. You must be willing to experiment, fail and try again.”


Looking to clean out and organize your garage? You’re practicing Portfolio and Program Management (PPM).

Portfolio and Program Management (PPM) is an organization-wide focus on defining, gathering, categorizing, analyzing and overseeing information relating to corporate assets and activity. PPM provides management a focused and inclusive view of the benefits of various projects while also highlighting risks.

Many companies don’t use this as extensively or consistently as they could because they view it only in financial terms–or they dismiss as a software tool or a tactical approach for managing projects. At its best, however, PPM takes all of an organization’s assets and activities into account. It is a way of operating that gives the entire enterprise, from the boardroom down, better information to develop strategies, manage risk and execute more effectively.

Effective PPM can help a company better align technology spending with current and future business needs. PPM creates information and insight to help executives and managers make a variety of decisions, including:

  • Defining business improvement options and strategies
  • Analyzing impact of potential initiatives
  • Setting target allocations for varied investment categories
  • Evaluating and making decisions on project requests
  • Evaluating the strength of digital assets
  • Determining appropriate sequencing of major programs
  • Managing risk mitigation
  • Identifying and resolving critical project-related issues

Portfolios can be arranged around various categories, such as:

  • Asset-related portfolios. These include technology assets and other non-financial resources.
  • Project-level portfolios. This takes in planned projects and other activities, with a defined beginning and conclusion.
  • Enterprise project portfolios. These can help with a variety of activities, such as identifying synergies and redundancies in projects and proposals.
  • Program-level portfolios. This covers groups of related projects that need to be managed in a coordinated way.

But PPM can impact other areas beyond its central focus:

  • Compliance and risk management. PPM supports analysis of organizational vulnerabilities and business objectives, developing prototypic risk mitigation approaches and categorizing varied forms of risk into portfolios.
  • Technology strategy. The evaluation of technology assets, among other functions.
  • Approval and prioritization. Evaluating the expected business value of different projects as well as potential risks.

One common oversight is assuming that the PPM methodology is specific just to projects.

But leveraging PPM to its maximum potential mandates careful coordination and organization, including:

  • Structure, classification and thoughtful assignment of responsibilities. This incorporates an Enterprise Program Management Office (EPMO) which serves as a point group for managing and coordinating portfolios.
  • Compiling and organizing information. This is effectively a comprehensive inventory of company resources and functions to allocate them in the most constructive manner possible.
  • Plan analysis and development. This can involve delineating assets and financial support to drive portfolio activity—ideally, reviewed on a regular basis to consider reallocation if necessary.
  • Monitor performance. Metrics should be developed and applied to gauge outcomes and identify any possible adjustments.

Like anything else, PPM works best when carefully thought out and consistently used as well as updated. Like a well-organized garage that’s neglected, PPM can effectively go to seed if the goal of staying a successful course lacks commitment.

Adapted from REINVENT: Navigating Business Transformation in a Hyperdigital Era by Faisal Hoque (Fast Company Press, 2023), in association with IMD. All rights reserved.

REINVENT debuted as the #1 The Wall Street Journal bestseller and is The 21st Annual American Business Awards®, 2023 Best Business Book of The Year, The The Stevie® Awards Silver Winner.

Copyright (c) 2023 by Faisal Hoque. All rights reserved.

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