Call it what you like -- SharePoint, Intuit, Central Desktop -- project portfolio management is here to stay. A few months ago, Gartner predicted that the role of Project Portfolio Management (PPM) would begin to evolve from just managing business projects to managing value and change. As business strategies transform to focus on both people and technologies, PPM has the potential to help the enterprise get things done.

PPM Matters to Social Business

A recent article published by Alex Adamopoulos, CEO and Paul Dolman-Darrall, Executive Vice President for Global Delivery and Strategy at Emergn, an international PPM and agile consultancy based in London, lists 5 reasons why PPM will matter to CIOs in 2012. Among them, the authors cite improvements to workflow and idea sharing, as well as increased alignment between IT and the bottom line.

Much of the discussion centered around PPM and its integration into the enterprise is very similar to ones focused on elements of social business. But are they necessarily one and the same? In her article “Social Business Success in 2012: Simplicity is the Key,” my colleague, Chelsi Nakano, writes

Social Business tools facilitate communication -- they make it easier to have and to come by, but they can’t be depended on to fully actualize it."

We’d argue that PPM is similar because it still relies on manual processes to get the work done. That’s not to say that its presence doesn’t bring some benefits. Both Adamopoulous and Dolman-Darrall are correct when they say

IT involvement earlier in the lifecycle will contribute to better decisions and choices made with the business. It will improve visibility into necessary investments and resources required to meet demand and will allow a more transparent environment for how things get done."

Add Value Plus IT

When it comes to selecting the right PPM tool, it’s important to understand the ways it can add value to the project management process. Most offices have their own methods of tracking assignments but may lack elements that encourage knowledge-sharing and cross-promotion. As a result, Emergn calls on PPM to add trust and integrity into the process. They write

… a CIO who gets IT involved earlier in the portfolio management process and embedded more will also help craft a working model that has much better checkpoints and gateways for decision-making and therefore result in a framework with more integrity and less bureaucracy."

It behooves IT to get involved in many cross-departmental initiatives from eDiscovery to marketing to vendor selections, but their presence is not usually welcomed. IT has an image problem, but their guidance and expertise can help companies avoid bottlenecks and imminent risks, as well as help save money, time and energy. It’s not surprising that IT needs to add PPM to their long list of things they need to embrace. According to the authors, by inserting themselves into the process earlier, 

it will improve visibility into necessary investments and resources required to meet demand and will allow a more transparent environment for how things get done."

The secret to PPM success in 2012 seems to do more with the role of CIO than with actual technology. Emergn agrees, writing that “CIOs who look at portfolio management as a lifecycle that permeates the whole business have an opportunity to be more strategic and insightful.” If the IT department aligns with business strategies, it will be poised to bring great things to life in 2012.