Another seemingly simple but frequently encountered illusion is that the project portfolio management process can somehow go ahead without the direct involvement of the executive management. Very frequently when teaching my public project portfolio management masterclass I am engaged in the following conversation with at least one of my "students":
S: Hi, my name is Pascal, and I am a newly-appointed Director of Portfolio Management at company X. My goals today are to learn as much as possible about practical PPM and implement it once I get back to our headquarters.
Me: Will your executive management participate in the process?
S: No, unfortunately not. They are very busy people, you know ... But they assured me I would have their full support in this undertaking!
S: Hopefully I will do that once I am done with the course.
Me: Understood. Let me paint the following picture for you, and you can tell me at the end whether this sounds as a plausible scenario. You create the scoring matrix, balance and strategic alignment models. At one point of time you are approached by your company's CEO or Senior VP who asks you to add this "very important project" to the organizational portfolio and initiate it as soon as possible. However upon analyzing the proposal, you come back to you boss and tell her that the project will not be going ahead because it scored only five out of the possible 50 points in the prioritization model. What do you think her response will be?
S: She will ask me who created the model!
Me: And once you reply that the model was your creation, what is the likely response?
S: She will probably say something to the effect of that the creation of such models wasn't really in my domain of responsibilities.
Me: Aha! And we haven't even touched the questions regarding company's mission and strategy that ties directly into the formation of the portfolio! Now you see why executive involvement is absolutely essential?
What is your opinion on this matter? Do you think that:
- Project portfolio management issues should be addressed by the PMO (Manager of PPM, Director of PPM, etc.)
- Executives should participate in making PPM decisions
- Executives should participate in the creation of the PPM processes, but can return to the hands-off approach later