I was in discussion the other day with a project manager about where Essential fits with Project Portfolio Management (PPM) – There are lots of interpretations but we talked around the PPM model described by F Warren McFarlan (See this article for a very brief overview Putting the Project Puzzle Together).
If you consider all the factors that influence a project portfolio, which generally comprise both business and technology elements, it often gets trickier to define the tangible impacts and the value as you move towards the technology part of the discussion. Knowing that improving process X allows you to cut resource is only half the story; it becomes much more compelling if you also know that it means you can remove application Y and reduce the server costs and storage costs associated with it.
We think that when you consider the questions that you are trying to answer from the technology side, the route to the answers become clearer (and what you need to capture into Essential becomes evident). We came up with a list of ‘IT’ questions which we thought should feed in to the project portfolio debate:
- What processes does an application support? If we change the process then what is the impact?
- What technology does an application use? If we change or remove an application then what technology does it sit on, what storage does it use, is it replicated across environments?
- Where do we have common application services? Are we leveraging what we have got, or rebuilding something from the ground up?
There are lots more questions we could get into, but as a base we thought this would give us enough to start to build more compelling cases to feed into the PPM initiative. We may tie costs to some of these, some of which may be a best guess, but some of which would be accurate. We think that eventually we could end up getting the enterprise architecture tightly-coupled with the PPM processes, which will no doubt help with demonstrating the value of the EA effort.
We also decided that to start with we would focus on the areas where we knew the business already had project ideas, and we would start to populate Essential around those project ideas and the questions we came up with.
It will be interesting to see where we get to with this. If anyone has other experiences or ideas then do let us know.