This week was an educational week at the Gartner Program & Portfolio Management (PPM) Summit 2017 in Orlando - Florida. I love the PPM subject and even get excited when I learn about trends and how I can make a difference in my job for people and business success. The theme this year was “Delivering Innovation and Leading Transformation”. (I would even add the word “Faster”).
The focus of this summit was about providing guidance in how we can remain relevant as Program and Portfolio Managers in the Digital transformation era. The presentations and case studies provided guidance in how IT Strategy can move faster. They also discussed bringing agile and continuous assessment to the IT Roadmap, and making investments and programs to deliver products continuously.
Donna Fitzgerald, opened the keynote session with the 3 “Ws”: “WHY, HOW and WHAT”. These are questions that we should ask ourselves because “success requires adopting an Inside-Out Perspective”.
Do you have a personally compelling vision of the future?
Do you have a vision of yourself as a “Change agent”?
How do we RETHINK, REINVENT and REIMAGE everything we do today?
Here are the key takeaways
During the conference, Gartner have a graphic designer making live sketches about the key sessions. All these sketches become part of the last keynote remarks session as key takeaways presented by Donna. In case you missed them, I have them below:
1. Practice Shoshin and Zenovate Projects
The world is changing and the way that we do business is changing as well. As a result, we need to innovate the way we think and perform as program managers. We may fall into some traps that make us think that we are in the right track; when instead we are really investing in non-relevant programs. As program managers, we need to bring agility, try the new, and take risks to make ourselves and the business succeed.
The current strategy of taking 3-5 years to plan the portfolio is signing up the business for failure. We need to re-think “Agile” for the Strategy planning.
The idea here is to have a couple of phases to try the idea before investing heavily. These phases include doing an initial prototype (even in paper), get feedback from the users, test the market and then define if that idea is the best way to go with. Have a minimum viable product (MVP) to validate before fully investing in it.
This reminds me of how B2C marketers work. Leveraging some of those best practices is not a bad idea.
2. It is about the soft skills
Re-image yourself, think “future” and bring the best out of your teams—including stakeholders. Be transparent, be open for changes and create opportunities. Be ready to evolve to the roles of product management. Accomplishing this requires an innovation mindset and communication.
3. Always have a vision of where you are going and support your network
This seems like an old school, but it is still very relevant in the Digital Transformation. “Nearly 87 percent of businesses fail to deliver on stated strategic targets for a given year*”
Ideas and customer feedback are inundating IT. It is vital to have a vision and continuous plan for IT to keep them focused.
Became a trusted advisor, move from Portfolio management to co-creating opportunities. Analyze the market, get feedback from internal and external customers and design for business success.
4. Program leadership is where the action is. (AKA, Get good at herding cats and geese)
The way we create, develop, maintain and deliver applications and IT services are changing more and more. Every single day we hear about a new Agile term, a new process framework, and a new piece of technology. Distributed or outsourced Agile or legacy waterfall teams bring complexity on top of the technology changes. The challenge is how to manage strategy and deliver the portfolio with all these different variables that changes every day?
When managing these teams, think about how the team operates and responds to the challenges. Look at the logical, emotional and cultural aspects of the members. Learn about the different process frameworks and learn how to manage the teams.
Use technology to bridge the distance, add cloud base agile solutions integrated to portfolio management to gain visibility and manage resources, cost and risks constantly in the executive level.
Some keywords to keep in mind as a Pprogram manager to make you successful: communication, simplification, focus on value, discipline with flexibility, reliability, and influence others.
5. Everything is connected
More than ever, with IoT coming and to continue to deliver value to customers, we need to start thinking about how everything is connected.
This session discussed a new term “Dependency Management” to bring improved process and technology—as well as important customer experience and value.
6. Products are the new projects (in application development)
I can say that when I heard about transitioning projects to products, I was a bit surprised – and it was in a DevOps discussion. I have been hearing more and more about customers starting to go through this transition. Let me say that this is a trend within the application development within IT when executing Agile projects.
At this event, a customer shared their journey and the initial conversation was about “Why, When, What and How”, with a focus on HOW to do it.
Because IT is transitioning to a software business mentality, there is a need to manage each product strategically, with the product lifecycle in mind. IT organizations should have a single view of commitments as an “IT Enterprise Portfolio Roadmap” to drive planning for deployment and market impact, breaking down to a Product Roadmap and Sprint Roadmap.
The key for success in this situation goes back to keeping the eye in the vision and customer experience. But the question remains, how do we get there?
7. It is not about how you deliver, It is about value of what you deliver
Absolute VALUE! And value translates on customer experience (either internal or external).
As per Mathew Hotle, >50 percent tech spending is occurring outside of IT. Why this change? Because IT cannot deliver fast as business demands.
In my point of view, one of the key questions from Matt was: How must governance, portfolio management and resource management change to support the product-based organization?
Here are his recommended steps:
- Segment the portfolio
- Define products and roadmaps
- Adopt Agile Methods
- Change the organization and Culture
8. People are the Digital Advantage
Connecting Process to People! How we do it? We accomplish this by bringing process, customer and employee experience to your arsenal.
Most of the times when we design a new application, we don’t think about the end-to-end experience. We create a new app to bring efficiency to an end user or employee’s life but it ends up causing big frustrations. I paid my car payment other day and I got an email saying that the payment was processed. A week later, I get a call saying that my payment didn’t went through due an incorrect account number and I was being charged for the delay. What a frustration!
A good example here is about UPS, everyone must drive the truck! It is about driving the car that you create, develop and sell. When we have a better understanding of our user experience we can make our business profitable.
The solution here is to review and combine the digital experience with the non-digital process. It is about understanding the customer journey and how your user does, thinks and feels about.
9. The Future of the Program Managers is insuring that strategy is executed
This was a very interesting topic across various presentations. The role of the program manager is to bring alignment in between strategy and execution. It is about continuous assessment to the portfolio to ensure value.
For that, the new PMO needs to think strategically, be aware of the cultural differences in the hybrid environments and have the right tools to support.
Is about asking: “WHY, HOW and WHAT”
We also talked about the project manager and business analysts roles.
Is the role of program, project manager and business analyst dead in the application development teams? Of course not!
Some of these roles may adapt over time for the Agile and DevOps environments, but how about legacy waterfall?
Matt Light shared how the roles have been already changing. He performed research showing that around 76 percentage of project managers are already versatile on leading and planning projects. 70 percent of project managers are involved directly on execution and implementation of the deliverables. In my past experience as PM, that was really what happened. 87 percent of these project managers double their roles as business analysts.
With all of these skills, more and more project managers are becoming Scrum masters or product managers and Business Analysts are taking over the product owner role.
We are in a time of transformation and I definitely recommend you to embark and enjoy the future!
Learn more about Micro Focus Project and Portfolio Management solution that helps you to bring together data from Agile and Legacy teams to be on top of your Strategy and Execution.
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