What is a PPPM Vision?

Project/Program Portfolio Management (PPPM)
By PH Lohnes, PMP

While a series of post will in detail show how an organization can define a PPM Vision (a PPPM Maturity Roadmap), a required initial step is the understanding of what is a PPPM vision, who should define the vision, where the vision should find support, and how the vision should be disseminated to the organization. This post will provide these initial PPPM vision characteristics.

What is a PPPM vision?
A PPPM vision as in any business-related vision is the roadmap of how a commercial or nonprofit entity will organize, implement, and measure progress towards a goal through the achievement of certain objectives. The goal or “strategic horizon” is where or how the entity wants to be or change in order to garner the benefits of obtaining that state of being. For most commercial entities it is clothed in terms of sales of products or services while for nonprofits, it is the achievement of an ideal through the offering of a product or service without the overriding need to generate excess funds.

So with the clinical definition of a goal or vision in view, a PPPM vision is thus the “strategic horizon” of where an entity would like to progress towards in the implementation of project/program portfolio maturity thus that the construction, execution, monitoring, and management of project activities produces the desired benefits either profit or ideological oriented. This roadmap is all encompassing, overarching, and drives all PPPM decisions for the entity.

Finally, the PPPM vision must alignment with the entity’s strategic mission or vision of existence since the use of PPPM activities is one arrow in senior management’s quiver of tools to achieve its reason for organizing in the first place.

Who should define the PPPM vision?
This is the easiest characteristic to address since the PPPM vision can only come from the senior leadership of an organization. Only the leadership team has the right, the power, and most importantly the resources necessary to achieve the PPPM vision. However, this characteristic is why most visions never seem to materialize — senior management is often off track doing tactical or non-strategic activities. Keeping the “C-level” focused on providing appropriate vision has always been difficult which is why most business and nonprofit organizations are mediocre. The best organizations are usually headed by executives of almost superhuman vision and drive. This is the primary difference between a good leader and an effective manager (another post, of course.)

Where the PPPM vision should be supported?
As with any vision, the support is top-down loaded which is to  indicate that vision is defined, developed, and driven from the senior leadership perspective. The executive team is not allowed to “delegate” this activity in any  meaningful manner. A non-senior level vision becomes tactical by nature since only the seniors can outfit a strategic vision by definition.

How the PPPM vision should be disseminated?
This characteristic is where failure of a vision finds its roots in most organizations. In my consulting practice that spans over 28 years, I cannot count the number of vision carcasses lying around rotting in the corners of the executive conference room or in the file cabinets of the seniors. The stench is almost visible, but due to protocols and/or difference to the executives, the smell is never mentioned — just the air freshener of “a new vision” is copiously applied knowing that it will soon become the part of the “strategic decomp” lingering in the rarified air of the organization’s executive floors.

A vision to remain viable, healthy, and formidable must be disseminated to all within the organization for without this dissemination, life will soon leak out of the vision and the “scourge of the urgent” will take over sapping resources and energies. A vision is extremely difficult to keep muscled — it takes constant work, “tweaking,” and refocusing since a strategy if nothing else must be flexible to meet the dynamics of both business and ideology. The human condition demands an organization move with the changing environment even if the “strategic horizon” remains static — how that horizon is achieved is the most fluid of all.

The dissemination of the PPPM vision shares this need to be both clarified and dynamic. The vision must be clear at all levels of the project management hierarchy in the form appropriate to the specific level. This means that the project manager does not need to know everything the seniors know, but they need to know how the PPPM vision is impacted by their decisions and their achievements. Program managers need to understand how resource efficiency impacts the maturing of the PPPM discipline, and the portfolio manager must surely know the strategic impact of their construction decisions on the makeup of the portfolios for which they are responsible. The dissemination of the PPPM vision needs to be done frequently and in different, innovative venues not just the normal executive memo on the subject.

A full series of future posts will fill in the blanks on how a PPPM vision (PPPM maturity roadmap) is defined and implemented. For now, a vision must be top-down defined, developed, and disseminated to have even a chance of not becoming a break room joke.


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