The PPPM Roadmap Components: Discipline

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

I have taken a bit more time to prepare this post since it involves an area that I have seen contribute to  most of the problems in project management — enforcing or enacting professional discipline (PD).

What do I mean by professional discipline (PD)?

PD is the enforcement of organizational policies, rules, regulations, processes, procedures and activities (PD standards) that implement the PPPM vision and mandate. Now this may sound like high school recriminations, but when organizational management does not hold its project management staff to PD standards than the entire project management environment suffers.

Working as a portfolio consultant at a client recently (no, I am no going to give away anything that will identify the client or industry), I wrote, spoke, emailed, discussed, and even did a little begging in an attempt to get the senior project management team and even the SLT to understand that enforcing PD was paramount if they wanted to correct the current set of problems they were experiencing with their PPPM implementation. They looked at me as if I was asking them beat their employees — not just hold them accountable to do their jobs.

In one very perplexing case, I was told that we were to put out reports with “bad or missing” data as this would show the users of the reports how their lack of data input discipline (a large part of PD) was evident in the poor quality of the report. The SLT member that told me that this would cause them to improve their data discipline and over time the reports would be more useful!!! After picking my jaw off the floor, I mentioned that I had to respectfully disagree with him — always a dangerous position for a consultant to take. I stood my ground, but was overruled.

My guess is that this now ex-client’s poor reports will continue long into the future without cure or remediation. One of the issues that I have found plaguing many organizations from the US Government, healthcare, defense, intelligence, manufacturing, retail, education to small-to-medium (SMB) businesses is the lack of the SLT members to enforce appropriate PD! Project managers seem to think that they can get by with just “talking” their team members into compliance — it “don’t” (sic) work that way, folks!!

Enforcing PD is a component of the PPPM roadmap as much as the component of focus, training, and the setting of goals and objectives. It is the primary function of management to enforce standards and compliancy. It is the nature of the employee to resist. Why? Simple inertia! A body stays at rest unless acted upon by an external force. This is a physical world axiom and it is true in the management world. The SLT members must enforce their PD standards for without which the rest of the PPPM roadmap components will have little foundational support.

Next post will deal with the next PPPM component: implementations. Continue to develop your own PPPM vision and roadmap as we work through these issues.

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