Project portfolio management (PPM) is about managing your projects effectively and efficiently. This ensures you don’t end up with a bunch of half-completed projects. While this may sound like a simple concept, many pitfalls along the way make it easy for companies to fall into bad habits when managing their project portfolios.
PPM requires you to build a clear picture of each project in terms of its scope, schedule, budget, risks, dependencies, quality attributes, and more. The key here is that you need to use these metrics to determine if the project will deliver value to the organization.
Here are some common PPM mistakes you should avoid:
1. Not having a well-defined plan
Without a well-defined plan, it’s impossible to know how much work needs to be done or what steps must be taken. Even though you have an idea of what you want to do, you can’t actually get started until you’ve figured out exactly how to accomplish that goal.
Thus, you first need to define your goals before starting work on a new project. Once you understand where you want to go, you’ll be able to determine which resources you need to bring to bear on the project. A plan helps you keep track of everything you need to do so you don’t forget anything important.
2. Overlooking risk
Risk doesn’t just mean things that could go wrong; it also includes the potential impact that something might not happen at all. For example, a project may require too much time, money, or effort. Even just one of those three elements can impact the project’s course.
You need to identify these risks early to mitigate them. If you wait until after you’ve already begun working on a project to consider what could go wrong, you might find yourself scrambling to fix problems that you could have avoided had you identified them earlier.
3. Not breaking down tasks into smaller pieces
Projects can be very overwhelming when you take it all in at once. This is why breaking down large projects into manageable chunks is important. Each chunk represents a small piece of the overall task. By breaking down the big job into smaller parts, you can better manage expectations and ensure that you meet your deadlines.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should forget the big picture. Ensure that each team working on the project understands what they’re supposed to accomplish. Otherwise, you run the risk of creating unnecessary delays because someone didn’t fully understand the entire scope of the project.
4. Poor project governance
PPM requires leaders that can set direction while maintaining focus on the long term. You need to establish processes that help you stay organized and focused. At the same time, you need to encourage innovation by allowing people to try different approaches.
A good framework for ensuring that your projects remain on track involves:
- Establishing goals
- Defining roles
- Setting timeline
- Reviewing progress
- Resolving issues
These activities allow you to organize your daily efforts and ensure that everyone involved has a stake in the success of a given project.
5. Overlooking budget
A project’s budget is often overlooked during the planning stages. However, without a clear understanding of how much money you will need to complete the project, you won’t be able to create a realistic plan. You need to factor in additional expenses such as travel, supplies, and training. These factors can add up quickly if you aren’t careful. The more accurate you are about the costs associated with a project, the easier it will be to predict its completion date.
While it’s good to have confidence in your abilities, it’s even more important to maintain realistic expectations about the results you’ll obtain from a particular project. Sometimes, we tend to overestimate our skills, leading us astray.
When this happens, it can affect an entire team. It’s easy to see the benefits of being optimistic, but you’ll pay the price if you don’t approach optimism with some caution. As such, project managers need to use proper estimation tools and techniques to make sure their estimates are accurate.
7. Failing to hire enough resources
It’s hard to build momentum when there isn’t anyone around who can share ideas or collaborate with other team members. When you lack sufficient manpower, your team may feel burnt out. In turn, you miss out on valuable opportunities due to low morale.
To avoid this problem, ensure that you hire competent individuals willing to work together. You may also want to consider whether or not you need to expand your team. If you struggle to keep up with the workload, it would be beneficial to bring in extra help.
The bottom line
PPM can be tricky and challenging since you must balance different variables simultaneously. To succeed, you need to put in the effort and take the necessary steps to achieve a successful outcome. However, knowing which mistakes to avoid will make PPM easier over time. With practice, you’ll develop the ability to manage multiple teams and projects effectively.