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Projects, Programme, Portfolios and other Business Transformation mechanisms

There is often some confusion between Projects, Programmes and Portfolios, and these terms are used interchangeably and inconsistently by organisations.

A Project is a mechanism to organise people, resources and suppliers to deliver a business objective, eg. the implementation of a new IT system. A project is normally comprised of workstreams.

A Programme is a larger, more complex undertaking, and it can be comprised of projects or indeed other smaller programmes. Programmes are often enabled by IT or technology and normally have a large business change element to them, eg. organisational change or transformation initiatives.

A Portfolio is a collection of programmes and projects, and can represent for example the entirety of an organisation’s project and programme activity. In portfolio management, we often talk of ‘running the business’ (and delivering ‘business as usual’ projects) and simultaneously ‘changing the business’ (by delivering new non-typical or novel organisational change projects). Portfolio management allows the organisation to0 review and prioritise all these kinds of projects and programmes, to plan and deliver the best outcomes, given the total resources and other constraints.

Related to the above is Business Change Management, which includes the planning, support and communications to enable business change / transformation programmes to be successful, especially with respect to any affected users or stakeholders.

In contrast, Business Transformation Management is more radical, wherein the objective is to deliver larger, more strategic business benefits, by doing things in a new way, eg. re-engineering an organisation’s key processes or launching a new product suite.

A Project (or Programme or Portfolio) Management Office (PMO) can support such projects and changes and can come in several types, from supportive to directive. The PMO is often a Centre of Excellence (CoE) in project / programme / portfolio management and provides the standards, tools, training and quality assurance for the delivery and change work.

There are best-practice methodologies to support and describe the above topics, but it is a combination of theory and practice that enables the most successful outcomes.

Published by Paul Yewman on behalf of John Bridges.

As a highly experienced Interim Executive, specialising in the above areas, John has worked with many blue-chip organisations across the UK to plan, lead and deliver these kind of important business initiatives.

Want to find out how John and other members of interim.team can help you be more successful? Drop me a line, we love to talk.