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Gartner Says PPM Leaders Must Prepare for Extreme Transformation or Prepare New Résumés

New Delhi : Ongoing economic uncertainty is driving IT-enabled business transformation well beyond the scope of previous practices and existing workplace experience, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner said that program and portfolio management (PPM) leaders must prepare for a greater number of business transformation projects and programs with higher expectations for results, and requiring engagement outside basic PPM practices.

“Today, due to the turbulent nature of business, supporting strategic initiatives and adapting to market changes brings greater scrutiny upon all PPM leaders,” said Robert Handler, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “It will also drive the acquisition of much-needed organization change management and business process change management capabilities. The increased severity of coming changes will serve to highlight PPM skill and practice deficiencies, and bring about increased recognition of the value of advanced practices.”

To cut across silos and connect strategy to program execution, Gartner predicts that most C-suites in the largest global organizations will rely on activist enterprise program management office (EPMO) leaders by 2017. This prediction is driven by two distinct factors. The first is the increasing pressure toward innovation and differentiation as economies and businesses emerge from the recession. The second is that organizations need to significantly improve their ability to execute on strategy.

“Over the past five years, we’ve seen a significant trend toward interest and adoption of an EPMO leader, where the “P” might stand for program, portfolio or a combination of both. The majority of EPMO leaders currently have the task of providing visibility and decision support to business executives,” said Donna Fitzgerald, research vice president at Gartner. “What most of them haven’t been asked to do is actually get something done. We see that situation changing as the concept of the EPMO becomes increasingly accepted.”

Ms. Fitzgerald said that the role of an activist EPMO leader is to make sure that different business units are executing strategic work (projects and programs) that contribute to the wider business perspective when the work is completed. In the past, organizations in transition have accomplished this by one of the members of the C-suite serving in this role (often the CFO or the COO). The trend toward assigning this function to someone who can influence cooperative behavior, rather than attempting to compel compliance with plans, is becoming particularly attractive as a way to avoid political turf battles among various divisions.

All this amounts to a new PPM leader role emerging. As always, with a new role, there will be a shortage of skilled labor to fulfill the demand. Professional service organizations will be unable to fill the void, because the role will require organic, internally developed power and influence through existing relationships across organizations. Successful organizations will promote from within. Technology vendors offering program portfolio tools, primarily as dashboards to support visibility of strategic change initiatives, will emerge or evolve. “The vendors that provide both the technology and methodology to connect these dashboards to the actual change initiatives will be the ones with staying power,” said Ms. Fitzgerald.

“Organizational change is clearly at the centre of what a transformation program is supposed to achieve, but is too often ignored because the program manager lacks the needed skills,” added Ms. Fitzgerald. “Without the right people and changes to process, the planned benefits of the program don’t materialize, no matter how perfectly the technology aspects of the program are executed. To deliver an effective, integrated outcome, all three aspects of the current reality — people, process and technology — must be transformed in concert.”

As a result, Gartner predicts that by 2016, successful transformation program leaders will direct 60 per cent of the program budget to organizational/business process change activities. Successful programs take account of how much change a business can undergo in any given period and will stay below that threshold to avoid change fatigue. Therefore, work is planned in logical increments and business users have sufficient knowledge of what is expected of them and when. Explicitly defining the resources in IT and business needed to manage and enable change will help to mitigate change fatigue.

“Organizations that approach project and program management as a skill that talented managers can learn — and therefore invest in growing program managers from multiple areas of their business — will have the highest success rate with their transformation programs,” said Mr. Handler. “It’s easy to learn the mechanics of project management. What can’t easily be taught is the domain expertise and knowledge of how people can be supported and led through significant change.”


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