every project delivers its intended business value,
Of course, mapping deliverables onto strategic
objectives is easier said than done, says Ms. Chang.
While mission statements and published annual
goals paint one part of the picture, often it’s internal
objectives that more concretely de;ne where an
organization is trying to go.
“Sometimes it’s very easy to make out what your
organization values, and sometimes it’s di;cult.
You have to do some investigation work to get that
understanding,” Ms. Chang says.
Only once portfolio managers have that strategic understanding in place can they work toward
achieving it, she says. “When you know what that
success picture is, it’s lining up your team, lining up
your skill set and lining up your portfolio structure
to get you there,” she says.
While slow growth puts more urgency on securing
the right people for the right projects, global talent
shortages have made those people harder to find.
Worldwide, 35 percent of employers report having difficulty filling jobs due to a lack of available
talent, according to a 2013 study by ManpowerGroup, a global workforce solution provider based
in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. This is the highest
proportion of employers expressing concern about
talent shortages since 2007, when it hit 41 percent.
The talent shortage makes it even more important to select the right projects and programs,
says Blaze Goraj, PMP, HP Enterprise Services,
“As the right resources are very expensive, it’s vi-
tal to make the right investment,” he says. “Deciding
where to invest is crucial because we have a limited
number of people with the right capabilities.”
More than half of the companies surveyed by
the ManpowerGroup said a lack of qualified talent
was impacting their client-facing abilities. And an
increased number of organizations said talent short-
ages were hurting business outcomes.
The necessity for understanding local and cultur-
al differences can further shrink the available pool,
Mr. Goraj says. “In different cultures and different
countries, you deal with a crisis in different ways,”
he says. “Sometimes you need to deal with things
face-to-face rather than making a phone call to
deal with the situation.”
When talent is in short supply, the cost of replac-
ing individuals who leave an organization rises.
Investing in retaining those people can reduce the
costs of attrition and make a portfolio more suc-
cessful, Mr. Goraj says.
“We need to be able to quantify that losing
person A will cost us X amount of money,” he
says. “We can and we should invest that amount
of money to avoid that. It is the risk management
aspect of people management.”
TAKE IN THE WHOLE PICTURE
To help their companies excel amid timid growth,
portfolio managers have to take a broad view of
business value and ROI. Looking at the overall value
of the portfolio, not just individual projects, allows
portfolio managers to identify e;ciencies and discover hidden value, Mr. Eacker says.
For instance, a chemical company’s project
to build a plant that produces ammonia may
not seem to be a high-value endeavor—until it
becomes clear that the ammonia will be used as a
raw material in producing a higher-value product.
A strong understanding of these relationships can
help ensure the portfolio is optimized properly,
Mr. Eacker says.
And when growth is hard to ;nd, every advantage, no matter how small, can make a big di;er-ence. PM
“When a business case is created, we ensure that we
follow a phased approach. This enables a project to
stop at a logical point, and thus restart is easier.”
—Marna Schoeman, PMP