"In my previous blog, I discussed some things I have learned from the previous crisis back in 2008. This time, I want to discuss trends in Portfolio & Project management that help you tackle the recession challenges and that will allow any Enterprise PMO to prove their added value."

As a niche player in the area of Portfolio & Project Management for more than 20 years now, we have gradually built our community of people with a passion for Project & Program Management, Portfolio Management, Lean/Agile techniques, PMO,… We know the risk that PMO & Portfolio Managers might quickly shift up the list of “low-hanging fruit” FTE/Cost reduction targets. Bad decision, at least if we look at the past but understandable if a PMO cannot prove its added value to a CEO. Also understandable if a PMO has no clear action plan to tackle the recession and become one of the pillars a Senior Management team can rely on to realize a portfolio of well-considered investments.

Every company, every industry will (must) position itself a bit differently on how to tackle the recession. However, from experience, we anticipate following trends for our community when being hit by recession.

1. Increased focus on Resource Management

Visualizing the allocation of scarce resources for the upcoming months (Mid-term resource management) and visualizing the longer term feasibility of any larger investments that need approval, will become even more key again.

2. Benefits Management breakthrough, finally.

Although a hot topic for already a few years for the inner circle, a better link between strategy and projects AND the actual tracking of benefit realization didn’t reach that many executive boardrooms yet. Like every crisis creates opportunities, this might be the moment where CEO's will pull Benefits Management up themselves.

3. Boost for (Hybrid) Agile techniques

Going back to the study of Gulati, Nohria & Wohlgezogen we see the advice to invest sufficiently in the more incremental Market development and Operational Efficiency areas. Putting your best people (business & delivery) together, aim at a constant flow of value delivery, reducing business/value risk, … Sounds like a warm invite to use more agile techniques, right? (Hybrid) Agile will sure spread far beyond large IT environments!

4. Raise the bar for Expert Project Managers

When Senior Managers have reduced means to do strategic projects, they will become more severe on the expertise of the Project Manager leading these projects. “Average” Project Managers who only survived because of capacity issues in a rather heating economy (pre-Corona), will suffer. Talent Development AND Certification will surely get extra focus!

5. Increased focus on cost & change control

Let’s be realistic, less means will (rightfully, sometimes luckily) lead to more discussion in any project selection and to an increased pressure to track not only benefits (item 2) but also cost expenditures of projects more accurately.

Taking the five points mentioned above into account, I believe Enterprise PMO's can prove their high value in supporting their CEO.

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Reference: Gulati, R., Nohria, N. & Wohlgezogen, F., “Roaring Out Of Recession”, (March 2010 Edition of Harvard Business Review)

Tom Dedecker

Tom Dedecker
CEO Threon

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