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Straight Talk IT

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Collaboration and team working have always been essential components of successful projects, but in today's technology-driven environment, the composition of the teams and the nature of collaboration have changed. Digitization of business processes and the incorporation of technology into a wide range of products and services are major trends across all sectors. Digital projects are therefore no longer siloed within departments, but involve active participation and ownership from line-of-business stakeholders across a diverse range of business functions, from marketing to supply chain management and from IT to customer service. In this context, project portfolio management (PPM) and governance best practice must evolve to meet the needs of these diverse groups, while PPM solutions must empower different roles across the organization, some of whom may be less familiar with project management processes and disciplines.

The nature of project teams has also changed, with a virtual team involving both in-house (often distributed) and third-party resources becoming the norm. This in turn has an impact on the collaboration and coordination required from project managers, and on the requirements of project management and PPM tools. It is important that project interactions are easily propagated across a team, and that the project manager has access to all necessary data to report on and communicate project progress.

At a portfolio level, both stakeholder diversity and virtual teams add complexity to decision-making and make it essential to provide clear visibility into project attributes, including resources, methodologies, timescales, and outcomes. Governance and risk management are particular concerns because the scope of digital projects often extends beyond the remit of existing structures and practices, however effective these may be. Change management issues are similarly extended across a broader swathe of the organization, and will require stronger coordination to achieve success.

The combination of these factors has made an enterprise PPM approach and an enterprise project management office (EPMO) more common, although still in a significant minority (particularly when one looks behind aspirational titles). We also see a number of organizations establishing a digital program office or similar construct, but this cannot be effective in the long term if it exists in isolation from established PPM systems. Ovum's recommendation is to develop and extend the current PPM and governance principles to incorporate the wider scope of digital projects, to provide suitable training to all those involved in these initiatives, and to make greater use of PPM solutions to improve collaboration, coordination, and visibility across the digital portfolio.

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