Institutionalizing PPM: The Human Factor - Page 2

Apr 16, 2007

Jeff Monteforte

My preference is to have HR assist in writing a “contract to support change” that spells out the expected role and expectations for a manager. The contract could address several aspects, such as expected behavior, how their support will be measured, how this will impact their annual appraisal, incentives that can be earned, as well as penalties that may occur for lack of support.

Of course, each company is different and the contract must be tailored for the company. This is why I like asking HR to write it. Then, with senior management’s support, ask each manager to commit to the success of the PPM program.

You Said, What?

A lack of understanding nearly always results in a sensation of fear. The sense of fear nearly always results in resistance. Lack of communication, lack of proper education, and use of sloppy language is usually the root cause of a lack of understanding.

IT project portfolio management has a basic, yet unique language that is foreign to many business folks and a majority of IT professionals. As with any significant change, the roll-out of a PPM process requires a well planned communications plan.

The PPM communications should be leveraged to accomplish the following four objectives:

  • Educate the organization (business units and IT) on issues that justified the need for pursuing PPM;
  • Educate executives and managers on basic PPM terminology, so that they can properly represent and reinforce PPM throughout the organization;
  • Train the appropriate people throughout the organization who will be the practitioners of the PPM practice; and
  • Provide open and public forums to allow impacted individuals to voice concerns and feedback as well as give you the chance to directly challenge and disarm the “generic critic.”
  • Plausible Ignorance

    Despite your best efforts, some people will go out of their way to avoid acknowledging things have changed. They will say, “I assumed the change didn’t apply to my area.”, or “Why do we have to go through this process if the CEO says we have to do the project?”, and my personal favorite, “Its better to ask for forgiveness than seek permission.”

    This behavior makes its difficult to adopt any structured process, yet alone a highly visible process like PPM.

    An unfortunate truth is upper management will be the largest segment of this type of rogue behavior. Because of this, you will need to secure senior executive support prior to your PPM launch. You need to anticipate this form of resistance, get senior executives to acknowledge it is likely to occur, and get them to agree to shut down these rogues when they show themselves.

    Procedurally, you must tie the approval of project funds and resources to the selection and prioritization mechanisms of the PPM process.

    The Bottom Line

    If left unchecked, these resistors will not only stall the implementation of PPM in your company, but can likely submarine the whole effort causing PPM to become “an bureaucratic idea that doesn’t work”.

    So expect the resistors, be able to identify them when they begin their negative campaigns, and have the larger organization (i.e., HR and executive management) prepared and playing an active role to minimize and manage them. Once you have all this accomplished there is nothing left to do except, oh yeah, the work!

    Jeff Monteforte is president of Exential, a Cleveland, OH.-based information strategy consulting firm, which specializes in IT governance, information security and business intelligence solutions. He can be reached at

    Page 2 of 2


    0 Comments (click to add your comment)
    Comment and Contribute

    Your comment has been submitted and is pending approval.



     (click to add your comment)

    Comment and Contribute

    Your name/nickname

    Your email


    (Maximum characters: 1200). You have characters left.