Have you recently wondered if your program and portfolio management (PPM) capability has kept up with the ever accelerating pace of digital change during the pandemic? If yes, you are thinking right. As other digital practices mature, it is now the time to kick-start a PPM upgrade that scales along with your upcoming initiatives and gives you a head start out of the COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19 accelerates existing program and portfolio management trends
The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic is a pressure cooker for business and IT capabilities alike. While organizations with a low digitization maturity risk falling behind the curve even faster, competitors will excel and come out of the crisis stronger than ever. Increased pressure on an organization as a whole and PPM comes via the following trends:
1. Agile methodology: Companies have invested in upskilling their teams in agile methodologies and started to adopt frameworks like SAFe1 or LeSS2. The future will therefore see fewer traditional v-model based programs and projects.
2. Remote collaboration: Offices and delivery centers are closed, forcing colleagues to work from home. With COVID-19, agile teams must therefore be well equipped to deliver initiatives remotely across the globe in a seamless way3.
3. IT metrics: The approach to measure the success of IT initiatives is shifting away from traditional cost-center driven metrics such as on-time and on-budget delivery towards more evolved means such as release frequency, risk mitigation and time-to-market.
4. Product centricity: Internally, many organizations are moving away from a project-oriented delivery model towards a more product (or service) centric organization. New roles such as the product owner are emerging and other roles like the traditional project manager are becoming less prominent.
5. Technology shift: The technology landscape is changing rapidly, especially trends around cloud computing4 have significantly impacted not only how infrastructure and software is delivered and hosted but also how IT organizations are structured.
6. Customer first: Besides agile, related methodologies such as design thinking6 are shaping how products and services are delivered in the future and therefore, have a major impact on PPM capabilities.
7. As-a-service models: On one hand, many organizations discover as-a-service as an additional lucrative source of income for their own business models. On the other hand, they intensively leverage the whole bandwidth between infrastructure and software as-a-service offerings to increase scalability, flexibility and drive down costs.
While the traditional role of program management will eventually disappear, there is a great opportunity for the PPM capability to reposition itself as a key enabler and driver for digital change in a post COVID-19 world. This is what can be referred to as a Digital Initiative Transformation Office.
Why act now?
During COVID-19, every organization realized that being digital is paramount for survival and therefore, many new digitization initiatives have been started. Organizations are now building the foundation for future growth.
Operating in this new-normal world with a “survive - grow - transform” mindset requires a stable foundation for planning and execution that can scale quickly and reliably. Scaling only works though with the right people, processes, methods, metrics and tools in place.
This is where the implementation of a Digital Initiative Transformation Office (DITO) becomes relevant.
Form a mission statement
To provide guidance on setting up a DITO, it is important to understand the overarching objectives and mission statement of this entity. Typical objectives are:
- Make digital initiatives comparable to each other in terms of cost, quality, agility, delivery speed, benefits and risks.
- Track every initiative from its first ideation stage, up to the productive use in a consistent way.
- Ensure that the right set of information is available at the right point in time to make informed digital related investment / divestment decisions across the organization.
- Ensure that all digital initiatives are using a coherent delivery management methodology (catering for both v-model, agile and hybrid approaches).
- Establish a common understanding regarding the dependencies between all digital initiatives.
- Ensure that best practice delivery methods and technology platforms are established across all products / business lines.
- Remove overheads, which is typically necessary to set up the right set of management tools and assets for new initiatives.
Those objectives need to be tailored for each organization. Based on the identified objectives, a mission statement for a DITO could be the following:
Mission statement: The Digital Initiative Transformation Office is the central umbrella view across all digital initiatives from ideation to go-live and operations. It will a) provide transparency on how well we perform towards achieving our business objectives and b) accelerate and mature our digital delivery capabilities by c) foster a strong alignment between business and IT. It will do so by providing the right mix of people, processes, metrics, methodologies and tools.
Introducing the Digital Initiative Transformation Office
The DITO is an integral part of the end-to-end digital decision-making cycle. Only then can it provide the needed holistic support throughout the digital investment lifecycle. It enforces a structured approach that all stakeholders can adhere to. The key capabilities of a DITO are depicted in Figure 1.