Program and Portfolio Managers Face Transformational Changes

PPMs should take account of how much change a business can undergo in any given period and will stay below that threshold to avoid change fatigue.

Program and portfolio management (PPM) leaders must prepare for a greater number of business transformation projects and programs with higher expectations for results, as well as requirements for engagement outside basic PPM practices, according to a report from IT research firm Gartner.

Meanwhile, ongoing economic uncertainty is driving IT-enabled business transformation beyond the scope of previous practices and existing workplace experience, the report said.

"Today, due to the turbulent nature of business, supporting strategic initiatives and adapting to market changes brings greater scrutiny upon all PPM leaders," Robert Handler, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. "It will also drive the acquisition of much-needed organization change management and business process change management capabilities. The increased severity of coming changes will serve to highlight PPM skill and practice deficiencies, and bring about increased recognition of the value of advanced practices."

Gartner predicted there will be a shortage of skilled labor to fulfill the demand for PPM specialists, and professional service organizations will be unable to fill the void, because the role will require organic, internally developed power and influence through existing relationships across organizations.

Technology vendors offering program portfolio tools, primarily as dashboards to support visibility of strategic change initiatives, will emerge or evolve.

In addition, to cut across silos and connect strategy to program execution, Gartner predicts that most C-suites in the largest global organizations will rely on activist enterprise program management office (EPMO) leaders by 2017.

"Over the past five years, we've seen a significant trend toward interest and adoption of an EPMO leader, where the "P" might stand for program, portfolio or a combination of both. The majority of EPMO leaders currently have the task of providing visibility and decision support to business executives," Donna Fitzgerald, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement. "What most of them haven't been asked to do is actually get something done. We see that situation changing as the concept of the EPMO becomes increasingly accepted."

Gartner predicted that, by 2016, successful transformation program leaders will direct 60 percent of the program budget to organizational and business process change activities.

The report said successful programs should take account of how much change a business can undergo in any given period and will stay below that threshold to avoid change fatigue.

Explicitly defining the resources in IT and business needed to manage and enable change will also help to mitigate change fatigue.

"Organizational change is clearly at the center of what a transformation program is supposed to achieve, but is too often ignored because the program manager lacks the needed skills," Fitzgerald said. "Without the right people and changes to process, the planned benefits of the program don't materialize, no matter how perfectly the technology aspects of the program are executed. To deliver an effective, integrated outcome, all three aspects of the current reality—people, process and technology—must be transformed in concert."