Bringing PMO Leaders and Enterprise Architects Together to Connect Strategy to Delivery at Speed for Today’s Digital Business

One of the biggest challenges organizations face as they launch major strategic initiatives such as digital transformation is that there continue to be silos among the various departments within the enterprise. When people with different roles such as project portfolio management (PPM) leaders and enterprise architects (EA) work together collaboratively, organizational siloes are eliminated and successful outcomes come with speed from their technology-based initiatives.

The fact is, these days it’s vital for the PPM team, technology and application management, and enterprise architects to work in partnership to connect strategy and delivery. To help grasp why it’s so important for these areas to collaborate, it’s good to understand what PPM and EA are all about and the roles they play within organizations.

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Communicate across the enterprise with executives and stakeholders. Define measurable metrics, assess the ROI, and adjust the plan across all portfolios.
Communicate across the enterprise with executives and stakeholders. Define measurable metrics, assess the ROI, and adjust the plan across all portfolios.

PPM leaders shape the portfolio for the connected enterprise, driving strategic execution and maximizing the business value delivered through the selection, optimization, and oversight of project investments that best align with business strategies and goals. As the central management function for the processes and technologies used for projects, PPM helps the project management office (PMO) leader, program managers, project managers, and resource managers determine the optimal mix of resources needed to deliver completed projects.

EA is a clearly defined practice for conducting analysis and design and for planning for capability and technology change – using a comprehensive approach – for the successful outcome of a digital strategy. EAs provide a roadmap to guide organizations through the business, process, and technology changes that are needed for a digital transformation.

Enterprise architects are responsible for performing an analysis of the business operating model, capabilities, applications, and technology to identify the changes needed to increase efficiency, agility, and business continuity, while decreasing security and compliance risk.

To ensure success within the modern enterprise, the key roles within these disciplines need to come together and make decisions based on the overall needs and goals of the organization.

A good example comes from efforts to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the new regulation created by the European Union to safeguard the personal information of EU citizens. To help ensure compliance, the PMO needs to work in collaboration with enterprise architects, compliance experts, IT security, marketing, legal, and others in the organization.

Based on what’s uncovered in terms of how an organization manages its data, enterprise architects, the PMO, and other stakeholders can collaborate on the roadmap to deliver the outcomes and capabilities needed for compliance.

It’s in the collaboration among the PMO, EA, and others that the connected enterprise really pays off, because there will be uncertainty, competing priorities, and trade-off decisions.

If both the PMO and EA are on the same page on the roadmap and what is being delivered, they can work incrementally to deliver value. For instance, the PMO can work from the funding, return on investment (ROI), and scheduling perspective, and the EA can work from an architecture, risk, and gap perspective.

Successful Collaborations

Some organizations have succeeded in tearing down siloes and enabling the PPM and EA functions to work together, with the help of technology solutions, and have seen significant improvements in their ability to complete projects to enhance the business.

Eine integrierte Roadmap vernetzt Strategie, Geschäftskompetenzen, Programme, Anwendungen, Technologie und Investitionen.
Eine integrierte Roadmap vernetzt Strategie, Geschäftskompetenzen, Programme, Anwendungen, Technologie und Investitionen.

A prime example is a global manufacturer of paints, coatings, and specialty materials. The company’s enterprise architects and PMO were facing a number of challenges related to technology-focused projects, and with the help of solutions such as PPM and capability and technology management software, which enabled collaborative work, they successfully addressed all these hurdles.

It’s worth noting that at this company, the office of the CIO is responsible for IT financial management, budgeting, and change management and communications, as well as PPM, project management office, and enterprise architecture. That brings all these functions under one management umbrella.

The company was dealing with challenges in demand management. There was limited understanding of technology needs, and a lack of visibility into demand and its related technology impacts. EAs did not have enough visibility into the demand pipeline and could not see demands as they were coming in so that they might map those demands to existing business capabilities and identify gaps in the current capability portfolio.

With the right technology solutions, EAs can provide an enterprise-wide view of planned investments through:

  • EA change assessments
  • limiting the potential problems that arise from misaligned programs by ensuring investment alignment to business and technology architecture at the front-end of the planning process
  • helping to drive the strategic alignment of investments

The company has seen an overall project delivery improvement through the reduction of project risk, and it now uses architectural standards throughout the organization.

The company also faced challenges related to resource capacity planning. Limited capacity required tradeoffs to be made, but it was not always easy to fully understand the impacts of those decisions. Also, the PMO and EAs needed an easier way to understand portfolios, from their different perspectives and in terms of the impacts on other portfolios.

Now, the PMO and EAs can:

  • create investment scenarios to evaluate alternative approaches to determine the optimal investment plan
  • understand which scenario accomplishes higher revenue, controlled spending, and managed capacity
  • provide summary level information to leadership at the appropriate level
  • model investment impacts across strategies, capabilities, and technology
  • understand the impacts of tradeoffs
  • communicate how tradeoffs affect achieving strategies and advancing business capabilities

Challenges related to roadmapping included:

  • having strategy disconnected from delivery
  • not delivering intended outcomes
  • a disconnect between IT and business initiatives, leading to misalignments in the portfolio
  • missed deadlines
  • unintended consequences

With new solutions, the company now visualizes dependencies using integrated roadmaps that describe how programs, projects, applications, products, and technologies will deliver on strategic and organizational goals. It can monitor the progress of execution against strategic plans, define roadmaps that provide an integrated view of proposed investments, and see results such as better project decisions and improved use of technology.

The company also faced:

  • challenges in work and application rationalization, including no visibility into the application portfolio, which led to application complexity and sprawl
  • difficulty determining the right technology, for the right purpose, at the right time
  • failure to maximize technology utilization
  • too many similar initiatives
  • no understanding of portfolio interdependencies
  • no way of identifying project overlaps, impacts, and dependencies

In addressing these challenges, the company’s IT organization was able to drive down costs; leverage existing technologies and applications to meet the organizational demand, achieving more rapid fulfillment of business needs; identify projects that can be merged or eliminated; and identify reuse opportunities for applications and technology.

Finally, the company faced challenges related to resource capability planning, including a lack of understanding of gaps in current or planned business capabilities; strategies not mapped to the critical capabilities that deliver on them; difficulty in articulating what areas are prime for investment; and funds wasted on projects that do not support strategic capabilities.

Now, the company:

  • has the ability to provide a quantitative, fact-based framework for investment decisions
  • can assess business capabilities’ maturity, strategic value, and operational gaps to determine where to invest
  • has effective allocation of spending with the most value to the business
  • can communicate the cost of change, impact of change, and benefit of change to the business

As another example, a healthcare provider is promoting collaboration across PPM and EA to deliver a massive digital transformation project to move physicians from paper documents to tablets.

The company’s director of IT business management manages three groups, including an EA team, the PMO, and the IT governance team, which work together to design, deliver, and govern IT service.

Every planning, estimating, or scoping event required a time-consuming “archeological dig” into each group’s disconnected manual spreadsheets. The company deployed an EA and portfolio and resource management solution, which gave all three groups a single integrated view of application, technology, capability, and project portfolios.

The analytics and reporting from the solution streamlined activities from all three groups, reducing the time it takes to plan and execute programs and projects. Now, the company runs planning meetings directly out of these solutions for all three groups.

Zusammenfassung und Handlungsaufruf

Today’s enterprises can’t function optimally if there are silos that keep different divisions and groups from collaborating and sharing insights and best practices.

Key roles within the organization – such as enterprise architects and PMO leaders – need to come together to drive change and strategic growth.

That way the organization can bring solutions to market more quickly and enhance customer service, increase sales, and achieve the goals outlined in its corporate strategy.

While PMOs are at the center of managing portfolios, projects, and resources, they can’t operate in a vacuum. Anything that’s happening that involves change in the organization must include enterprise architecture as part of the planning and execution. There is a much greater likelihood of success if enterprise architects are involved and engaged throughout the process.

While the need for better internal collaboration has been talked about by business analysts for several years now, there has perhaps never been a greater urgency to achieve higher levels of collaboration and deliver value to the business.

Both PMOs and EAs, and their groups, are facing an increasing pressure to deliver more with less. These factions, rather than competing with or ignoring each other, should be united by a common cause: To boost their perceived and actual value to the organization.

As noted by 451 Research, enterprise architecture and portfolio management should be inextricably linked. In addition, in today’s business environment, market forces are shifting dramatically, and speed of delivery is a competitive necessity. In such an environment, where so many organizations are adopting an agile approach to their operations, siloes will only slow things down and keep businesses from reaching their full potential.

The most successful organizations will be those that create a harmonious and mutually beneficial relationship between project management and enterprise architecture interests. Together, they can work with other groups to ensure the success of strategic initiatives such as digital transformation.