Project Management Institute

The Long and Winding Road

The Journey to Mature Portfolio Management Practices Is Bumpy—but Worth It

By Teresa (Terri) Knudson, PMP, PgMP, PfMP


Here’s what I know from experience: Implementing and maturing project portfolio management (PPM) practices throughout an organization isn’t easy. It’s a long, strange trip with detours and occasional dead ends—demanding a combination of passion, patience and persistence.

As my team and I worked to build my organization’s PPM capabilities during the last few years, we have encountered roadblocks: leadership changes, new organizational models, and limited funds and resources to develop PPM functions. I must confess: There were moments when I needed to pause and confirm to myself that I truly had enough commitment to PPM. Fortunately, members of PMI and other organizations were willing to share their expertise to help guide me forward. Being part of a larger PPM community definitely re-energized me to continue.

By engaging with internal and external partners who also had a vision for PPM, I found ways to maintain steady progress. We pushed for increasing utilization of PPM by people and areas across the organization that recognized its value. Concurrent with this, we expanded the functionality for those areas ready for more intermediate and advanced features of PPM. This has involved many internal partnerships with large departments such as IT, finance and various clinical areas.

As with any change, we encountered resistance and implementation problems. For every step backward, however, there were multiple steps forward. As our progress continued, slowly but surely, leaders from various parts of the organization saw the value in PPM in successfully executing strategic initiatives and have come aboard with us on our voyage down the enterprise PPM road.

The excitement of these new partners was invaluable. As they discovered how PPM could improve the business management of their areas, they injected fresh energy, ideas and resources into the overall PPM implementation process.

A remarkable thing occurred as we progressed: The organization’s executive leadership recognized PPM as a core part of the organization’s business infrastructure—especially for managing our current challenging business environment. PPM is now in place from top to bottom; project managers and project team members regularly incorporate PPM principles into their work. Organizational leaders expect that enterprise PPM practices will be followed to ensure project success.

Today we’re excited to be working with a dozen large enterprise departments to implement PPM best practices. Our journey continues, but the ride is getting smoother. And our destination is in sight. PM

img Teresa (Terri) Knudson, PMP, PgMP, PfMP, is the director of the enterprise portfolio management office at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA. She can be reached at [email protected].
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