Pilgrim’s Promise for Project Portfolio Management

Slalom Consultant Carl Manello

Carl Manello is a Solution Lead for Program & Project Management based in Chicago who enjoys exploring how to tightly couple the art and science of project delivery with business operations.

“[T]hey cultivated industry and frugality at the same time—which is the real foundation of the greatness of the Pilgrims.”
Ulysses S. Grant

In these very trying times, corporations, executives, managers and individual contributors should be looking to attain the same greatness as the Pilgrims: producing results by making smart choices.  That greatness is in fact the underlying goal of many of Slalom’s Service Offerings.  As consultants, we have the opportunity to guide our clients through the unfriendly climate of this economy.  Our Portfolio Management offering is a tool we offer to help guide them.

Slalom consultants bring experience, process, methods and tools that can help our clients do what is right.  But read the prior sentence again for clarity: tools will not be our initial offering when helping a client take the first step towards portfolio management.  A basic starting point is instead to implement a process for determining which projects should be allocated the scarce resources the company has to offer.  What projects are in-process?  Which are waiting in the wings? How can the company make objective choices that ensure the right return?

I often characterize this as the need to “rack and stack” projects, both those underway and those waiting on the launch pad.  If our clients are unable to classify and categorize their initiatives –  hopefully tightly coupled to their strategy – they will be unable to realize long-term success.  And no tool, no matter if it is one of Slalom’s invention or one of the myriad of industry leading off-the-shelf products, will be able move them closer to their goal.

How then to rack and stack?  An enterprise may create many racks upon which to categorize it’s initiatives: strategic, operational, research & development, core functionality, and run-the-business.  There are scores of others possibilities.  The labels are less important that the agreement of leadership on the need for multiple categories by which to classify their operations and desired projects.  Within each of the categories, leadership must also find a method and measure for stacking them in order to define a priority for approval.

Is it better to launch the project that will deliver $1,000,000 in two years for operations, or the six-month R&D initiative that returns just $50,000?  ROI alone cannot determine this decision. The R&D project produces a faster return and will contribute to the growth of the business.  Although it has a lower direct financial return, this project may be funded first, given a process and method that allowed executives to see their opportunities, clearly articulate the decision levers, and provide support for making objective decisions.  When our clients have to make choices like these, Slalom has the opportunity to help them determine HOW to make those choices.

Now that the economy is starting to come off its downturn, Slalom is getting even more opportunities to demonstrate to our clients and prospects that Slalom is just as scrappy as the Pilgrims.  And who knows, maybe a hundred years from now a President will be quoted for his comments about the foundational value of Slalom consultants.

Slalom Consulting Chicago Slalom Consulting's Project and Program Management focus
More about Slalom Consulting’s Chicago office. More about Slalom Consulting’s Project and Program Management focus.

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About Carl M. Manello
I am Slalom Consulting's Practice Lead for Delivery Effectiveness. I work to support organizations' capability and delivery maturity -- not just IT organizations -- so that their initiatives run more predictably, efficiently and provide the best results.

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