Sometimes you read a book, an article, or a blog post and stumble over a phrase that makes you pause. A sentence that hits home, and you can’t help but nod. Every now and then, you also come across a quote that very aptly describes the day-to-day challenges of project portfolio management. If you have been working as a portfolio manager for several years, you could probably write a whole book of wisdom and recommendations for newcomers to PPM. The following compilation is really just a small selection of helpful quotes for project portfolio managers. Some of the quotes come from seasoned business people and managers, and some from writers who have nothing to do with PPM. No matter the source, these quotes still hit the mark.
Time for some inspiration!
1. There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.
– Peter Drucker
This is one of my favorite quotes because that's what PPM is all about. The alignment of projects with the company's strategic goals and prioritization of those projects on the basis of defined evaluation criteria are the end all, be all of PPM. But, we know all too well the projects that devour budget and claim resources, even though they are not strategically important.
Or here is another scenario: a project is completed and the end result is exactly as it should be according to the initial plan a few months. The problem is the requirements changed while the project was being completed. The plan was too rigid and didn’t take these changes into account. Now, you’re in a mess.
It’s better to keep checking the strategic contribution of projects, and create project plans that are flexible when requirements or priorities change.
2. The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
– George Bernard Shaw
Okay, this quote fits almost all life situations, and it is especially applicable to project portfolio managers. Remember that project portfolio managers are a link between corporate management, resource managers, program managers, and project managers. It is imperative that the person communicating between these departments and functions have soft skills, or the communication will fail.
Successful communication in PPM includes communicating project ideas from the outset, clarifying requirements and expectations with the teams, clearly addressing grievances, documenting decisions in meetings, communicating changes to all participants, meaningfully forwarding reports, and communicating even seemingly trivial things. One piece of advice is to avoid trains of thought such as “that is obvious, so I don’t need to say it.”
3. Achieve results, not phases.
– Jeroen de Flander
Many managers are too focused on having all projects run according to schedule and achieving each milestone as agreed, which suggests that everything is under control. Instead of being task-oriented, project plans should actually be results-oriented. In concrete terms, this means linking planned activities directly to the benefits to be achieved and measuring project progress not based on the number of completed tasks, but on the results achieved.
4. Business is often about killing your favourite children to allow others to succeed.
– John-Harvey Jones
We all have those projects. You know, the ones that you’ve already invested too much time into to drop them, even if the “fight for survival” has been going on for months, and you already know that the project will fail. Desperately hoping that a small miracle will happen, you put more resources into the project rather than abandoning it. However, those wasted resources could help immensely elsewhere.
When it’s obvious the project will fail, it helps to just accept it without wasting more time or resources.
5. Remember the two benefits of failure. First, if you do fail, you learn what doesn’t work; and second, the failure gives you the opportunity to try a new approach.
– Roger Von Oech
Failure is a part of everyday life. A favorite project does not make it through the last selection round, there is tension between the project managers, management has waited far too long for the latest status report, a particularly important project has seemingly unsolvable problems, the new software isn’t performing as expected, and the workshop was a total disaster. Does this sound familiar?
As cliché as this scenario may sound, the important thing is to get the maximum benefit from these failures. Even if it’s just a matter of learning from the mistakes. By the way, as a project portfolio manager, it is also your job to ensure that all project managers in the company learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others. So stick to best practices!
6. The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.
– Peter Drucker
When I read this quote for the first time, I knew it was a perfect match for PPM! Rigid pre-planning without room for adjustments is a quick approach. However, it is becoming more important to quickly and confidently implement necessary modifications to the original plan (or perhaps just skip the detailed planning). That is why companies are increasingly turning to Lean PPM™, which gives them the flexibility they need.
7. A mass of data is not the same as a report.
– Simon Moore
Sharing relevant information is an important responsibility of project portfolio managers. Corporate management always wants the data immediately in order to get a real-time picture of the current situation, but unedited information has its pitfalls. It doesn’t take long before portfolio managers are dealing with a huge pile of data, which only provides answers to important questions after hours of searching. Instead, create reports that answer very specific questions. For example, how valuable is my portfolio? In Meisterplan, you will find various reporting templates that create meaningful reports from large amounts of data. Try it out free for 30 days.
8. Willingness to change is a strength, even if it means plunging part of the company into total confusion for a while.
– Jack Welch
A situation that project portfolio managers know all too well: It's all about change. Initiating change requires courage. At the beginning of the journey, many colleagues are not yet sure where the path will lead. You encounter resistance. At the end of the day, it is important that you as a project portfolio manager do not lose sight of the goal!
Communicate clearly and concisely. The path may be bumpy and lead to confusion. Show your team that you know where the journey is leading to. Understanding reasons for change increases the acceptance by your colleagues. Together you will achieve your goals and survive the difficult phase of change.