What is PPM
What is PPM

How Start-Ups Are Transforming Traditional Project Portfolio Management

5 min read

Start-ups are versatile and flexible. They can also be creative and temperamental. If start-ups were people, they would probably be in the phase of self-discovery. They usually invest a lot of time in many projects, and it feels as if they never have enough time to get it all done. What is the solution?

Start-ups that can’t come up with more money or resources probably need project portfolio management (PPM). In contrast to the well-known project management, project portfolio management considers the big picture. Entrepreneurs and founders shouldn’t focus on controlling each individual project, but rather on the portfolio of projects and the corresponding resources. It boils down to the seemingly simple question: Who should do which projects, when?

Lean Project Portfolio Management Is Now Available

PPM is a hip and a growing market. Even industry giants now recognize that PPM provides the answers to many questions. After the painful experiences of the early 2000s, when every IT director had at least one do-it-all software fail despite many years of investment and millions of difficult projects, now the focus is on quick, simple, efficient: aka Lean.

Lean project portfolio management exists in large part because of those who either want to simplify their current traditional and complicated PPM, or those who never adopted or introduced it in the first place. These are millennials, thinkers, and especially start-ups who need a simple, flexible and fast solution. They love technology and are of the “there’s an app for that” generation, so they look for a tool that gives them what they need without the complicated traditional PPM process.

Startups Are Quick and Flexible

Those in charge of start-ups are constantly forced to decide what takes highest priority: profit or gaining more customers? the investors’ wish list? or new projects that prepare the start-up for rapid growth?

There is also the dilemma that key employees threaten deadlines and turnover. Because of their unique skills, they are expected to be involved in every project, which leads to either scheduling conflicts or burnout. If a start-up with only one outstanding front-end developer has to implement different web projects, each of which requires an excellent front-end developer, a resource bottleneck is automatically created. None of these projects can be completed on schedule.

So, start-ups must always decide very quickly which projects are most important and which projects require which resources.

While established companies react with exaggerated micromanagement, bureaucracy or complex project value calculations, start-ups remain flexible.

Entrepreneurs and millennials are used to working on different projects at the same time and using different tools and methods to assess the priority of projects. They do not try to use one scale for everything, but are able to compare apples to oranges without relying on a rigid or obsolete PPM process.

Plus, start-ups usually have shorter decision-making processes. What used to take another company a month now takes a week, and what used to take a day is settled in an hour. Today’s world is changing rapidly and millennials are following suit with start-ups that quickly adapt to those changes. This saves resources and leads to more efficiency throughout the company.

And finally, start-ups realize that new data and developments in the market can quickly throw a project plan off course. For this reason, they increasingly focus on adaptive strategies in PPM so that they can react as quickly as possible and avoid a standstill. If a great new project is highest priority, they might wait until the next sprint to make changes, but they won’t wait until the next quarterly meeting.

Start-Ups Choose PPM

Start-Ups Love Technology

In order for project portfolio management to work in large companies, a lot of information about the duration, resources, milestones, content, expected ROI, etc. must be available for every project. The problem is that this information is never uniform nor completely available. First, different project managers or customer consultants have different presentation styles. As a result, data is available in completely different formats and knowledge about possible new projects varies greatly. Second, there is often a competitive mindset. Only the most important projects are allocated resources, so each person presents their own projects in the best possible light. Biased and misleading information is not unusual.

Start-ups limit themselves to the essentials and use tools that make it easy to accomplish those essentials. Millennials especially love technology, so they often introduce tools that significantly simplify project portfolio management and allow for Lean PPM™. As described by Meisterplan, lean PPM™ reduces PPM to an absolute minimum – including only the necessary information. This leads to a better database. Information can be more easily collected, is available in a consistent format across the enterprise, and is clearly visible.

Traditional project portfolio management has not been able to meet the requirements of start-ups. It is too sluggish for decision-making and too complex for data management. Due to the way start-ups work, Lean PPM is now on the rise. Focusing on only the essentials enables quicker decisions and more flexible responses in project and resource planning.

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