Marco GerussiMarco Gerussi PPM – Gartner Causes Confusion

11/16/2007 by Marco Gerussi

Stimulated by HP’s limiting use of “Portfolio Management” in the new name of its powerful IT Governance solution HP PPM, we already covered the often misinterpreted and ambiguous use of the term “Project Portfolio” in earlier blogs.

Confusion around PPM
Similar vagueness as for “Portfolio Management” can be observed for “Project Portfolio Management”. Software vendors trying to ride the trend waves do their best to reinforce such vagueness. Market players do not hesitate to call their solutions “Project & Portfolio Management”, abbreviated as PPM. Now even Gartner in its most recent study uses PPM to categorize Project & Portfolio Management, bundling two disciplines, PPM (Project Portfolio Management) and PM (Project Management).

Obviously, Project Management tools with low Portfolio functionality such as prioritisation or project funding are suddenly called PPM.
Every simple project management solution qualifies itself nowadays PPM. Project Portfolio Management is to important to be diluted like that. It is clearly defined:

“Portfolio management is the centralized management of one or more portfolios, which
includes identifying, prioritizing, authorizing, managing, and controlling projects, programs,
and other related work, to achieve specific strategic business objectives” (Project Management Institute, The Standard for Portfolio Management, 2006, S. 5).

Contrary to Garntner’s use Project Portfolio Management does not cover the implementation aspects of projects and programs. As a discipline it covers activities like:

  • Assessment and evaluation of project ideas and requests
  • Support for business case and feasibility studies
  • Analysis of dependencies between planned and ongoing projects
  • Prioritization of project requests
  • Approval or rejection of project requests
  • Grouping of projects in portfolio structures
  • Controlling of current projects and programs
  • Superordinate risk, quality, time, resource and cost management
  • Evaluation of project portfolio regarding it’s alignment with strategic business goals
  • Collection of empirical project data
  • Definition of guidelines for new projects

Project Portfolio Management’s is the managment discipline of business management with the goal to implement the right projects at the right point in time with the right resources in the right organizational environment. It is key to distinguish this business critical discipline from project management.

In all other beteo blogs like “Project Portfolio – Hype and More” or “PPM – Alibi Without Impact Analysis” we use PPM in above sense. Maybe one day Gartner will start to call it’s category P&PM: not as sexy but less ambigous.

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