There are numerous benefits or dimensions to Microsoft PPM, aka Project Online and Project Server. Working together, almost synergistically, these benefits are brilliantly changing the entire project management landscape.
These major advantages, at the heart of Microsoft PPM, represent a sea-change in the way projects and portfolios are holistically managed on a daily basis in the enterprise. These advantages include strategic project alignment, increased visibility, optimization, and enhanced team collaboration.


Let’s take a closer look at Strategic Project Alignment today.



Strategic Project Alignment


It is imperative for an organization to be able to evaluate whether the projects in the enterprise are working together effectively and reaching the correct level of harmony to achieve the organization’s overall objectives. Project Portfolio Management is almost like taking a discordant symphony orchestra and putting a conductor in place to filter out the cacophony of sound so that beautiful music will emanate throughout the concert hall instead.


PPM orchestrates this harmony by providing organizational leadership with the information necessary to make critical decisions about whether projects and business units are properly aligned with the enterprise’s mission. Executives at the highest levels always want to increase organizational competence in the conduct of its business. Therefore, in enterprises that are highly project-driven, they must give a sharper focus to the accomplishments of project work that fits within the organization’s capabilities while also being congruent with its vision, mission, objectives, and goals. This includes evaluating whether current projects or portfolios are less than optimal in terms of size, risk, profitability, and a strategic fit for the organization. Only by doing so, can the organization realize, to the fullest extent possible, the benefits of conducting work through projects.


Because PPM is a discipline grounded in the belief that an organization’s vision, mission, and objectives are all a set of projects, leadership can select and prioritize the “right” projects and terminate projects that are not strategically aligning with business strategy or when the risk is outweighing the potential benefits. In return, this can dramatically increase efficiencies, help save on project costs, improve resource utilization, enhance collaboration, and ensure on-time and on-budget delivery of the most critical initiatives that align with the organization’s purpose.


Project Selection. Microsoft PPM takes a rigorous approach to selecting the best projects that have the most strategic and operational fit that will benefit the organization and its stakeholders the greatest. It also goes a long way toward ensuring consistency of purpose and predictability of outcomes.


Meticulously selecting the right projects to initiate—while rejecting the wrong ones from going forward­—is one of the hallmarks of PPM and a maturing organization. Projects must make a positive contribution to the enterprise in support of the organization’s mission; therefore, each project selected must meet well-considered criteria that unequivocally shows a contribution to the success of the organization.


The specific criteria and factors for project initiation and how it contributes to the organization’s goals can easily be captured in a PPM system in order to be evaluated for a go or no-go decision. This information must be completed at the onset of any project or initiative. A good PPM tool will have pre-approved criteria for project initiators to select from that will show how a proposed project fits within the scope of the organization’s objectives and goals. This will then be communicated, via the Microsoft PPM tool, to higher-ups who will determine whether the proposed initiative directly contributes to the organizational success or if it is just a consumption and waste of resources that will ultimately detract from the business.


Additionally, this type of formal review can be seamlessly integrated into the PPM system at various points or critical junctures during the progress of the project, a process known as stage-gating. The initial selection and stage-gating process along with its criteria can also be reviewed frequently and revised in the PPM system by leadership in order to make sure that it remains relevant and adequate for the organization’s project selection needs.


Project Prioritization. After selection, ongoing projects frequently need to be prioritized, in a top-down manner, especially when they are dispersed geographically across different departments and business units. Microsoft PPM facilitates business prioritization of projects which is necessary because projects may be drawing on resources that are shared between division lines and are potentially working in silos on several initiatives where the big picture of what is going on is not always evident at the operational, project, or department level. Confusion of purpose and priority may result.


Microsoft PPM can provide leadership with the crucial information to give guidance to what is or is not a priority for the enterprise. Resource utilization, spending, and scheduling can be adjusted accordingly.


Project Termination. With an EPM system in place, upper management can be more responsive to making decisions regarding the reduction or outright elimination of projects that have been showing little or negative payoff. The painful truth is that projects often fail in early stages, which is one of the reasons for incorporating project stage-gating.


Microsoft PPM helps leadership understand when a project still has the potential to deliver benefits as promised or whether it is better to terminate early and possibly harvest the results of work that has already been completed. This can also be helpful with saving money by eliminating unnecessary work or in appropriate situations reducing or increasing the workforce.