Project Portfolio Management for Your Software

Define the Software Modernization Strategy – After the applications portfolio has been completely evaluated each replace, redesign, and re-engineer project needs to be prioritized and sequenced, such that the envisioned business and technical environments are constructed. These initiatives are then placed on a high-level timeline to illustrate sequencing, interdependence and estimated delivery time frames.

Estimates Resources – Once the systems evolution plan and migration path is determined the resources required to execute the plan must be estimated. These estimates, like all estimates in this high-level plan, are high-level, order-of-magnitude approximations.

Resource estimates should be made in four primary categories:

  • Internal IT human resources;
  • External IT human resources;
  • Business unit human resources; and
  • Capital expenditures (i.e., hardware & software).
  • An important item to emphasize is that all estimates (e.g., human resource and capital) need to be presented as simple financial approximations for budgetary planning purposes.

    An enormous mistake I consistently witness is the desire for IT personnel to provide estimates that imply a certain degree of exactness, which is impossible to approximate at this early stage.

    For example, I see human resource estimates in the form of 7.125 FTEs and capital expenses represented as $25,927.63. The presence of decimals and fractions send the message of “thorough analysis” and “well-though-out estimates” to business executives. This form of estimating provides no added value at this phase of planning, but makes revising the estimates after true analysis a difficult and painful task.

    Construct “Evolution Program” and Strategy Document – A final step in the systems evolution planning process is to bring all the pieces of information together into a structured strategy document that describes a comprehensive execution approach that manages all the individually identified projects as a coordinated program.

    Keep in mind that beginning a software portfolio management practice is similar to establishing any kind of portfolio management discipline. It’s a 20% effort working out the nuts and bolts methodology and 80% managing the perception and organization change.

    Jeff Monteforte is president of Exential, a Cleveland, Ohio-based information strategy consulting firm, which specializes in IT governance, information security and business intelligence solutions. He can be reached at [email protected].