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STAND FIRM Vol I, Issue 1


Achieve Breakthroughs in IT Project Portfolio Performance

In this Issue

Inaugural Issue of the STAND FIRM newsletter for IT PPM Executives

New book: The CIO’s Guide to Breakthrough Portfolio Performance

The Best of Both Worlds: Hybrid Agile/Traditional Portfolios

Recommended Reading: The Phoenix Project

Upcoming Events

Why is this Newsletter Called “STAND FIRM?”

New Book!

Together with co-authors Wolfram Müller and Hilbert Robinson, Fortezza CEO Mike Hannan just released a book sharing our most innovative techniques for jacking up portfolio performance—The CIO’s Guide to Breakthrough Project Portfolio Performance.

Click here to check it out. The Kindle eBook format is available now, with hardcover and paperback versions to follow in a few weeks.

Recommended Reading: The Phoenix ProjectEvery issue of this newsletter, we will list our top recommended read for IT PPM executives.  Our selection this issue is The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win, by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford. Click here for our review.
Inaugural Issue!

Welcome! The purpose of this newsletter is to elevate the IT Project Portfolio Management (PPM) discourse, focusing on the three primary PPM objectives:

1) Maximal-impact Project Selection—Pursuing better ways to pick the highest-impact projects possible.

2) Maximal Portfolio Throughput—Getting more done, by delivering as many projects to completion as possible.

3) Optimal Portfolio Reliability—Avoiding failures by delivering over 90 percent of projects within plan.

While we agree that there are many additional PPM topics worthy of discussion, if they don’t help us achieve one or more of these three objectives, then what exactly do they help us do?

For example, we at Fortezza Consulting are proud to have innovated a way to integrate Agile and traditional methods harmoniously in a single IT project portfolio. But this is only valuable if it can offer PPM executives more flexibility for integrating teams to get more projects done (throughput), or if it can combine larger resource pools that provide more options to help complete at-risk projects within plan (reliability).

We see surprisingly little focus on these three primary objectives. Project selection gets some attention, but poorly performing methods such as weighted-criteria ranking still predominate. And to the extent that throughput and reliability get meaningful airtime, it’s usually focused on project-level techniques such as Agile, larded up with complex “scaling” and heavy-handed governance approaches to try and propagate project-level successes across the portfolio.

Perhaps worse, we see an overabundance of zealotry in leading IT PPM communities such as Agile, Critical Chain, and Lean, with allegiance to a single approach too often taking precedence over the practical application of specific techniques designed to advance the three primary PPM objectives.

Our project portfolios are suffering badly from this. It’s time to elevate the discourse.

The Best of Both Worlds: Integrating Agile and Traditional Projects in the Same Portfolio

CIOs and IT PMO Directors are increasingly asking the question, “How might I manage a hybrid portfolio of both Agile and traditional projects—and can I do so in a way that might actually improve portfolio performance?”

There is usually no small amount of pain and suffering fueling this question. Often this pain results from well-intended attempts to impose Agile adoption on all projects, only to find that project-level successes with Agile rarely seem to translate into portfolio-level improvements.

[Click here for the full article on the Fortezza blog.]

Upcoming Events
PMI Symposium logo
For those in the Washington, DC area, there are two annual PMI events coming up. The first is the PMI Washington DC Chapter’s annual symposium at the J.W. Marriott downtown on Friday, September 26, and the second one is the PMI Montgomery County Chapter’s annual symposium at the Universities at Shady Grove on Wednesday, October 15.CEO Mike Hannan will be presenting at both. At the PMIWDC event, he will be presenting “The Best of Both Worlds,” on how to blend Agile and traditional projects into a common portfolio framework (click here for additional details on the session, and here for general symposium info). At the PMIMC event, he will be co-presenting on Agile Governance, focusing on how to apply an “apples-to-apples” view of different project buffer types to balance buffers across hybrid portfolios of Agile and traditional projects.At both events, Mike will be conducting book-signings of our newly released book, The CEO’s Guide to Breakthrough Project Portfolio Performance, as well as offering discounts on the book.
Details are still being worked out, but we will be conducting a full-day seminar in the Washington DC area the week of November 3, targeted for CIOs, IT PMO Directors, and other IT PPM executives. The session will be sponsored by the PMIWDC chapter, and will earn 7 PDUs. We will be teaching our newly rolled-out technique, Maximal-Impact Project Selection (MIPS), a more in-depth view of the Ultimate Scrum technique, as well as all seven throughput and reliability techniques we’ve taught in previous sessions. Stay tuned for more on this, or check for updates on our website’s training page at www.FortezzaConsulting.com/training.The following week on Thursday, November 13, we will be presenting at the Agile Development Conference-East event in Orlando, Florida. The topic will be “Breakthrough Portfolio Performance: Managing a Mix of Agile and Non-Agile Projects,” similar to the PMIWDC presentation, but tailored for the Agile audience.

Why is this Newsletter Called

In short, because that’s Fortezza Consulting’s tagline, but allow us to explain further. Our company name and tagline were meant to convey strength and stability (Fortezza means “fortress” in Italian), with the hilltop fortress tower also adding an aspect of vision. But beyond our own desire to be ever stronger, more stable, and more visionary, we want to help our clients develop these three characteristics as well. STAND FIRM reinforces this as encouragement to us all.

We also wanted to draw a stark contrast between what we see as an over-emphasis on agility, and what we believe is a more powerful and lasting message of strength, stability, and long-term vision. While agility is certainly a valuable attribute in our fast-changing times, the ability to execute, and to do so with high impact and consistent reliability, are what make agility useful. Too many organizations spend too much time trying to be agile and changing direction all the time, without getting much done. If you like sports analogies, imagine an agile-but-not-very-strong quarterback zipping back and forth across the backfield, perhaps eluding tackle for a little while, but unable to power through the defense or to throw the ball with any speed or consistency to help his team win.

So, when we say STAND FIRM, we are not encouraging inflexibility or inability to welcome new ideas and promising opportunities for improvement. Rather, we are hoping to foster a desire to be strong and disciplined enough to withstand all manner of challenges and threats. We want you to adopt proven techniques that form the basis of strength and consistency, to master them, and then to stick to them.

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