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From Flawed Issue Tracking to Poor Communication. Main Project/Product Portfolio Management Mistakes


Some things are inevitable, like making mistakes. However, there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits instead of counting losses. Let's have a closer look at the most common mistakes in PPM and learn a lesson on how to prevent them.

 The PPM abbreviation can refer to both Product Portfolio Management and Project Portfolio Management. Both roles have different responsibilities, tasks, and goals. Interestingly enough, the challenges and mistakes remain pretty similar. From poor communication to overlooking the budget, the list can go on, but for the sake of brevity, let’s focus on the most important ones.

The Main Mistakes in PPM

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Lack of top-down communication…

Top-down communication is critical for keeping employees aligned and on track to reach strategic goals. However, in reality, strategic goals are usually reserved for the top management. Managers are expected to break high-level goals into smaller chunks of work and distribute them within the teams they supervise. Intuitive and straightforward, right? Sure, unless the teams work apart from each other, without proper cross-communication and knowledge transfer. As a result, a high-level goal turns into a pile of puzzle pieces from different sets – nothing fits, and everything is in a different shape and size. Whether they have a whole portfolio or just one product, managers must keep everyone up-to-date with goals, progress, and stakeholders’ expectations.

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…and lack of knowledge about goals

Another similar lousy thing that can happen to a project is clueless team members. Managers can neglect even this essential element, as they don’t explain the purpose of their job to their teams. Understanding by employees involved in ongoing and planned initiatives of their strategic goals positively impacts their motivation and productivity. Therefore managers must present them with those in a simple and accessible manner. Moreover, the information must be kept up-to-date, reminding teams what and why they are working on it. A muddled or unknown endgame is a symptom of bad communication and poor soft skills. This results in lower morale, lack of achieving any milestones, and overall chaos. Addressing these goals is crucial for effective workflow.

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No defined value

Value - one of the central terms in the Agile approach dictionary completes this “communication trinity.” The overall value is a foundation of every action, project, and initiative and a driver to achieving a strategic goal. Unless the value is too vague, ill-defined, or inadequately explained to the people. Therefore, managers' primary role is to deliver an overall knowledge of work progress and ensure understanding of upper-level management strategic goals and vision, by supervising teams and individuals.

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Intuitive-driven tracking, not data-driven tracking

Tracking progress, deadlines, and risks is strictly connected to good management. In the contemporary world, where more and more companies are looking forward to Agile transformation, tracking progress and work is changing. Instead of following solely by instinct, people’s opinions, and recommendations, managers must start referring to more data-driven decisions. Properly used tools allow tracking of most vital indicators so that managers can easily collect and select the data crucial for a specific project or product.

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Gathering wrong data

Speaking of collecting data, a good manager must choose their software wisely. That means selecting the right tool to automatize, standardize, and visualize collected information. There is a fair share of software, available on the market, that helps keep the portfolio or the project on track. In addition, it automates most of the time-consuming, mundane tasks, leaving managers to focus more on people.

This list does not present the whole spectrum of potential failures in PPM but narrows it down to crucial issues: lack of overall communication, and opinion-driven, instead of data-driven mindset. Also, worth noting is the fact that failure isn’t often a result of just one cardinal mistake. More commonly, it’s a sum of a minor mistake that, like pebbles, can turn into an avalanche and bury down any chance to reach the goals set by stakeholders.




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