Integrative IT planning and portfolio management - part 5

Issue 4, 2016                                                                                  

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Alfabet and project management

In this series of articles, we look at how to derive synergies among IT management tools when planning and managing the IT landscape. In particular, we discuss how Alfabet for enterprise architecture and IT planning and portfolio management best works with other tools to provide optimal support for your business and IT transformation efforts.

Demand to execution program planning

Because of its significance to Project Management (PM), Alfabet has several integration points for exchanging data with PM tools. Whereas a PM tool takes care of the “hard-wiring“ of the project for implementation, Alfabet is concerned with thoroughly inspecting the demands and the resulting project proposals that will generate projects, their alignment with business strategy, and their effect on the Enterprise Architecture (EA) and IT strategy.

The “whole view” approach that Alfabet offers in determining which projects to invest in is essential for a project’s success. No matter how well a project is executed, if it doesn’t support enterprise strategy or causes major conflicts in the IT strategy roadmap, it will have been a futile exercise and a waste of money. 

As Forrester states:

In the bid to win, serve, and retain customers, taking a traditional approach to portfolio management is no longer sufficient. Siloed, project-centric, or technology asset portfolios must be replaced by a holistic view across strategic and operational investments, assets, resources, and services. To accomplish this, business and technology planning must move beyond alignment to integration. As companies continue on their journeys to integrated portfolio management, the ability to aggregate and analyze data from internal and external sources to build, inform, and guide strategic portfolio execution moves from nice-to-have to essential.”
(Forrester Research, The Forrester Wave™: Portfolio Management For The BT Agenda, Q1 2015, M. Visitacion, G. Barnett, March 18, 2015)

Alfabet provides answers to questions such as:

  • What are the project milestones?
  • What is the current project status?
  • What are the critical projects and their priorities?
  • What are the costs and benefits of the project?
  • How do my projects contribute to my strategy?

Like a PM tool, Alfabet offers project planning and monitoring but at a level that allows analysis of project dependencies and impacts—either on other projects or elements of the enterprise architecture. As an IT planning tool, Alfabet captures business demands and lets the user associate these to appropriate projects that are already planned or in-flight to avoid redundant spending.

Alfabet’s portfolio management capabilities enable assessment of the total project portfolio using multiple criteria and based on a portfolio “framework” that defines portfolio strategies such as a digital business strategy, cloud strategy or a market strategy. Every project that goes through Alfabet on its way to the investment review board is completed with a business case and cash-out planning so that costs and funding for the total lifespan of the project are clear.

Figure 1: Overview of the Delineation of Responsibilities for Each System

The partnership between a strategic planning and portfolio management tool like Alfabet and a PM tool is a very natural one, with touchpoints easily configured as shown in Figure 2. Demands are captured by both systems with an interchange taking place to ensure that strategic IT demands land in Alfabet where they can be thoroughly evaluated, consolidated, analyzed for redundancy, and converted into a project proposal. Non-strategic demands are passed on to the PM tool for further processing through change management. After project proposals have been evaluated and prioritized in Alfabet, they are released to project management for execution. Here the project setups are reviewed and released for more detailed project planning concerning definition of tasks, assignment of resources, time management, budget, etc.

Figure 2: Here you see a typical process flow between Alfabet and a PM tool and how the two complement each other.

The updated information on budget and work items is passed back to Alfabet’s project portfolio governance capability, allowing this information to be incorporated into subsequent prioritization and budgeting rounds. The PM tool also communicates scope change requests to Alfabet as these could have an impact on the EA and further evaluation rounds. In an iterative process, changes in the budget item and work item structures are passed back to the PM tool for further processing and then back again until final project approval.

Alfabet supports PM tools such as CA Clarity, Planview®, HP® PPM, Changepoint® and Microsoft® Project Server.

Next in the series

Closed loop process for planning, designing and running SOA infrastructures: Stay tuned for how Alfabet integrates with SOA repositories in the next issue of TECHniques.