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Strategic Portfolio Management replaces traditional project management for better outcomes

Johannesburg, 02 Oct 2023
SPM was in the spotlight at a recent ServiceNow executive forum
SPM was in the spotlight at a recent ServiceNow executive forum

Strategic Portfolio Management (SPM) is overtaking traditional project management as a more effective way to manage digital transformation and align it to strategic business objectives.

This is according to speakers addressing a ServiceNow Executive Forum in Sandton last week.

Mehdi Benni, senior advisory solution consultant: Strategic Portfolio Management at ServiceNow, said businesses worldwide were moving from projects to products to drive transformation. Traditionally, projects have been hard to manage, reconcile, and align with business objectives, he said. Projects typically involve yearly planning, individual funding and a waterfall approach, and their KPIs amount to ‘on time, on scope, on budget’.

From projects to products

Traditional project, product and portfolio management often entails spreadsheets and disparate software applications from multiple vendors, resulting in poor visibility and misalignment between project and portfolio activities.

In contrast, a product is a collection of projects and services for internal and external customers. A well-managed product is approached in a continuous, agile manner, funding is an incremental cadence, and it is measured on business value.

“A portfolio could encompass multiple products. With SPM there are clear KPIs and dedicated teams working on them. In this model, you don’t bring people to projects, you bring work to product teams,” he said.

Benni explained that Strategic Portfolio Management allows product teams to align project investments with business strategy to deliver business outcomes, centralising data to make projects easier to manage and measure.

ServiceNow SPM

Nicole Smith, senior solution sales executive, technology workflows – Africa at ServiceNow, said: “To support digital transformation, organisations need to break down silos and connect the dots across teams and technologies, with a unified portal where users can interact with data.”

ServiceNow’s cloud-based platform helps digitise and unify organisations to make workflows faster and smarter. Using the platform’s capabilities, ServiceNow SPM is designed to simplify portfolio management for product teams, allowing them to build product roadmaps, prioritise certain projects, allocate resources, manage project development and delivery, and assess outcomes. ServiceNow SPM enables organisations to consolidate their entire digital portfolio – from strategy and innovation to project management – on a single comprehensive platform, giving teams visibility and control over operations.

Vishal Maharaj, senior solution consultant at ServiceNow, said: “ServiceNow helps align projects with strategic goals to ensure that projects deliver against business objectives.”

Outlining new features and the ServiceNow SPM roadmap, Benni highlighted the incorporation of generative AI across workflows, modernisation of the prioritisation tools, features to optimise resource capacity, and the ability to view projects through different ‘lenses’ or perspectives, such as project management or finance. Other new features include simple exports to PowerPoint for sharing with stakeholders, and prepackaged benchmarking against industry-wide KPIs. A Goal Framework application enables organisations to create goals, set targets for them, and evaluate the progress of the goals and targets.

ServiceNow also plans enhancements such as a simplified user experience, enhanced prioritisation and AI-enhanced project feedback summaries.

Supporting Vitality Group innovation

Hushan Padayachee, CIO of Vitality Group – a ServiceNow SPM customer – said his project management organisation relied on SPM to manage its multiple projects and products across international branches. 

“We have around 750 people working on SPM at the same time – around 450 of them in my teams. I have SPM open all day, every day to manage projects and products being developed across multiple countries. Everything I need is in there, in real time,” he said.

“The platform’s intuitiveness has helped us uplift our capabilities, and better prioritise and assess the business value of projects. We have even renamed our PMO to VMO – or Value Management Office.”