Intel IT recently implemented an Agile Program Management Office (Agile PMO) to support data-driven decision making and help ensure accountability and transparency across our IT investment portfolio. The Agile PMO is responsible for the traditional aspects of program management, such as standardization, planning, and governance. But we also believe that any PMO can, and should, embrace an investment portfolio management approach. Like an investment management organization, Intel IT’s Agile PMO supports better investment decisions through a deep understanding of the basic business justification of the work (its charter or business case). This includes the expected business outcomes, expected costs, and the hard benefits we can reasonably expect to realize from the deliverables. But it is not enough to simply know what a program’s benefits are, such as cost reduction. We must also understand the program in the context of the overall portfolio, so we can make tradeoff decisions if the business landscape changes, or we discover more about the complexity of the deliverable during execution. Also, it is important to understand how those benefits impact other programs. Successful investment portfolio decision making requires a holistic view across the entire portfolio. We assess the return on investment for each of our programs with attention to how they inter-relate and support each other.
As an example, the investments we have made in artificial intelligence (AI) programs have consistently helped Intel reduce costs and increase revenue. In 2018, we implemented a Sales AI platform that streamlines the lead-to-customer conversion experience with automated steps that provide critical information to leads to support their decision making, while simultaneously enabling our sales personnel to manage significantly more leads at any given time. The program has improved the customer experience and saved Intel money in measurable ways, and it has also led to the development of new capabilities that we have shared with other AI programs.
By approaching the overall portfolio in this way, we can foster an efficient investment management perspective, thereby refining our ability to predict outcomes that can help improve and sustain the health of the entire portfolio. We do this in close partnership with IT Finance, who are accountable for portfolio overall financials. When portfolio and program managers think like investment counselors, they promote healthy conversations about the business justification for the investments, create a clear understanding of the expected hard benefits, and are better able to make tradeoffs if/when the investment landscape changes. This brings both opportunities and challenges for our investment dollars.
Financial Acumen is a Must for Effective Investment Portfolio Management
Program managers who possess strong financial acumen and create healthy partnerships with IT Finance bring a necessary perspective to investment portfolio management. Financial acumen not only helps program managers analyze the hard benefits, costs, and risks of the programs they manage, but also provides a foundation from which to communicate findings and recommend strategies to their stakeholders. We have found that a strong ability to represent a program’s business justification within the portfolio adds value to the organizations we serve, with the added outcome of broadening the role that our program managers play at Intel.
Read the IT@Intel white paper, Modernize IT Portfolio Management with an Agile Program Management Office.