On the road to digital maturity: Managing the IT portfolio

Part 1: Why portfolio management trumps project management—and where there’s still room for improvement

Posted by Akhand Singh on November 18, 2019.

Evolving digital business and the rapidly changing business landscape requires organizations to continually adapt—a situation that relies heavily on the IT function. The need to stay relevant, keep up with industry requirements, and meet customer needs result in numerous IT projects in the pipeline simultaneously. Organizations typically follow one of two different philosophies to manage and oversee these projects—project management and portfolio management. Here’s what makes portfolio management the more masterful approach.

Following an IT project management philosophy relies on project-by-project management, giving each individual project the opportunity to demonstrate value while competing for resources with all other projects. In contrast, portfolio management relies on collective management of all IT projects, sharing resources, people, and stack space across all projects, giving the organization opportunities to manage the portfolio holistically.

In our 2016 survey on technology implementations, we assessed the benefits of managing IT programs at the portfolio level vs. the project level. We compared highly mature portfolio management organizations to all others to understand the benefits and challenges organizations face while moving their entire stacks to portfolio management.

What we learned:

1. Organizations moving toward portfolio management saw significant benefits in multiple areas compared to organizations operating at a project level.

Highly mature portfolio management organizations reaped key benefits in these areas:

2. While organizations are moving toward portfolio management approaches, the value across all success factors was not as significant as we originally anticipated.

As more and more organizations lean toward moving their stacks under one portfolio, they are realizing that their portfolios overall often fail to live up to expectations. Gaps in the organization’s portfolio management strategy may be the cause. Given the push toward digital business, the traditional style of portfolio management is often inadequate. The survey identified several specific portfolio management challenges:

  • Synchronizing timelines and aligning deliverables
  • Driving efficiency gains
  • Minimizing scope creep
  • Aligning leadership
  • Reducing resource crunch

Broader challenges IT organizations leaning toward portfolio management may face include:

  • Prioritizing effectively. Projects in the portfolio should be prioritized to support the organization’s overall business strategy. But too often that relationship and alignment aren’t understood, so IT ends up working on projects that don’t have as much strategic impact.
  • Maintaining business as usual, both within and outside the portfolio.
  • Pulling the plug. IT organizations often lack a mechanism to identify and stop projects that are performing poorly.
  • Poor reporting, leading to poor decision-making. In a vicious circle, a lack of integrated portfolio management business tools results in inconsistent portfolio data across projects and business functions, which results in ineffective reporting, which is a core reason for bad decision-making.

The good news is these challenges associated with transitioning to IT portfolio management and building competency can be alleviated. Up next in Part 2 of this series, we’ll look at some of the ways leading portfolio managers increase the effectiveness of their portfolio approach and ease their digitalization journey.

Akhand Singh is a senior consultant in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Digital & Cloud Enablement practice, advising global client across industries to help them activate their digital organizations and prepare them for digital transformations.

Digital Adoption Platforms: A people-centered solution to successful technology adoption

Posted by Jennifer Cohorst, Karin Zonder,and Stav Agmon on November 01, 2019.

The Digital Revolution is upon us, and to understand the impact, some experts are calling it the fourth industrial revolution. New technology is being introduced at an unprecedented rate, and jobs are changing in ways that require humans to integrate WITH technology to do their jobs. This new way of working can only be successful with people as the priority and at the center of work. One people-centered solution to help companies manage the challenges that come with this digital revolution is Digital Adoption Platforms (DAPs). They help people work effectively with technology in the flow of work.

Everyone expects (and deserves) fair hiring decisions, so how do we get beyond bias?

Posted on August 2, 2019.

Thanks to a combination of awareness, training, and regulatory oversight, most organizations are acutely aware of the need to remove bias from hiring decisions and take steps to prevent it. So you may find it surprising to learn how many different forms of bias exist and how common it is—still—for bias to creep into decision-making.

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Help yourself, help others: HR Tech Strategy Survey

Posted by Chris Havrilla, Erin Spencer, and Charu Ratnu on July 9, 2019.

Organizations around the world have invested billions of dollars in HR technology over the past year. In the 2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, 74 percent of respondents cited HR technology as important or very important, and the same percentage will increase their level of investment in HR technology in the next three years.1 Yet few believe they are getting the outcomes or value they expected from that spend. Only 6 percent of respondents to Trends think their current suite of technologies is “excellent” in terms of helping them reinvent the future of work and redefine the human experience for their workers.2

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Cloud-based HCM systems should come without surprises

Posted by Marty Marchetti on July 3, 2019.

The business case for cloud-based human capital management (HCM) systems can sound pretty compelling. What CHRO wouldn’t want fast access to the latest advances in HCM technology at a lower overall cost? But my colleagues and I help companies make the move to cloud HCM, and we often get a firsthand view of the mismatch between expectations and reality that was revealed in Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends study.

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What’s a unified engagement platform?

A way for HR to enable interactions that create value, provide a Simply Irresistible workforce experience, and shift to the Future of HR


Posted by Arthur Mazor, Jeff Mike, and Michael Stephan on April 5, 2019.

Over 2,000 guests joined our recent live discussion about Reimagining HR for the Future as part of Deloitte’s Dbriefs HR Executives Series. One of the participants asked for additional insights on a “unified engagement platform.”¬ Great question!

A unified engagement platform (UEP) is an essential Future of HR “enabler,” integrating the array of technologies so critical to creating a Simply IrresistibleTM workforce experience. While not necessarily deployed on a single software, the UEP brings together mobile, desktop, IoT, and digital/augmented/virtual reality technologies, presenting them in a way that makes it easy for workers to engage with information, actions, and each other for increased productivity and a consumer-grade experience.

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Human-centered performance management: Creating a positive experience with technology

Posted by Kathi Enderes and Matthew Shannon, on April 4, 2019.

Performance management (PM) can be an unpopular topic at every level of the workforce. Mention “performance evaluation” or “performance reviews” in any meeting and watch the collective eye-roll as people think of the dreaded year-end process, full of bureaucratic activities like ratings and form-filling reviews, often with lackluster results.

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Prediction: Organizations will rethink work for a more productive workforce.


Posted by Kathi Enderes on November 29, 2018.

The world of work has become incredibly complex. Workers are trying to navigate a maze of hierarchies, work processes, and never-ending new communication methods that are all meant to make them more productive, but ultimately having the opposite effect. The rise of the social enterprise means that organizational boundaries are becoming permeable, while what and who constitutes an “employee” will be redefined with broader, more inclusive concepts. And teams are rising to the fore as work processes become project-based, even as many organizations cling to industrial-age hierarchies.

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Two Lessons from Day One at HR Tech


Posted by Matthew Shannon on September 12, 2018.

The end of summer marks the beginning of fall conference season for HR professionals. This week brings one of the largest annual gatherings of HR professionals and solution providers: the HR Technology Conference1 in Las Vegas (HR Tech, as it is commonly known). This year’s event takes place in a conference center the size of seven football fields! With that amount of experience and exciting new technology in one place, there is certainly a lot to learn over the course of the week. As such, the Bersin team is on hand to gather and share insights with those in attendance and those still at home. Below are two lessons about the evolving vendor landscape I took away from day one at HR Tech.

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