Who Should Lead Strategic Investment Planning?

By Mike Gilpin

I was in the audience at our recent “Business Process & Application Delivery Forum” for the track session “Using The Next-Generation PMO To Promote Innovation,” which was delivered by Margo Visitacion. The premise of the session was that leading-edge PMOs (project management offices) are evolving to a more strategic role, focused on portfolio management of business investment rather than just IT projects or programs.

I know this phenomenon is real because I, too, have talked with multiple Forrester clients, PMO leaders, who have elevated the mission of their PMO to this level -- often to the extent that they no longer report into the CIO but are outside IT, reporting into a business exec like the COO or CEO. In so doing, they have refocused their efforts on everything from guiding business leaders through building a business case for the investments they want to make, to guiding decision-makers through selection from the portfolio of investment proposals, to tracking benefits realization and ROI after the fact. PMOs with this kind of business-focused, strategic mission have greater business impact and are often close partners with executives leading their firm.

During the session, one of the attendees asked an interesting question: “At our firm, the functions you describe are led by the enterprise architecture team as part of the strategic planning and business architecture process. Which is better suited to doing this function, EA or the PMO?

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Vote For Forrester's 2011 IT Forum Theme

Are you ready for Forrester's IT Forum 2011? Mark your calendars for May 25-27 in Las Vegas and June 8-10 in Barcelona — and help us design an event that is as relevant and productive for you as possible. We've come up with three potential draft themes and need your vote for the best IT Forum 2011 theme:

1. Unleash your empowered enterprise.

As technology becomes more accessible through mediums beyond IT's control, you have but one choice: Get proactive by empowering employees, or swim against the current. Successful BT leaders will react not by blocking access but by lending their expertise to increase the chances of technology success and empowering the users to solve customer and business problems. This year's IT Forum will provide a blueprint for reaping the benefits of your empowered organization — complete with case studies, methodologies, and step-by-step advice tailored to each IT role.

2. Capitalize on the intersection of business and technology.

IT leaders have long struggled to deliver business and technology alignment.  But alignment implies a waterfall process: decide on a business strategy, and then build your technology on that foundation. Today, our businesses move too fast for the traditional IT model. Instead, Business Technology leaders must join the leaders of their lines of business to create business and technology strategy simultaneously. That means working with new business partners inside and outside your organization, operationalizing innovation through standards, and above all, saying, "yes, and..." instead of "yes, but..." This year, we'll dedicate IT Forum to building bridges to new business partners, scaling innovative solutions, and co-creating business and technology strategy.

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Where Do *You* Find The Best Software Developers?

Here at Forrester, we’re beginning a new stream of research focused on where firms are finding the best software developers. And by best, I mean a few key attributes, including being innovative, productive, timely, and delivering high-quality results.

Our research methodology will be to survey a broad swath of firms that recruit software developers, to find out where they are finding the best developers. We want to not only identify the best university programs around the world for churning out great developers, but also assess the contribution of other sources, such as hiring experienced developers from other firms, bringing in contractors for staff augmentation, or sourcing developers from systems integrators.

We also plan to assess university programs based on their coursework and other attributes, to see if we can correlate the nature of their programs with the results their graduates achieve.

What do you think? What universities do you suggest we assess? We will certainly look at the usual suspects like MIT, Stanford, WPI, RPI, Rice, and so on. But what about Texas A&M, the University of Mississippi, or the University of Brighton? Back when I was hiring developers they had great programs — do they still have what it takes? You may be partial to your alma mater, but… really, would you recruit there today? There’s been much prognosticator pontification about the sad state of affairs in the US today for education of software engineers and other high-tech resources — what are you seeing?

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