Portfolio Management: A Lesson in Continuity
June 21, 2017 by The FlexPro Group
Within the world of project management, we speak endlessly about, well, projects – and rightfully so. Whether you’re slowly managing a structured team by the book or flying by the seat of your pants on something a little more dynamic, there is plenty to cover. Scope, risk, stakeholders, metrics, compliance are just a few of the many concepts always on the brain of a PM over the lifetime of a project timeline.
And that’s only one project.
Any experienced PM knows there is very rarely only one project, one plan, and a single venture impacted by key decisions. Looking a level up, a project is often in a group of initiatives called a portfolio that are managed together to achieve an organizations strategic goals. Simply stated, they’re linked by business benefit and high-level objectives.
Managing a collection of projects comes with a unique set of challenges that reach far beyond the boundaries of a single timeline’s performance to plan. For many organizations, resourcing, risk, governance, and measured project execution create a daunting yet critical balancing act that can trouble even their most experienced personnel.
So how does an assembly of mission-related plans progress together as a well-oiled machine? Through effective portfolio management, of course! With the help of the folks over at the PM Perspectives Blog, we identified some of the key pillars of working with a portfolio and how to address important concerns:
Impart Your Vision – Clearly define the portfolios objective and make sure the project plan is built to match. Without a strong vision, the purposeful foundation that strongly binds projects together will crack, leaving the sponsoring organization scrambling to meet overarching goals.
Who’s in Charge? – Accountability is a principle of effective management and that’s no different when it comes to supervising a portfolio. The task often lies with a centralized project management office (PMO), but can rest with single individuals depending on the situation. No matter who’s at the helm, decisions need to be made with those same strategic goals in mind from the onset.
Risky Business – Naturally, more projects running simultaneously is going to create risk based on resources and interdependencies. Every project action can create a ripple effect that needs to be recognized across the portfolio. Openly discuss and plan to accommodate risks from the initiation phase of project management and ensure that all stakeholders are aware of what could be on the horizon.
Resource Allocation – Perhaps the most quantifiable item on the list is how you are staffing and paying to execute each project. With knowledge comes the responsibility to operate efficiently while monitoring how personnel and financial support is being utilized. When a change is required, positive or negative, are you equipped to handle it by shifting or reassigning resources?