Making Portfolio Management Work For You

Making Portfolio Management Work For You

Insights | 20 April 2016

Without the appropriate level of portfolio management in your organisation, how can you really know you are investing in the ‘right’ programmes and projects? How do you know that you are focusing on those initiatives that will deliver to strategic needs? How do you know that those initiatives are providing the benefits originally promised?

The simple answer is you won’t. Portfolio management isn’t a ‘silver bullet’ that will guarantee your initiatives are the ‘right ones’ and that you will always achieve full return on investment.

But, when portfolio management is:

“…implemented in a way that complements existing organisational governance structures and processes and is underpinned by a collective teamwork culture in which staff work collaboratively in the pursuit of shared goals, the result is improved portfolio prioritisation, delivery and benefits realisation”

Management of Portfolios (MoP®), AXELOS

So have you recently sat back and looked critically at where you are at with portfolio management and how you can really make it work for your organisation? Take a moment to review and discuss the following with other senior managers.

5 Point Portfolio Management Health Check

  1. The What. Do we have clear agreement on what are the initiatives within the remit of the portfolio? Are they reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that they are the ‘correct’ ones and are necessary? What are the forecast costs and benefits of the portfolio?
  2. The Why. What difference will the programmes and projects in our portfolio make to the organisation? What is the portfolio really trying address? Which specific strategic objective(s) is this portfolio focusing on?
  3. The How. Is there appropriate categorisation of projects, reflecting such areas as strategic objectives, line of business, geographical regions, type of initiative, or if mandated/compliance? Are there consistent agreed methods in place for project prioritisation? Is there a consistent set of investment criteria covering return and achievability? Is the portfolio balanced in terms of factors such as timing, risk, impact on the business, resource supply and demand and delivery life cycle phases/stages? Is funding linked to gates and project performance?
  4. The When. Do we understand when different initiatives need to happen, based for example on inter-dependencies and strategic requirements? Have we considered some projects may need to be accelerated or delayed in light of resourcing availability/conflicts? Are we delivering our projects on time? Do we have a clear view when (realistically) benefits will be realised?
  5. The Who. Do we have a clear governance framework defining who makes portfolio decisions, including:
  • What are the ‘right’ initiatives?
  • When should we stop an initiative?
  • Are we doing initiatives the ‘right way’?
  • Are we realising the benefits?

‘The Who’ should also consider do we have the ‘right’ people at the ‘right’ time with the ‘right’ skills to deliver the portfolio?

Remember portfolio management can play a critical role in facilitating growth in an organisation – have you critically reviewed your portfolio lately?

MoP® is a registered trade mark of AXELOS Limited.

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