Project Portfolio Management

Your organization is brimming with good ideas, but that doesn’t mean they are the right things to deliver. You do not have the capacity to deliver everything at once.

At HotPMO, we help align strategy, projects and data ‘sources of truth’ throughout organizations, ensuring everyone working on your portfolio is focused on Objectives and Key Results that deliver the most important business outcomes.

What is Portfolio Project Management?

Axelos, the global best practice organization has issued guidance on Portfolio Project Management, known as Management of Portfolios (MoP®). MoP defines a portfolio as “A coordinated collection of strategic processes and decisions that together enable the most effective balance of organizational change and business as usual.”

Project managers wrestle with how to get projects delivered on time and on budget, but it is at the portfolio level where we make the decision on whether to go ahead and invest resource in a project in the first place.

Organizations have finite resources and deploying them sub-optimally can disrupt the business and have a significant effect on customers, staff morale and the bottom line.

In their 2015 paper, Delivering on Strategy: The Power of Portfolio Management, PMI highlighted the importance of connecting project execution to strategy fulfillment. They advocate a formal and disciplined portfolio management infrastructure—one that aligns projects and programs to an organization’s strategic roadmap.

This direct link to the organizational strategy is a vital part of portfolio management. There is a common misapprehension that portfolio management is about overseeing projects, and whilst this is a part of portfolio management, a far more important challenge is identifying the initiatives that will give the organization the best possible chance of hitting its strategic objectives, or OKRs.

Portfolio management combines strategic thinking and decision making with oversight and accountability that ensures projects and operational initiatives achieve the expected outcomes.

What does good Portfolio Management look like?

Transitioning to a Portfolio Project Management model means a culture change for most organizations. It requires senior leaders to get around the table and transparently discuss competing resource demands and priorities. It requires decision making that acts in the best interests of the organization, rather than in the interests of individual projects or departments. An effective portfolio management structure will reduce silo-thinking and promote cross-team collaboration. There will be a senior portfolio management group or steering group who focus on strategic alignment and project selection, whilst providing high-level oversight and evaluation.

Good Portfolio Management starts with vision and strategy rather than with projects. Without a clear vision, mission and strategy, portfolio management is of little value. The strategy will contain clearly defined stretching objectives, that clearly lay out the direction in which the organization wants to travel in. The strategy is the reason the portfolio exists, and the vision and mission are the ‘true north’.

With a strategy in place, the portfolio can take shape – a mixture of in-flight projects, operational improvements, programmes of change, and projects that will be launched in the near future. Good portfolio management will provide visibility of the projects themselves, but will also provide visibility of the holistic perspective – helping the organization understand where each project fits, and the part it plays in propelling the entire organization forwards. KPIs thread through the portfolio ensuring a common lexicon throughout the organization, and standard measures for success.

The holistic approach requires portfolio managers to focus not just on projects, but on the operational side of the business too. It is rare that the outcomes defined in the business strategy can be achieved by the operational teams alone – significant change calls for projects and programmes. But projects do not often deliver strategic benefits directly – they tend to deliver capability or capacity that can be utilised by operational teams. With the growth of Kanban and DevOps, digital change can be driven by teams that stradle both worlds – gaining the operational effeciencies associated with manufacturing lines whilst rapidly changing technology via a series of thin-slice software releases . Good portfolio management sits across all of these delivery areas, and keeps a balance between running the business and changing the business ensuring optimal outcomes are achieved across the organization.

How does HotPMO help with Portfolio Project Management?

HotPMO works with organizations in a variety of ways to support their portfolios and portfolio management capability. We provide support and guidance at all levels of the organization. Interventions depend on the unique challenges of the organization but can include:

Project Portfolio Management: An Interview

Find out more about Project Portfolio Management by watching the video below featuring our founder, John McIntyre sitting down in his kids toy room to have a chat with Stuart Taylor from the YouTube channel Influencial PMO as they discuss what PPM and why it is so important for modern organzations.