We can’t afford to pay lip service to portfolio management anymore

Suddenly, many organisations found themselves in an unexpected and tragic situation: their sources of income stopped, their budget was cut, their pipeline of initiatives was put on hold and their current projects were scrutinised. All of them. One by one. What can we stop? They were forced to ask. What do we need to continue? Paradoxically, despite the acknowledged benefits of effective Project Portfolio Management, it was just then, after they were hit by the pandemic crisis, that these organisations realised the importance of a proper risk balance and resource management in their portfolios.

I have news for you: resources are (always) limited. We might as well start managing our projects and programmes with that mindset at heart. We can’t afford to pay lip service to portfolio management anymore.

The time is now

However, crises are also great opportunities to reinvent ourselves. This is what I’d like to dare you too today by considering investing in Project Portfolio Management.

  1. You have time to prepare: a couple of weeks have now passed since all of this craziness started. We are no longer rushing trying to get everyone to work from home without compromising the security of data. We are no longer firefighting or running from meeting to meeting.I don’t know yet what the “new normal” looks like (was there ever a “normal” way?) but, if we took something away from this crisis, that certainly was time. More time to reflect, organise, plan, strategise. What was not working and needs improvement? This is the time to be future-prepared.
  2. Bad projects have no place to hide: crises bring an unusual type of transparency to organisations. Due to the shortening budgets, portfolios are more thoroughly assured, and that exercise ends up revealing the fragile projects whose business cases never stacked up but were still carried out. You know what I’m talking about: the elephants in the room, the pet projects, that project that flies under the radar. You are given a great opportunity to assess what is worth doing or not.
  3. Optimised usage of resources: by implementing project portfolio management, resources – either people, money or others – can be allocated to the initiatives where they are the most useful, that is, to the projects which are contributing the most to the attainment of the strategic objectives of the organisation. It’s not enough to just initiate a project. We need more projects that translate into real business and societal impact.
  4. More predictability: it is impossible to predict the future but, when it comes to organisational design, it is more important to be ready than to be right. By adopting a disciplined and consistent approach to how initiatives are selected and prioritised, organisations are given an early insight about the complexity and resources involved, potential timescales or risk to be managed, in this way gaining much more predictability of what lies ahead.
  5. Better informed decision-making: if there is a coherent and structured way to evaluate the initiatives identified or underway, with a clear view of the benefits and strategic drivers of each, it is also simpler to make decisions in a more confident manner since the impact of such decisions would be known through scenario planning and what-if analysis in the selected portfolios. An effective organisation should not just be concerned with doing projects right, but also in doing the right projects.

Screenshot from Excel of different projects and reports.

Interested in finding out more? Whether it’s through a framework to enable your Portfolio Management capability or by implementing a full end-to-end PPM tool such as Microsoft Project Online/Project for the Web, we can assist you. Get in touch with us now.

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By: Marisa Silva (The Lucky PM)

Marisa Silva (The Lucky PM)
PPM specialist with extensive experience in industry with a focus on collaboration, PMO conception & strategy, method and capability development. Marisa also retains depth expertise in Microsoft PPM having led a large number of client deployments.

Published: 12 June 2020

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