SharePoint is undoubtedly the most popular collaboration platform on the market. Many organizations are thinking outside the box and extending its capabilities into a complete SharePoint project management tool. By extending SharePoint with project software like EPM Live, you are empowering the organization to create a complete end-to-end project portfolio and work management solution. This allows for better business decision making by analyzing demand against capacity, identifying optimal sequencing and ensuring all business investment objectives are being met for the most profitable portfolio.
Many organizations are realizing the importance of a critical step in the Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) discipline – Portfolio Planning. For the average business, Portfolio Planning may be a process well beyond their organizational maturity; however, it is a major component that should not be overlooked in order to increase the probability of reaching 2013 objectives. The structure in which you execute this discipline may indeed vary depending on maturity, but the basic steps can be followed regardless of the complexity of the processes behind them.
Before we dive into the essential steps to Portfolio Management, there is one question that must be understood; why define a portfolio? Organizations will always have projects, they will always have limited resources and they will always need to meet business objectives in order to remain a successful business. If you are not implementing the RIGHT projects and work to meet strategic objectives, the value you are bringing to the business may be much smaller than its potential. In today’s competitive marketplace, businesses must bring maximum value to survive.
10 Essential Steps to Portfolio Management
Once you have a process down for defining, selecting and executing your portfolio, you are ready for the essential steps to Portfolio Management. Before we get into the actual steps, we need to make sure that the following assumptions are true:
1. The organization’s Executive Management is onboard with the Portfolio Management Plan
2. All proposed projects and work efforts will be evaluated for inclusion into the Portfolio
3. The appropriate skilled staff is available to manage the Portfolio
4. All Portfolio Management processes have been defined
5. A standard tool (across the organization) is being used for Portfolio Management Planning
There are many published standards and white papers for achieving portfolio management within your organization. For the purposes of this blog, we will be defining the 10 most essential steps based on our implementation experience over the last 12 years. More mature organizations will introduce additional steps into the process. Let’s get started:
Step 1: Identify Portfolio Items
Determine what project/work you would like to implement. This is not an individual effort; work and projects will most likely be identified by many in the organization.
Step 2: Define Portfolio Items
For this pre-selection round you will need to define enough information to establish value of the given initiative. Description/business case, benefits, strategic alignment, and risk tolerance are all factors to be considered for this step. Keep in mind some of the key evaluation metrics that we discussed above.
Step 3: Evaluate Portfolio Items
Once all of your items are entered into the Portfolio, it is time to evaluate them. This can be done through a variety of methods. For example, you may leverage a formula for rating your items against each other to determine which item will bring the most value, the least amount of risk, align best with your resources and provide the best alignment with your organization’s strategic objectives. Rating and scoring is a common Portfolio Management practice for portfolio selection. You may also introduce What-if Modeling to view various models and conditions should you approve a given portfolio.
Step 4: Select your Portfolio
Based on the evaluation step you will determine which items bring the most value to your organization. Once your key portfolio items have been selected, you will be entering one last evaluation stage prior to approving your portfolio.
Step 5: Reassess Portfolio
In this stage it is common for more detailed information to be added to the portfolio/work items. This stage allows the portfolio team to re-evaluate the items based on additional information such as a high level cost plan and/or resource plan.
Step 6: Approve Portfolio
Once the portfolio selection team has had time to reassess the portfolio based on further portfolio information, the approval process can begin. The approved items then go into an execution stage and is handed off to the project team for execution.
Step 7: Portfolio Item Transition to Projects or Work InitiativesThe approved portfolio items are then promoted to projects or work initiatives and are moved to the execution phase. At this point a Project Manager will be assigned if one has not been assigned already.
Step 8: Portfolio Communication, Performance Tracking and Reporting
Portfolio Management does not end with portfolio selection and approval. It is now time to track the performance of your portfolio. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will be used to visualize status and track progress. For examples of useful Portfolio Management reports click here.
Step 9: Portfolio Change Management
At any point in the Portfolio Management life cycle, new project requests/portfolio items can be introduced. In addition to new requests, current approved items in execution can be affected by unexpected risks or unforeseen environmental factors leading to project cancellation. The change management step will be ongoing throughout the life cycle of your portfolio and is critical to its overall success.
Step 10: Begin at Step 1
As new portfolio items are introduced, start over at step 1.
Learn more about defining, selecting and executing your portfolio in this Free White Paper