If your company hasn’t yet implemented a solid project portfolio methodology, you may not be getting the most out of your project investments. You might be missing important data points, trends, risks, and opportunities simply because you don’t have the insight you need to spot them. You may also recognize your organization could be doing better when it comes to project execution and performance, but without the right information at hand when you need it, you can’t take action to improve. The business is missing out because no one has access to a highly accurate, up-to-date project portfolio view for your executive team.
In many ways, gaining a project portfolio view is analogous to playing the stock market. If you have an underperforming stock, you dump it so you can focus those funds on something more productive. But if you don’t evaluate the health of that stock relative to the other investments in your portfolio, you may not recognize that it isn’t giving you the return you want. By maintaining a close watch on their portfolio, successful investors can see where opportunities exist and where poor performance is hurting them.
Maybe you think it’s enough to conduct a yearly review of your active projects. Yes, you’ll likely gain some awareness of your portfolio’s status, but you still won’t have the necessary level of insight to ensure your portfolio is as healthy as it could be. Even after PMs and others on the project team spend time compiling the data for these periodic evaluations, you may discover that problems have been lingering too long and you’re past the point of taking cost-effective action to fix them.
Consider some of the benefits of an accurate project portfolio view for your executive team.
Make timely business decisions. Executives often need to make strategic decisions quickly. A short-term opportunity could arise or it may be necessary to sidestep a bad situation before it negatively impacts the company. In either case, delays spell trouble. Unfortunately, if your leadership team only has access to project-level data, they’ll either need to consolidate the relevant information before they can act or they’ll need to make a decision knowing they don’t have all of the data in front of them. But if your organization has a portfolio management solution in place, your executives won’t be hampered by those time pressures. They can quickly assess risks, resource availabilities, funding obligations, and even the firm’s competitive position. They can then chart a course for the most advantageous path without any delays.
Understand the broader risk picture. Project managers typically assess risks at the project level. That’s an important place to start, but portfolio managers and company leaders need to know about the risk landscape at the corporate level. The use of a time-tested portfolio management strategy enables executives to examine risks across multiple projects and identify where liabilities may be magnified to the point of concern, or where they have the potential to impact the organization’s strategic direction. It becomes possible to spot and correct small-scale workforce issues, for example, before they’re amplified across several projects.
Make better use of resources. With the high-level insight available from a project portfolio view, your executives will know how every initiative is doing. What’s running on schedule? Where have delays occurred? How are resources being consumed by each project in the portfolio? You’ll also have the data you need to identify low priority and underperforming projects. Senior management can then postpone projects that don’t need to be completed now—freeing up resources to move more important efforts to the finish line—and even cancel those initiatives that are underperforming.