Project portfolios risk becoming ungainly and cumbersome, especially if they aren’t carefully curated and reviewed on a regular basis. If other activities have been consuming your time and your portfolio has grown into a gangly mess as a result, it’s time to regain control.
You can quickly begin to evaluate your portfolio—its scope and health, as well as where opportunities exist to achieve better balance and improve performance—with a handful of key questions.
How many projects are in your portfolio?
If you don’t know, that’s an issue you need to resolve immediately. You should have an accurate inventory of projects on hand and available for review at all times, so put in the effort now to establish mechanisms that enable this granular level of visibility. The full number of projects in your portfolio pipeline may shock you, particularly if you haven’t formalized your project intake process. Getting a handle on the scope of your portfolio will help you manage your organization’s resources and deliver better results over the long term.
What type of projects make up your portfolio?
It’s easy to think of project planning and execution in terms of simply replicating a set of standardized workflows, but it’s likely you have enough variety within your portfolio to require more than just a single template of activities. You need to have a deeper understanding of the types of projects in your portfolio so you can develop realistic plans, provide credible and accurate forecasts, and estimate far in advance how your resource requirements will shape up as each initiative moves through its lifecycle.
How many internal workers are assigned to the various components in your portfolio?
Workforce planning and management is a complex undertaking, and without deep insight into how your portfolio will consume your staff’s time, you’ll be behind the curve when it comes to recruiting key talent. Attracting and onboarding team members with targeted expertise, niche credentials, or high-level experience takes time—you don’t want to be scrambling to fill vital posts at the last minute. That includes not only team members, but project leaders as well as staff in supporting departments, such as procurement, regulatory affairs, or quality control. A thorough review of your portfolio data should enable you to create a workforce development plan that aligns with your firm’s strategic goals.
When was the last time you reviewed your project categories and prioritization?
Though your long-term strategic goals may not change much over time, most organizations experience a natural evolution as far as their priorities, business needs, market and competitive pressures, and financial pictures go. If you haven’t assessed and updated the priorities and categories for every project in your portfolio in the last year—or potentially in the past 6 months if your environment has undergone significant changes—then that’s something you should do as soon as possible.
How much money is invested in your portfolio and what’s your ROI track record?
If you only review your financial performance at the project level, you’ll never understand just how much money your organization invests in its initiatives. Without that insight, you and your executive team will be in the dark when it comes to ensuring that you achieve the best returns on your project expenditures. Begin by reviewing where your funds have gone on recent strategic efforts, where they’re earmarked for active projects, and what your budget forecasts look like for the projects next in line. Then evaluate the ROI for previous key initiatives. Only by looking at past financial performance can you position your company to improve your rates of return on future projects.