The use of an effective project portfolio management strategy helps organizations ensure they gain maximum value from their project investments. By bringing the entire project pipeline under central control, everyone maintains better awareness of where and when resource consumption is scheduled, how today’s staffing and funding decisions may impact tomorrow’s efforts, and which strategic projects need extra attention to ensure they reach a successful completion.
Some businesses aren’t committed to the portfolio management concept. It’s often because the processes and benefits aren’t well understood, but sometimes senior leaders have unexpected arguments for pushing back on the use of portfolio management.
Before you present your case for the implementation of a more structured and comprehensive approach to project portfolio management, consider some of the reasons your organization may not already be on board with a portfolio strategy.
Concern: Sponsors worry their projects won’t pass muster.
If your company uses the project portfolio as a repository for ideas, stakeholders might assume that periodic reviews will call their proposed project into question before they can build sufficient support for it.
Try this: Explain the review and prioritization process so sponsors understand how it all works. Even if a project lacks backing in the form of sponsorship, funding, or clear alignment with the company’s strategic goals today, the right portfolio management methodology will enable efficient review of all projects without hampering the team—or sponsors—with the vetting process before it’s truly applicable.
Concern: The executives don’t want to dedicate time to the portfolio management function.
The organization’s leadership team is juggling many priorities and portfolio management seems too far down the list to warrant their attention.
Try this: Begin changing their perceptions by discussing the value a strong portfolio management strategy delivers to the company. More efficient use of financial resources is a good place to begin the conversation, but don’t stop there. Demonstrate the cost and time savings that can be gained, as well as the ability to maintain a competitive edge and capitalize on market opportunities before they pass you by.
Concern: Your project team fears they’ll have too much work if the entire portfolio gets the green light.
It’s easy to look at the number of projects in the company’s portfolio at any one time and feel overwhelmed.
Try this: Familiarize team members with the various efforts in the portfolio. Identify those that are still a long way off so people can mentally cross them off the near-term list. Emphasize that scheduling remains a closely controlled step and their workflows will be carefully managed. Highlight where opportunities exist for them to gain new skills or expand a competency they haven’t yet mastered. If they’re excited about the potential for growth and advancement, they’re more likely to embrace a portfolio management strategy.
Concern: Internal dysfunctions make any portfolio management strategy too painful to implement.
Some companies just don’t have the culture or the structure to support portfolio management.
Try this: It’s possible to transition toward a framework that’s more aligned with the portfolio management process. An experienced project management consultancy can often help the leadership team recognize where silos and other internal barriers prevent a more effective approach to portfolio management. Using industry benchmarking and other metrics, you can demonstrate how a holistic strategy—supported from the top down—will result in better ROI for future projects and reduce the risk that strategically important efforts could fail to achieve the company’s objectives.
Once you understand why a strong project portfolio management methodology isn’t on your company’s radar, you can work to dispel the myths and misunderstandings that are holding people back.