Unless your company is running only one or perhaps two projects at a time, you’re missing out on some important benefits if you aren’t using a bona fide portfolio management strategy to plan and execute your project activities. An overarching approach that encompasses all of your initiatives not only pays big dividends, it will also help you identify, address, and even avoid some common project challenges.
Benefit 1: Better visibility of project efforts
Most executives aren’t involved in project details on a daily basis. That means they may sometimes forget which initiatives are on deck, which are wrapping up, and even which efforts are underway at any given time. And unless there’s a clear understanding of the scope of these projects and their impact, it’s also possible the organization doesn’t even realize it has a portfolio. You can gain significant benefits when your project team thinks of initiatives and the effort to plan and execute them in “portfolio” terms, because they’ll be on the lookout for opportunities to better use resources and to plan activities more efficiently. You also want your leadership team to have visibility across the project portfolio so they’re in tune with the strategic importance of each effort as well as what your group is doing as a whole.
Benefit 2: More consistent and accurate data
Among the benefits of adopting a portfolio management mindset is the ability to implement a critical measure of uniformity. Your organization needs a standard, consistent methodology that covers everything from measuring progress to assessing risk. This will provide executives and managers with the kind of information they need to recognize the objectives and the scope of the various project efforts. It also gives them the tools to more effectively track and review the status of projects in the portfolio. With reliable and consistent information in hand, the leadership team can ensure the right initiatives receive funding, and they’ll know the company is getting the best return on its project investments.
In addition, managing efforts as part of a portfolio—where the same methods and techniques are applied to every initiative—helps to eliminate situations where there may be multiple or conflicting versions of a project’s status. With an overarching view available, portfolio management gives executives and managers the ability to quickly and easily assess the performance of their portfolio, programs, and projects. Because they have accurate and consistent information available for review and analysis, they will know which projects are performing well and which ones are at risk. This is valuable data for anyone managing the strategy and vision of the company.
Benefit 3: Better insight available to all stakeholders
Executives may worry that transitioning to a portfolio management mindset means they’ll soon have far too much project data to review. But rather than trying to present the highlights for each project—when senior-level management may only be interested in a handful of key initiatives—the use of solid portfolio management techniques will give PMs the ability to distill the information down to what really matters to the leadership team. This enables them to provide a roll-up that offers clear, actionable data in a simple-to-understand format. Executives need to get right to the pain points or other issues that are of strategic importance, and a current, well-defined rollup for the entire portfolio gives them that. The information available at the portfolio level is also often higher quality than what’s available when each project team is left to its own devices on information collection and reporting, as the portfolio data encompasses risks, issues, and opportunities across every effort under the organization’s umbrella.