As part of our project portfolio management consulting work, we’ve seen time and again that the implementation of portfolio templates can deliver big benefits. However, many organizations haven’t yet tapped into the full potential of the template approach.
Some businesses aren’t sure how portfolio templates might work in their environments. Others fear that creating even a single template will be too time consuming and cumbersome for their already-stressed teams. Then there are concerns that getting everyone to use the same templates could be a challenge unto itself, and without a good adoption strategy the whole concept may never take root.
Putting together one or more templates for your project portfolio requires some thought and planning, but the results are worth the effort. An experienced project portfolio management consultancy can help you create one of the most useful macro-level templates by developing just five or seven standard activities per project or workstream and using those across your entire portfolio. This type of template delivers new insights and can also provide more structure around your team’s efforts.
If you’re weighing the value of adding portfolio templates, consider how they can help your project process.
One of the primary benefits that come from leveraging templates for your portfolio is the heightened consistency they ensure. Weaving the concept of consistency through everything in the portfolio is tremendously important in maintaining accuracy, in moving your portfolio toward a state that’s healthy and balanced, and in keeping everyone on the same page as they work toward shared goals. Your team members and stakeholders should all have a common understanding of the macro-level tasks that exist within your portfolio and templates enable that understanding.
Templates also give project teams consistency in the way they do things. Whether it’s generating duration-based task estimates, gathering data, assessing risk, or working through resource constraints, templates allow you to carry out activities in the same way every time. Because your list of team members, sponsors, and stakeholders is likely to evolve over time and each project may bring new or additional participants into the discussion, having a template that identifies how core actions are executed is vital to long-term success.
With templates, stakeholders’ objectivity is increased and it’s a more straightforward process to identify areas of interest across the portfolio, to analyze information, and to resolve conflicts. Your group will also have a better foundation for seeing and assessing aspects of the portfolio such as single-activity ownership and logical dependencies.
Because templates more easily bring key information to the fore, they are useful in improving accountability. Your team’s data analytics are streamlined, making deviations, delays, and other issues or potential risks easier to see. In addition, templates enable you to greatly reduce the use of incomplete or potentially subjective data, such as traditional progress reports that rely on estimates of work completed, replacing them instead with metrics that are clear and unbiased.
Overall, templates enable a more uniform and reliable understanding of your portfolio’s information. Stakeholders frequently must interpret the portfolio data they receive but this creates a situation where information could be gathered using one methodology and analyzed using a different methodology. Templates take those variables off the table and provide an orderly and systematic way of reviewing project data.
Finally, well-crafted templates allow your executives to see the big picture. They can get out of the weeds, instead using a macro view that better suits their needs. Senior leaders will be positioned to make informed strategic decisions quickly, with important data—current and accurate—at hand and a timely understanding of where risks and opportunities exist across the portfolio.