Implementing a project portfolio brings numerous advantages, but there are some steps your organization should take to ensure you’re able to make the most of those benefits.
One key element to portfolio management success is the use of quality data. Your information should be timely and it must also be clean—free of duplicate records and extraneous information—and normalized to create some standard formatting. Only high-quality data will enable you to pull actionable, trustworthy insights and useful results out of it.
Creating the right data streams can be difficult in companies where information hasn’t been thoughtfully managed in the past, or where internal barriers make it difficult to access the necessary datasets.
If you’re ready to enhance your portfolio management efforts and improve your outcomes, consider these steps to help transform your data so it can give you the insight you need to make the best strategic decisions.
Identify your data sources
Where does your project and portfolio data live right now? Your team probably relies on more information sources than you think, and most aren’t under your direct control.
- Accounting and expenditure platforms
- Document management systems
- Vendor-hosted quote, invoice, and progress reporting tools
- Project management software, either standalone or team-based
- Shared drives and individual devices
- Messaging and collaboration solutions—e-mail, web chat, intranets
Ask your group to list where they pull data from and every platform, vendor, or industry repository that pushes data out to them. You don’t need to achieve complete interoperability between all these disparate systems, but you do should develop a data transformation plan that brings them together to ensure your project- and portfolio-level information is are complete.
Leverage technology to move beyond legacy limitations
Most organizations started with standalone spreadsheets and document solutions, and some continue to leverage those resources. However, businesses that are committed to elevating their portfolio management efforts are moving toward platforms that require less manual data entry and feature more automation to ensure accuracy and integrity of the information. Consider if replacing outdated or rigid technology platforms could help streamline the ways your project and portfolio data is gathered and stored.
Don’t ditch what’s working—improve it instead
People initially adopted spreadsheets and simple word processors because they work, and they still work well for a variety of use cases. The key to transforming your project and portfolio data isn’t necessarily to leave those things behind entirely. Instead, your team will benefit from assessing where those applications are most useful as your operations expand and become increasingly nimble.
- Document creation and reviews may still be effectively conducted using traditional word processing software as part of a team-centric platform
- Early budget forecast cycles might continue to evolve using spreadsheet capabilities, with the data integrated automatically into the portfolio’s broader metrics once the figures have been firmed up and finalized
- Leading-edge collaboration solutions help create a richer experience during group discussions and brainstorming sessions, but don’t overlook the value of picking up the phone and calling a colleague to confirm key pieces information and share ideas
Focus on integration capabilities
Legacy systems within the enterprise were often constrained by silos, either lacking good connections to other infrastructure components or being hindered by functional perimeters that individual groups didn’t want to—or couldn’t—cross. Those limitations have long prevented data from getting where it needs to go, prompting today’s forward-thinking businesses to reduce internal borders that no longer serve a purpose. Look for opportunities to improve your portfolio data through integrations with existing systems, such as those in your accounting, human resources, supply chain management, software development, and construction teams.