6 Things Executives Want to Know About the Project Portfolio

Think a project portfolio management methodology is only useful to your project team? Think again. Broad awareness into the company’s active projects, along with those initiatives that are still in the planning pipeline, offers tremendous benefits to executives and other senior decision makers. The amount of information that can be gathered and analyzed across the portfolio is immense, but among all the data available with a portfolio view, a handful of key metrics and trends are often the most helpful and important.
Project Portfolio
1 – Project performance. Knowing which projects are delivering the anticipated results and which are faltering is a valuable piece of information for high-level stakeholders. Their own career path trajectories—not to mention performance evaluations conducted by board members, business collaborators, financial consultants, and others on the leadership team—may depend on how well the projects in their areas of responsibility have performed over the years. This data is of critical importance if an executive has been tasked with turning around an ailing division or overseeing a can’t-fail project.
2 – Status of project investments. Significant amounts of money are dedicated to projects, particularly those that are highly visible in the marketplace or that will have a strategic impact on the company’s long-term financial picture. With this perspective in mind, the leadership team is keenly interested to see if the company’s expenditures are delivering the expected returns. Those in the C-suite may also want to know where mid-project deliverables stand against expected timing if an initiative is still in the early stages.
3 – Timing of key milestones.With so many projects vying for their attention, executives may quickly want to know the status of important events. These could be far in the future—the estimated launch timing for a new product, for example—or something that’s already been completed, such as which weekend an updated piece of software went live. Between regulatory obligations and the need to keep downstream initiatives on track, the senior management group must maintain awareness of these milestones.
4 – Resource allocations and consumption.Once the organization’s leaders are able to see across multiple projects, they’ll find information about how labor and material usage compares to forecasts to be helpful in working through operational issues in other areas of the company. This level of understanding is also of great use when addressing shortages or potential conflicts, as senior staff often play a key role in reallocating resources to ensure that high-priority projects remain on track.
5 – Issues, problems, risks.All too often, the C-suite is left in the dark when it comes to bad news. Looming concerns may be covered up in hopes the project team can get things resolved before the higher-ups find out about them, or low-level problems sometimes spiral out of control if they aren’t caught early enough. A lack of knowledge about where challenges exist puts the executives in a terrible position as they try to explain to investors or business partners why the company is behind schedule or why additional funding is needed. However, if they’re able to see possible issues ahead of time, the leadership group can be instrumental in implementing a fix before the situation becomes a crisis.
6 – Opportunities for improvement.Once the data is available to see how various projects are performing and where delays, budget overages, workforce conflicts, and other problems have occurred, it’s natural for the senior management group to want to find ways to do better on future efforts. A focus on continuous improvement very often begins at the executive level and can be an important step toward tackling larger, more complex, and more strategically important projects.

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