What’s Holding You Back From Project Portfolio Management?

6 minute read

Sara Whitwer

Does your organization use portfolio management? Or are you stuck on the idea that you aren’t ‘ready’ for it yet?

The main thing that is holding you back from portfolio management is your mindset. We hear the same reasons time and time again from business leaders and today we’re going to convince you that portfolio management is for you.

First, we need to bust some of those mindset myths. Here are five excuses holding you back from implementing portfolio management and what you can do about them.

Excuse #1. You don’t know what it is

You’ve heard of portfolio management and people say it’s great, but you don’t really know what they are talking about.

Let’s fix that right now.

A ‘portfolio’ is the group of projects your organization is working on. ‘Portfolio management’ refers to the processes for selecting and running the projects.

Businesses that use portfolio management take a bird’s-eye view of what people are working on. They are able to select the right projects to help meet strategic objectives. They can prioritize work and forecast when new projects can start. They can balance the risk profile of all the things the company is doing and make better management decisions about what to stop and start.

When all that information is at your fingertips, you can balance the portfolio to produce the highest rate of return. And your team members aren’t drowning under the expectation of having to do everything all at the same time.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Overcome by: Now you know what portfolio management is, you can start talking about it to your colleagues. It’s an easy concept to understand. Put simply, portfolio management is a way of seeing, understanding and controlling the scope of all change a business is delivering.

Excuse #2. You don’t think it will give you any benefit

Would you like to know how many projects the business is doing? And how many of them are directly aligned to delivering business strategy? Would you like to know if there are any areas of strategy without projects to support them? Do you know what the priorities are for different teams across the business and who is working on what?

You do want to know those things? We thought so.

Those are all benefits of portfolio management. We haven’t even mentioned the sense of relief and purpose teams feel when they have clear priorities and they know managers are making decisions based on data instead of ‘what feels right in the moment’.

Even the simplest, most basic implementations of portfolio management give you an almost instant return by making the current workload transparent. Then you can prioritize projects even if each one is critical.

Overcome by: Make a list of the benefits that your business will see from moving to portfolio management. Once you start thinking about how much you can gain from consolidating information, standardizing governance approaches and having one place to go for all information on project and change initiatives, you’ll find so many reasons why portfolio management is going to be great for you.

Excuse #3. You think it’s too hard

Portfolio management sounds like an advanced concept – we get it, we’ve heard that from many managers.

If you don’t think you’re ready for portfolio management, think again! Businesses of all sizes and levels of experience can benefit from taking a portfolio approach to managing their work. It’s a simple step to put your profitability, capacity planning and resource planning ahead of anything your competitors are doing.

Overcome by: You do need to put a bit of effort into doing anything new, especially if you haven’t done it before, but the concepts of portfolio management are simple. Enterprise project management software like Eclipse makes managing your portfolio straightforward. With the right tools and a positive attitude, you can overcome this excuse in a matter of hours. Just get started!

Excuse #4. You think you need to have high project management maturity to do it

Often we hear people talking about having to be excellent at project management before they adopt portfolio management. The excuse there is that if the projects aren’t being managed effectively, the portfolio serves no purpose.

That’s untrue.

Portfolio management helps you make the right decisions about what projects to start. It helps you see the whole picture of where resources are engaged across the business. It lets you get real with what you can actually deliver. None of that relies on project management maturity. It’s about making smart choices for your organization and your resources so the right work gets done to the best of your abilities.

You can always improve project management maturity in parallel, using information from the portfolio reporting to identify individuals and projects that need extra support.

Overcome by: This is a mindset change. You can put portfolio management in place to help with project selection and business-wide reporting without feeling like you’ve got project management all sorted out. Support your project managers to get better at leading their work, but there’s no need to wait until you think everything is perfect before you take a portfolio view.

Excuse #5. You don’t have anyone to lead it

If you want portfolio management to be successful, you do need to invest some time in setting up the processes. Someone has to sponsor that initiative, and someone has to do the work.

It might feel like you haven’t got anyone who could spare the time to take on portfolio management at the moment. Have you asked? You might get a willing volunteer who is looking for a new career challenge. Your PMO team have probably been waiting for this opportunity to extent their remit and add more value to the organization.

We’ve already seen (some of) the benefits you can expect from portfolio management, so it is worth spending time getting your core processes set up – they will save you time later.

Another helpful shortcut is to invest in project management software with portfolio management features. Let the software do the heavy lifting for you, using out-of-the-box reporting and processes.

Overcome by: Free up some time for someone to lead the work to implement portfolio management. Extend the capabilities of your PMO team so they can set the business up for success using cutting-edge project management software to manage the whole portfolio.

So: are you ready for portfolio management now? We think you are. There’s nothing big and scary about it, and there’s everything to gain from reframing your work through a portfolio view.

Take the next step with us. Eclipse PPM can support your transition to portfolio management and help you get started the easy way.

For additional tips and insights about project, program and portfolio maturity, consider these additional resources:

 

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