Portfolio Management Essentials-Prioritize the Portfolio


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A portfolio can include multiple programs, and/or the projects within a single program can be a portfolio. A portfolio is just a logical grouping of projects under a common leadership structure.

Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solutions, like WorkOtter, are inputs to a decision maker’s judgment process. Any solution should ensure thoroughness and structure the information in a way that allows a decision maker to make a decision. This includes helping the decision maker know what information is firm, what information is fuzzy, how the information was processed, what information was excluded, and what the solution recommends. The decision maker then must assess all the input before factoring in his or her experience or intuition and making the actual decision.

This 7 part Guide to Portfolio Management Essentials walks a decision maker through the different factors of portfolio creating and planning.

Part 1 of 7: Regulate Capacity Utilization
Part 2 of 7: Prioritize the Portfolio
Part 3 of 7: Assess Where Your Program Has Been
Part 4 of 7: Understand Where Your Program Is Today
Part 5 of 7: Drive Where Your Program Is Going
Part 6 of 7: Business Cases
Part 7 of 7: Strategic Elements of the Portfolio

Part 2 of 7: Prioritize the Portfolio

The second guideline to portfolio success is to prioritize everything in the portfolio. I have heard some leaders say that everything is top priority, but there is no such thing. Simple logic proves that if everything is top priority, everything is of equal priority. If everything is of equal priority, the statement that everything is top priority also means that everything is bottom priority. The statement that everything is top priority is a sure sign of a lack of leadership.

Lack of a leader-established priority order contributes to an ineffective program. Lack of priority order combined with working an organization beyond its capacity creates an organization characterized by dementia, a disoriented organization that is unable to consistently function cognitively.

In the absence of a priority list, program personnel tend to work on what they like to do and then on tasks that are short and easy. The only thing that bumps these tasks in the prioritization process is when someone is yelling for something. Thus, the best yellers, whiners, and politicians often get their work accomplished regardless of its real importance to the organization.

Another pitfall here is a form of hero worship. Yellers who want something done tend to go back to the person who last bailed them out. Sometimes they go directly to that person, violating the chain of command or program structure. The resource wants to be appreciated by the hero, so they do favors for the yeller. Yelling is prevented, but an abusive relationship is spawned.

The yeller now knows that he can quietly call up Sally Sue and get what he wants. This creates absolute havoc. Therefore, even if your organization cannot regulate work so that you don’t exceed 90 percent of capacity, you should at the very least establish and maintain a published prioritized list of projects (including problem fixes and opportunities).

Once your team has decided on their plan and process, PPM software can help you execute that process. WorkOtter helps you successfully execute your program process strategy for project success. Get a demo of WorkOtter and see how we can make your program management effective.

“The Handbook of Program Management: How to Facilitate Project Success with Optimal Program Management, Second Edition” by James T. Brown is a copyrighted work of McGraw-Hill and McGraw-Hill reserves all rights in and to the Content. ©2014 by McGraw-Hill Education. Purchase the book on Amazon.