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10 Portfolio Management Practices to Avoid

Sometimes our portfolio management practices and the practices of others are enough to make us sick. Simple mistakes lead to big problems time and time again. What if there was a way to prevent this? Think of it in terms of the cold season. If there was a list of tips available to prevent getting sick, you would follow them, wouldn't you? An article by Ian Carroll details such a list in which we find out what portfolio management practices should really be avoided:

  1. Belief that a tool will save the company (without the support of staff)
  2. Introduction of standard one size fits all templates
  3. Generating pointless, zero value stats
  4. Insisting Project Managers sit together as a team
  5. Focusing on the process ignoring the product
  6. Introduction of a Time Recording system
  7. FTE and running more projects than the number of teams to service them
  8. Describe themselves as the interface to the business for IT
  9. Change control
  10. Project vs. product

As is true with most things in life, if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Carroll reminds us that hoping that a project management tool will solve all your problems will lead to grave disappointment:

Silver Bullet – We need an “Enterprise Class Programme Mgmt Tool”. Anyone who has worked with me will know how much I dislike electronic automation tools. I’ve worked at many organizations that have introduced such tools and never yet seen any of them deliver on their promises. A consistent pattern across all these orgs has been the burden (and cost) the tools have placed on the organization without any improvement in project success. When I discuss these tool failures with advocates of said tools the response I always get is “obviously they weren’t implemented properly”.

Just as a one size fits all method does not work for project management tools, it also does not work for templates. In most cases, having these things is just to make project managers feel better rather than generating progress for the organization. The same can be said of stats that do not seem to mean anything.

There are also a fair amount of organizational practices to avoid. For example, there really is no need to force project managers to work together in teams instead of allowing them to work with the development teams they are serving. While this may seem to create a greater flow of leadership within a company, it in fact may lead to decreased productivity within project teams.

Whether or not you agree with Carroll’s practices to avoid, it is important that you take a look at the practices within your own organization. Perhaps things are not working the way they should, so maybe stepping out and trying a new method is the way to go. Portfolio management will always come with risk, but avoiding certain practices may make the path to success a little less treacherous.

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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