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Project Portfolio Management 101

balanceProject portfolio management is not just about multitasking. According to an article by Duncan Haughey, the main goal of a portfolio must be to achieve a specific business objective. By directing all of your projects in this way, Haughey suggests you are able to ensure that projects are done correctly, and, perhaps more importantly, you are doing the right projects. To gauge the effectiveness of your portfolio, Haughey recommends asking five specific questions:

  • Does each project contribute to the overall achievement of the portfolio?
  • How well is each project performing?
  • Will any projects have a negative impact on other projects to come?
  • What projects in the portfolio are dependent on others?
  • Will the successful delivery of all projects deliver the desired objective or benefit?

Yes, multitasking is involved in project portfolio management. However, as you can see, there is a good deal more to it than that. Haughey reminds us what working at a portfolio level is really all about:

Working at portfolio level is about working with summary or key data. It is important to avoid information overload. The detail of each project should be kept at the project team level, managed by the individual project managers. Key information should be rolled up and presented at each level within the organisation as appropriate. At executive VP level you are likely to be providing a summary of performance, progress and a measurement of estimates against actuals and costs.

Once we gain an understanding of project portfolio management, we must begin to act on it for the benefit of our organizations. This may mean using project portfolio management software. Keep in mind that not software will have equal benefit for your organization. Haughey recommends making sure the software you chose fits a certain criteria, including project evaluation process or methodology, cost and benefits measurement, and progress reporting among a few other things. Project portfolio management, as Haughey notes, must “get benefits the organisation wants.”

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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