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Determining Return: The Perfect Balance for a Project Portfolio

In an ideal world, every project with an innovative idea behind it would come to fruition. Unfortunately, as we all know, this is not an ideal world, so technology managers must work with tight budgets. This means deciding which projects are worth pursuing by using project portfolio management (PPM). According to Nelson Wang, PPM should be an ideal “way of analyzing a company’s entire slate of tech projects as though they were financial investments:” The first step: Take an inventory of projects and their costs and objectives. Doing so can reveal what’s redundant or off-strategy. Oil services giant Schlumberger for example, identified $9 million of waste, says Mike Metcalf, a vice president at portfolio-management software maker Pacific Edge. Evaluate each project on the risk and reward measurements that matter to your company. Think of PPM as a method of scoring what you have. Certain measures of reward, as Wang notes, will be straightforward and easy to gauge. Wang uses the example of a payback period. Other more qualitative measures, such as how well business objectives are supported, should be considered as well. Not limiting your company to one method of PPM will surely increase the overall potential for return.

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