Project Portfolio Management

Constrain First or Constrain Last When Populating a Project Portfolio?

Is it better to establish constraints initially or last? In a post at his blog, Kiron Bondale elaborates on these two options to see which is better for project portfolio management.

According to Bondale, “The essence of portfolio management is deriving the best possible outcome for the organization given that there are finite resources such as funding, time or capacity of skilled staff.” Realistically, there is a specific amount of resources that can be utilized, and it is important to find the best mix of projects to maximize the use of these resources. When the resources are maximized, the most value can be realized.

One of the first and most important decisions that leadership will make concerning a project is whether they will constrain first or last. Constraining first will limit the amount of resources utilized. After a constraint has been acknowledged and selected, there is no need for any further proposals. This method is great at preventing the organization from taking on too much and consequently failing. It additionally prevents executives from getting their hopes up about a project that will not happen. The drawback to constraining first is that it is based on the idea that constraints will not change. Change is inevitable, so when it occurs, there are problems in adapting the constraints.

Constraining last allows for long-term planning of projects and frequent updates of the projects. This approach relies on estimates of costs and resources to create a constraint model. The greatest benefit in constraining last is that it creates a “dynamic approach to portfolio management.” For example, if it becomes evident that a particular constraint is no longer relevant, the model can be adapted. Additionally, this approach helps the organization look at the big picture and better align with their strategic objectives.

Both approaches have their merit, and neither is more “right” than another, but it is an important decision that needs to be chosen uniquely for the organization. You can read the original post here:

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