Portfolio Management: Connecting Strategy with Projects
July 11, 2022 |
8 min read
Effective portfolio management – in other words, prioritizing investment in organizational change – is now more widely recognized across both public and private sectors.
Previously, it was the responsibility of individual projects and programmes to meet objectives and deliver an overall outcome. This can, and should, be done at the next oversight level to align strategy to even the smallest project.
From my experience in recent years in the UK defence industry, the ability to look from the portfolio level – to prioritize and join things up in a systematic way – has become more important. Defence’s major change in 2011 – with decision making for projects and programmes delegated to different commands – was part of the journey to a portfolio view.
This is the next step in maturity for projects and programmes: understanding how everything fits together across the organization.
Embracing the portfolio management approach
It takes time for an organization to fully understand how portfolio management works and what it means in reality.
It’s certainly a difficult challenge when people are invested in their individual activities. However, we are starting to see instances where true portfolio management – in which change initiatives are started but then maybe stopped or paused as they’re no longer needed by the system overall – is filtering into common practice.
Management of Portfolios (MoP) – an anchor point for making recommendations
In consulting, it’s important to ratify your recommendations based on experience and industry best practices.
Management of Portfolios (MoP) – which I achieved last year – has definitely given me that ability.
For example, I regularly use the detail about definitions in roles and governance boards alongside the more conceptual elements – including portfolio definition delivery – which help spread awareness of how the guidance works.
Being able to separate the ideas of portfolio definition and delivery is also useful when justifying recommendations. By calling out the differences between the two concepts ensures that results are achieved more quickly.
MoP – working with project and programme managers
What tends to be most important for project and programme teams is seeing a goal and aiming for it. However, their difficulty lies in recognizing if and when their change initiative needs to adjust course.
So, being able to use a portfolio management approach such as MoP helps them understand the need to align change activities with overall strategy.
This helps greatly with motivation – especially when they see that what they’re delivering is part of an overall, organizational “puzzle”.
Research that we’ve done on psychological safety in teams has shown that having a vision is one of the key elements for successful teams. Seeing how their work connects with a broader objective – and it’s safe for the team to challenge and take risks without being reprimanded – gives them a sense of purpose and motivation.
Obtaining industry-recognized certifications is really useful as a consultant. It enables me to demonstrate that I have absorbed the knowledge and have the certification to prove it.
Among our community of portfolio managers, MoP is the certification we aim for and gives us a shared language for portfolio assignments.
I’m certainly seeing greater recognition for what portfolio management can enable in complex change environments and when trying to deliver a capability. That is because it supports the link between high level strategy and the projects and programmes delivering change.