Consider the initially innocuous question asked recently at a seminar for project managers:
“Why do I need to send high level project information to the PMO/Portfolio Manager, if my senior executive has already approved the “idea” for a new project. The executive wants the project, so isn’t it up to him/her to approve it?”
Suddenly there was a chorus of project managers agreeing – wasn’t this added step a waste of everyone’s time? Can’t we just get on with the project?
The direct answer silenced the room momentarily; then the mindset of the audience totally changed. Wait…it WAS important that the idea or concept for the project went to the PMO/Portfolio Manager for overall prioritization and balancing.
Simply put, a project approved by the said executive may be “wanted” (or “needed”) by that business unit/division, but what about another project from elsewhere in the business – might it not be of greater collective benefit to the organisation?
Instead of concentrating on the individual “piece” we need to look at all the “pieces” collectively in order to achieve strategic value.
More with Less
Portfolio management is about taking that step back and looking at the bigger picture – the pool of funds available for programmes and projects in any organisation – public or private sector – is not infinite. The constant challenge is to do more with less. This means prioritising investment and focusing on those initiatives that will deliver the agreed strategic needs and provide the required benefits.
Compare it to the fundamental concept that in any organisation we need people who are the visionaries, the concept or “big picture” people and those who are the “implementers”, the attention to detail people.
Strategy and Tactics
Typically those “big picture” people lose interest in the day-to-day detail (watch their eyes glaze over when you start talking detailed activities, resourcing and scheduling challenges) and vice versa. A successful organisation needs to ensure synergy and balance with the overall strategy and the tactics of implementation. Sound familiar?
Portfolio management bridges the gap between the “what for” (strategy formulation) and the “how” (day-to-day tactical implementation).
“88% of executives say that strategy implementation is important to their organisations
61% acknowledge that their firms often struggle to bridge the gap between strategy formulation and its day-to-day implementation”
PMI’s Pulse of the Profession 2014
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