Focussing on the WHY of your portfolio

Insights | 22 December 2015

Do your executives (and you) have a clear understanding of what your portfolio is trying to achieve?

Portfolio management focusses on ensuring that the ‘right’ initiatives (programmes and projects) are undertaken in your organisation, with an aspiration of ‘doing things right’ at the collective level. The crux is that strategically we are doing the right initiatives, not just at a business unit or divisional level, but at an overall enterprise level.

Sometimes, in the ‘busyness’ of managing our portfolio, we can get consumed by the inner complexity of the very initiatives.

So… take a step back… do a quick sanity check of your portfolio: what is it really trying to achieve?

Portfolio Charter/Portfolio Strategy Checklist

Have you clearly articulated and agreed the following with your executives, often in the equivalent of a Portfolio Charter/Portfolio Strategy:

  1. The vision of the portfolio (think where you want to be as a result of this portfolio)
  2. Key (measurable) objectives of the portfolio
  3. Strategic alignment (which organisational strategic objectives are specifically targeted by this portfolio?)
  4. Key benefits to be realised (tie back to strategy)
  5. Key dates/milestones
  6. Key risks potentially impacting the success of the portfolio
  7. Overall budget
  8. Agreed success factors (think KPIs for the portfolio)
  9. Accountability (eg Portfolio Director as “owner”/sponsor of the portfolio)

Such a document does not need to be lengthy or verbose; conversely it should succinct, describing clearly the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of your portfolio.

In essence, a portfolio charter or strategy is a ‘must have’ in successful portfolio management, providing:

‘ …a longer-term overview, linked to the strategic planning cycle, of the portfolio and what it is designed to achieve, as well as the means by which the objectives will be achieved…

Management of Portfolio (MoP)®, 2011

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