Taming the Beast of Project Portfolio Management

by | Dec 8, 2020 | Blog Post

The complexity of project and portfolio selection is a restless beast. But we can tame the monster by implementing the proven process of The New Discipline of Project Portfolio Management. 

A process is simply a collection of activities completed in a specific order. It takes one or more inputs and creates an output that is of value. Decision excellence doesn’t rely on one lucky decision. It is a repeatable process that delivers repeatable results.  

There is a best way to do everything.  If we do something more than twice, we need to define the process, and continually improve it. If we don’t, we’re engaging in needless experimentation.  How many times do we want to reinvent the wheel? What we must do is define and articulate our criterion. We have to know what we want— and why we want it— before we can see how to get there.

Choosing from a limited set of options is easy compared to picking from hundreds of projects vying for attention.  Mastering project portfolio selections requires the combination of a rational, repeatable, and defined process, and a developed sense of intuition. Intuition is the tutor of attitude and action. We can embody the attitude of reasonable risk to learn by creating an environment where intelligent effort is rewarded rather than punished— even when it doesn’t produce immediately beneficial results.

This is no namby-pamby, happy talk. There’s a lot riding on getting portfolio selection and the strategic allocation of resources right. But unless project selection is seen as a process and not an event, then we are likely to jump to the conclusion that any action is right (to be repeated) or wrong (to be avoided) based on short-term results. This is like deciding you’re going in the wrong direction because the freeway ramp first curves in the opposite direction before it loops around to the direction you want to go.

Transparency comes once we get a holistic view of all our projects and the interdependencies between them. Then we’re in a better position to inform our selections. The New Discipline of PPM reduces complexity to something understandable and manageable without falling into traps of oversimplification or impulsive action on what first presents itself.

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This is the fifth post our five-part series exploring project and portfolio selection. Click below to read parts 1 – 4.

Part 1: Product Portfolio Management as a Business Process

Part 2: Payback on Product Portfolio Management

Part 3: The Value of a PPM Central Data Repository

Part 4: The Top 5 Pitfalls that Derail Corporate Decision Making

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