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Make the Right Strategic Decisions on Your Project Portfolio

Start with Outcomes

Make the Right Strategic Decisions on Your Project Portfolio

If your organization has been busy managing a portfolio of projects, you should already be aware that the traditional annual planning cycle hinders adaptability of effectively managing the portfolio in today’s continually changing market. Portfolio planning must be continuous to minimize missed revenue and maximize opportunities so your organization can capitalize on new demand that arises throughout the year. Effective portfolio management can help organizations be more agile and improve delivery through reallocation of budget.  However, recent research indicates fewer projects are being completed within budget or meeting initial objectives.

According to Project Management Institute’s 2016 Pulse of the Profession – an annual global survey of project, program, and portfolio managers charting the major trends in project management: only 62% of those surveyed said that their strategic programs met their original goals and business intent, with one-third of failed project budgets being lost. In fact, delivery is becoming more challenging. According to the same study, organizations waste $122 million for every $1 billion invested, a 12% increase over the previous year. More projects are actually failing and creating significant monetary loss for their organizations.

So, while creating a more agile project portfolio can help, but is it enough? Patrick Tickle discusses changing workforces, digitalization, and the pace of disruption. The forces are demanding organizations rea
ssess how we think about project execution.

Is it really about projects?

Start at with the Products, Services or Applications (expected Outcomes) at the Program Level

While programs and projects are the vehicles to deliver your strategy, they don’t represent what you are delivering to meet your strategies.  Your strategy is driven by application, product, and service managers who then create programs to plan and manage how to take an existing product to grow a market, innovate on a service, or create applications that improve customer experience.

Start by focusing on desired outcomes at the program level. When change events happen, managers can adapt faster because the decision to take on new work is now being driven by the end goal (outcome) ensuring the right work is getting done. When you have a strategic roadmap with outcomes and a continuous planning process to reduce risk and monetary loss you know where your gaps are and where you need to execute.

In a December 2016 Forrester report, “Eight Steps for Building Strategic Portfolio Management” report author Margo Visitation offers recommendations business and technology executives should take and the first one is:

“1) Determine and understand the goals and outcomes you want to achieve

Organization need the ability to view and manage strategies, investments, and outcomes in the context of one another. Start with the outcome – at the program level. By doing so you can gain superior visibility and adaptability – and increase your chances of getting those products, services and applications delivered.

One way to accomplish this is by instituting consistent portfolio reviews and incorporating clear, traceable feedback loops to provide continual information. You can then plan collaboratively and use value streams to set priorities, provide quick feedback, identify dependencies, and focus on the big picture.

I invite you to learn more about how to plan for outcomes, but maintain flexibility. The Forrester Report, “Eight Steps for Building Strategic Portfolio Management,” will also show you:

  • Why it is essential to have the right stakeholder in the room to prevent business outcomes from becoming political
  • What leaders who plan new initiatives should consider and identify to determine which initiatives will return the most value
  • How you can use portfolio management for road map development and reality checks

I’d like to hear from you. How are you currently ensuring your plans and outcomes are tightly coupled? Share by leaving a comment below.

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Carina Hatfield
Written By

Carina Hatfield always has a plan. Throughout the years, she has improved her ability to respond and re-prioritize for new ideas and unplanned events. She followed her original plan of becoming a CPA, going into budgeting, forecasting, and strategic planning, until a new idea was prioritized and she took on the opportunity to join Planview. With more than 10 years' experience in helping organizations improve their strategic, forecasting, and planning processes to successfully deliver on strategy, Carina has taken that experience and applied it to her role in Product Management for Planview Enterprise One.