Master strategic goals with portfolio and benefits management

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Meeting strategic goals in a consistent and efficient way is extremely valuable. Project managers should help to guide the board to invest money and resources in the right projects and programmes at the right time, based on the delivery of those strategic goals.

Two new books from APM, Portfolio Management – A practical guide and A Guide to Using a Benefits Management Framework, outline ways in which portfolio, programme and project managers can help you master strategic goal delivery. The first book helps you with the selection, prioritisation, management and control of an organisation’s project and programmes to deliver the strategic objectives. The second book focuses on creating a benefits framework, which helps you to make sure that projects deliver on their strategic goals.

Here’s a taster of the advice from the two books, and how they relate to each other. To really master strategic goal delivery, we recommend that you read them together.

Portfolio management: better decisions

Portfolio management is all about prioritisation, control, organisation and management. It needs to be integrated into the business planning and management cycles and the organisation’s executive governance. Portfolio management centres around engaging stakeholders, particularly senior team members. A full definition of portfolio management is outlined in the APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition.

With the vision, corporate goals and strategy disseminated from the senior leadership, a portfolio or portfolios are put together with the express aim to deliver on business goals. Consideration should be given to existing projects and programmes, ongoing business as usual and new initiatives – they should be ranked according to priorities set by the goals. Portfolio development involves managing the investment and initiatives to optimise delivery of the goals and within those goals the return of investment (ROI).

It’s all about focusing on the strategic goals and driving better decision making, enabling portfolio executives to make calls on what starts, what stops and what resources should be transferred to other projects to meet the goals more effectively.

Benefits management: get your priorities straight

By creating a benefits management framework, you can align project benefits with business key performance indicators (KPIs), and see which should be prioritised for investment. As you can see, it’s related to portfolio management, but while the former is a way to organise your projects to give a high-level view of progress and performance, as well as how to achieve strategic goals, benefits management is about ongoing monitoring of projects to make sure they deliver benefits they should be delivering. Think of it as providing the evidence to the portfolio to help inform those high-level decisions.

Benefits management provides a basis for assessment at the start and end of each phase of a project. It should ideally support decisions that increase the benefits realised. This can apply equally in waterfall and agile project management processes.

In waterfall project management, benefits are usually realised after delivery of capability, and the focus of project management is often on delivering the capability (or outcome) through an output. Agile project management reviews the benefits delivered by each sprint and designs the next sprint to build on those benefits. Again, more information can be found in the life cycles section of the APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition and APM Learning.

Combining this with portfolio management allows the organisation to take both a granular and big picture on the effectiveness of projects when it comes to delivering against strategic goals, making project management more valuable to the business at executive level.

Both guides reflect the experiences of practising project professionals. Portfolio Management – A Practical Guide is written by APM Portfolio Specific Interest Group (SIG) members Mike Florence, Steve Leary, Richard Moor, Marina Morillas Lara, Stephen Parrett, Lynne Ratcliffe and Adam Skinner. A Guide to Using a Benefits Management Framework is by joint authors Dr Hugo Minney and Sarah Parris, on behalf of the APM Benefits and Value SIG.

We will dig into portfolio management and benefits management in more detail in two future articles. Learn more about managing a portfolio here, and explore how to design an effective survey on Benefits Management.

Brought to you by Project journal.
Mark Rowland

Posted by Mark Rowland on 28th Aug 2019

About the Author

Mark Rowland is a senior writer on the Project editorial team. He has worked as a business journalist and editor for 15 years, and has won awards for his writing and editing. He has also worked in project and product management, overseeing the launch and continuous development of new websites and publications. Project is the official journal of the Association for Project Management (APM).

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