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Portfolio management - helping plot a strategic pathway in a complex world

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Todays world depends on inter-connectivity as were regularly reminded by experts; the ever-advancing progress of technology, alongside population-related pressures on resources and environmental consequences.

This creates a continuous challenge for organisations when planning for the future. Most organisations try and look ahead by developing a robust strategic plan. But what kind of inter-connected thinking should be used in both the design and delivery of such a plan?

Answers may be found in using portfolio management (PfM) as a thinking tool. In the world of change management PfM generally refers to the co-ordination, in one way or another, of projects and programmes to optimise aggregate outcomes and benefits.

Strategy is normally driven by leaders, seeking long-term goals, who have to think through the consequences of their ideas on a range of stakeholders. The disciplines of PfM can play an important role right at the centre of this process. Its more than just a set of processes, and should be viewed as an approach for working through all aspects of change, from the highest and broadest perspectives to the lowest and narrowest.

Executives and leaders across all organisations should consider harnessing PfM to help them think about the direction of change to take, consider the options for reaching their destination(s), get the balance right and optimise a path through our increasingly complex world.


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  1. Colin Grace
    Colin Grace 26 February 2014, 04:13 PM

    See my blog posting I would like to start a campaign for a Business Change Methodology - BCM which would ideally include some of the following tools: Business Readiness Assessment - is the business ready to support the project?Stakeholder Mapping Tool - who in the business is committed and who is compliant?Change Impact Assessment - what areas need to managed and supported?Communications Plan - focused on the business change impacts not the IT deliverablesSponsor Assessment Tools - how committed is your sponsor and how do they support the project and support lifecyclesResistance Behaviour Assessment - how to measure who needs  support to enable full adoption of the new processes, ways of working etcIt's interesting to note that AMPG are promoting a Change Management Certificate but where is the Axelos approved methodology to integrate with PRINCE2, ITIL et al????

  2. Stephen Parrett
    Stephen Parrett 25 February 2014, 05:09 PM

    AdrianA very good summary; the bridge you mention is paramount.To ensure that linkages are forged with eyes wide open requires senior executives to understand change management better. The harnessing of PfM at the stage of strategy development should lead to a more coherent set of strategic change initiatives, with the risks and benefits better understood.Whilst PfM can pick up the threads of strategic plans and focus on getting the right changes up and running and also expose gaps, it is far better to integrate PfM, Strategic & Business Planning, Resource Planning, Budgeting etc  through adopting a holistic approach.There is a long way to go before all of this comes together across the board, but I am confident that momentum is increasing and going in the right direction.

  3. Adrian Pyne
    Adrian Pyne 21 February 2014, 10:52 AM

    A super blog Stephen.A huge challenge for organisations is HOW they deliver their expensively produced Strategy. A few observations:[a] many executives understand strategy well but have little idea about how to make the needed changes happen. Why should they as that is not what their careers have been about? Change and Operational mindsets are quite different.[b] strategic change often needs more than one change programme[c] strategic change often occurs across the organisation structure, and can act like a virus, and be reacted to in the same wayPfM can provide the bridge between Strategy and Delivery.It can ensure that the right programmes and projects are selected (for the change)It can smooth the interfaces between programmes and operational unitsIt can ensure that the portfolio of programmes remains on course to deliver the whole strategyResourcing, common risks, finance........etc..........And perhaps most importantly, PfM can create the environment for success, e.g. the training and coaching for sponsors and other exec stakeholders, as part of the needed organisanisation culture.