Portfolio managers come out of the woodwork

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In a blog last summer I wondered out loud, Where have all the portfolio managers gone? Well, a Portfolio Management (PfM) survey being run by the APM PfM SIG Committee since last December is beginning to reveal the answers.

With about 150 participants across 18 business sectors, nearly a quarter admit to being called portfolio manager while many others appear to be performing the role under a range of different job titles.

We are extremely grateful to everyone who has taken time to consider the questions and to submit their responses.

The PfM survey is still live, with the aim of achieving 500 participants by the summer when a full interim analysis and commentary will be published.

Please take part if you have not already done so and spread / tweet / blog the link around.
In the meantime, here are some initial findings:

  • Portfolio managers by another name? 23% of survey participants are dedicated portfolio managers, 23% project managers/directors, and 20% programme managers/directors.
  • Do they call it portfolio management? Around 60% of organisations adopt a formal PfM approach.
  • Portfolio control? 40% of portfolios are managed at the organisational level and 25% at sub-organisation level.
  • Portfolio offices? 23% are managed by strategy/planning units, 21% by no single PfM function while 16% have no PfM functions at all.
  • Projects and programmes? 47% of portfolios comprise both projects and programmes, 23% have only projects, and 15% have only programmes.
  • Portfolios are how big? 47% of organisations have between 11-100 projects, 33% more than a hundred while 9% have less than 10. About 80% have projects between 1m to 10m, and 36% have projects more than 10k.
  • Some big fish out there! Nearly 70% of organisations surveyed have programmes between 1m and 10m, 41% have less than 10 programmes, 26% have 11 to 50 and 15% have less than 50.
  • BAU vs. change portfolios? 55% or organisations include BAU in their portfolios, with 46% saying they do not.
  • Which portfolio principles are the most important? The top two are: proactive and visible senior management commitment (63%) and alignment of the portfolio with strategic objectives (59%).
  • What is working? Only 44% think proactive senior commitment is working successfully and only 39% agree that portfolio alignment is effective.

We want to use the survey to understand better the state of PfM today and generate more debate about where it could go. We also want to draw on your expertise to develop case studies and other outreach materials. These can be used at future APM/SIG events (e.g. workshops, Q&A panels at branch meetings and SIG forums, presentations and blogs or by anyone reading this blog within their own organisation.

Currently, the survey shows that the top 3 topics people want to debate are: prioritisation, tools/techniques and delivering portfolio benefits.

So far, over 40 people have kindly volunteered to develop case studies and all are being contacted to get these started.

If you want to join in, or just have your say on portfolio management please spend a few minutes on the survey.


Posted by Stephen Parrett on 27th Apr 2012

About the Author

I have been involved in change management for more than 20 years, mainly in financial services and central government, including Lloyds bank and the Ministry of Justice. My experience has been gained in a wide range of project, programme, portfolio, and planning roles – largely in process design and implementation within central/strategic organisational functions. A significant part of that work centred on setting up portfolio offices (central/local), portfolio construction & analysis and executive-level reporting. I have also developed a number of operating models to support portfolio management, particularly relating to the application of benefits management and strategic change prioritisation scenarios. Since 2005, I have been an independent consultant specialising in designing, documenting and delivering benefits-focused programme & portfolio change management processes, and associated products (e.g. business cases, benefits reviews, and portfolio reports).

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