Practical advice on setting up and managing your portfolio

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A couple of years ago the APM Portfolio Management Specific Interest Group (SIG) saw a gap in the market for a practical guide to portfolio management.

We realised that with our conferences, event presentations and workshops we had a unique resource covering over 60 examples of setting up and managing portfolios, together with many successes and challenges, and a good understanding of what works and what doesn’t in a wide variety of public and private sector organisations.

We decided to distil this information into Portfolio Management – A practical guide, focused on planning, implementing and sustaining portfolio management, and formed a core team of practising portfolio managers to structure it and start writing.

So if your governance isn’t as effective as you would like, look at section 2.2 Portfolio governance

“Portfolio governance is part of the organisation’s overall decision-making model and needs to be embedded into the organisation’s top level-governance...portfolio management governance looks across the portfolio [and] assesses whether the initiatives are contributing to achieving the strategic goals...This is measured in terms of ‘to go’ costs and the contribution to meeting the strategy. If the strategy can be achieved quicker or more effectively by reallocating resources to other initiatives, then this should be done.”

Perhaps you want to assess how effective your portfolio reviews are by exploring section 3.4 Portfolio reviews.

“a portfolio review is for the executive committee…to decide whether the portfolio comprises the most effective set of projects and programmes to deliver the strategic goals in the appropriate timeframe...Questions to ask during the portfolio review include...Have the strategic goals changed or are there significant market changes, limits on progress, or changes in the business environment that impact on the strategic goals?”

Or if you’re having a few difficulties with your organisation’s vision, goals and strategy – have a look at section 4.6 Challenges for portfolio managers, and maybe get some ideas on how to address them.

“...the vision may not be completely clear...The portfolio team, through the executive, needs to ensure that the goals are clear and prioritised, and address and resolve any ambiguities with the board.”

Of course, if your executive management still need convincing about the benefits of portfolio management have a look at the Executive summary at the beginning of the guide for the nine key ways portfolio management contributes to organisation, and section 1.2 How portfolio management contributes to organisations:

“[Portfolio management] takes into account the constraints of opportunity, threat, resource availability, affordability, customer impact and the organisation’s capacity to absorb and manage change through application of key, consistent processes.”

We hope you find it valuable and useful, and that it meets our primary SIG aim of contributing to help organisations meet their corporate goals. Please send us your feedback, comments, and suggestions.

The new APM Portfolio Management – A practical guide will be available mid-September, priced at just £19.99. The official launch is at the APM Women in Project Management conference on 26th September where you can purchase a copy. 

The guide was authored by Portfolio SIG committee members, Mike Florence, Steve Leary, Marina Morillas Lara, Richard Moor, Stephen Parrett, Lynne Ratcliffe, Adam Skinner.

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Posted by Steve Leary on 19th Sep 2019

About the Author

Steve has over 30 years’ experience in project, programme and portfolio management as consultant and interim manager. He has successfully designed, planned and delivered transformational change and continuous improvement in a variety of industries including pharmaceutical, banking and finance, manufacturing, utilities, central government and research and development. Managing major complex portfolios and programmes, Steve has also developed strategies, motivated and coached teams, embedded change and delivered the benefits.

As well as being a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the APM, Steve was co-chair of the portfolio management SIG in 2017-18 and 2018-19 and has spoken at several branch and APM events on portfolio management.

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