Selling portfolio management

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This new SIG has many challenges, no, lets call them opportunities why not? One of these is the promotion, or rather selling (the value of) portfolio management.

I take the view that this really needs to be done at senior levels in an organisation. Why? Well promoting portfolio management I think is different from the promotion of project or even programme management. Those capabilities have often grown in organisations from local centres of excellence and their value gradually recognised. Portfolio management only truly adds value when it operates at some corporate level, and hence needs to be driven at the same senior level (which could be departmental/divisional i.e. does not have to be for the whole organisation).

This means that the primary audience for selling portfolio management is the executive level. And the key sell messages? These fall into three categories, firstly, those which highlight the value of portfolio management to their organisation, e.g. control of investment in projects. Secondly, scare stories, e.g. do you really know how much you are spending on projects that go nowhere? Finally, and for some executive stakeholders perhaps most importantly.what is in it for me?

Sitting alongside this more positive sell is overcoming resistance, because there will be a great deal of this. Remember that high value portfolio management is a new and potentially powerful corporate governance mechanism. Therefore, bad practise will be exposed (and those responsible), pet projects will be exposed, annoying powerful people and autonomy may be reduced which will also annoy some.

So, if you want to sell portfolio management in your organisation, do your stakeholder analysis and develop your sales (stakeholder management) strategy and pick your allies very carefully.

I look forward to lots of disagreement, refinement and outright outrage at some if not all of the above, so much the better, energy will help us develop good practise more quickly.

Adrian Pyne (Portfolio SIG committee member, Chair of ProgM - Programme Management SIG)


Posted by Adrian Pyne on 18th Dec 2010

About the Author
Adrian is a consultant who’s practice for more than 20 years was the delivery or rescue of Change programmes and the design, build, operation of portfolio, programme and project management capability. Starting in telecoms he has worked in commercial and public sectors: e.g. investment/retail finance, central & local government, diversity, nano & energy technologies and mining. Adrian is a visiting lecturer at Nottingham & Kingston University Business Schools. He has always specialised in and championed the people aspects of our profession, notably stakeholder management and behaviour. In recent years much of his practice has focussed on developing cultures and organisations in which programmes and projects can thrive and not merely survive. Adrian has been a long time contributor to the APM, especially within ProgM, e.g. the BoK 6 refresh. He is a frequent speaker, in the UK and internationally, and is co-author of the Gower Handbook of Programme Management. Adrian is RPP certified and an RPP Assessor.

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