So why doesn't portfolio management stick?

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At one of the earliest APM Portfolio Management Steering Committee meetings we decided to take our own medicine and adopt project management best practice!

We did this by spending some agenda time thinking before doing........What is our vision? What are our measurable outcomes (benefits) and what should be or are our strategic undertakings? Are there lessons that could be learned from other APM Specific Interest Groups in terms of quick wins?  We also asked what has drawn each of us to volunteer to be part of the SIG committee.

In true workshop fashion, out came the large charts which were promptly stuck to the wall, and post-it notes were handed round. Each of us wrote down what we thought the issues and challenges are with regards to portfolio management. These have been grouped into themes and are shown below. What do you think? Whats missing from our list? Why not have your say?!

1. Delivering Strategy

  • Portfolio management should connect the Chief Executive Officer to the outcomes, but there is lack of linkage and understanding between the board and project managers. Portfolio management is that missing link.
  • Organisations do not deliver their strategy effectively through programmes and projects.
  • At the moment, organisations fail to take a long term perspective. They do not link programmes and projects and fail to learn or share lessons learnt.
  • Organisations adopt a knee jerk and piecemeal approach to delivering transformational change.  
  • Organisations frequently do the wrong projects or the right ones badly the first is about doing Portfolio management right.

2. Effective resource allocation 

  • Portfolio management is a means of avoiding conflict in discretionary spending, as it avoids decision making based upon: "Who shouts loudest", "Whose face fits", "How do we feel?" Replacing subjectivity with objectivity
  • Portfolio management should contribute to maximising the use of resources to achieve corporate objectives
  • Projects and programmes fail to deliver resulting in wasted costs and resources to organisations - Portfolio management will help enable organisations to deliver more effectively

3. Lack of understanding of portfolio management

  • Portfolio management, rather confusingly, has no one agreed definition.
  • Thus the understanding and performance of portfolio management is highly variable and sub-optimal.
  • Too many programmes and projects fail which probably should not have begun in the first place, if portfolio management had been functioning properly.
  • We need to be intolerant of failure.
  • We need to become good at influencing senior management to do portfolio management.
  • Not enough organisations understand portfolio management and so the realised benefits are not being shared.
  • Organisations fail to manage their set of programmes and projects.
  • How to measure success of portfolio management?
  • It is not obvious how portfolio management provides value added.
  • The Chief Executive Officer often does not get it there should be evidence of how well portfolio management works.
  • Based on the above, portfolio management can be seen as an overhead and not a mechanism for adding value.
  • There are lots of reasons why the establishment of portfolio management can fail.
  • Too many portfolio management initiatives fail simply because people dont understand it.


Posted by on 16th Feb 2011

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