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We need big cheese for the portfolio cracker

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Portfolio management solves problems. But setting up the business systems, change management and sustained action necessary to deliver it are significant challenges facing our organisations today.

While engagement with programme and project management professionals may suffice when pursuing benefits in those specific disciplines, the strategic content and governance regimes required mean that portfolio management can only be fully exploited through leadership from the most senior levels.

The APM Portfolio Management SIG would like to spread the portfolio message far and wide. Through the APM membership we can reach the practitioners. However, we would like to reach the CxO level i.e. the most senior people within our businesses who could benefit from portfolio management, and more importantly, actually have the clout and leadership to drive and embed it.

We have some suggestions but are seeking to run a workshop where we can come up with concrete ideas around:

  • How to engage one-to-one with the CxO level?
  • What messages would be most effective in connecting problems to remedies?
  • What are the risks in this kind of direct approach?

From this, we would like to prepare some guidance for the APM community around how to get practical backing for portfolio / resource management initiatives.

It would be good to bring together a small group of people who have either been successful in doing this, who have failed gloriously (with scars to share), or who are about to start the process.

Please do post up here with comments or advice, or contact us privately if youd prefer to be involved actively. We want to make this happen soon.


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  1. Adrian Hepworth
    Adrian Hepworth 01 April 2013, 08:05 AM

    Dear DavidI read your portfolio management post with great interest and would like to further support your theories.Any organization looking to initiate a PPM system should look at implementing the system as a project planned initiative for asuccessful road mapthroughout the whole transition process, this will reduce the chaos and resistance to the change, the initiative needs milestones and objective goals to work towards, the transition process will not happen overnight and need leadership support.My background and experiences for the past 20 years has been international, working within the civil infrastructure and oil & gas sectors on large projects. Leadership is a fundamental factor that drives performance. My own experience that may emulate many others is the question is the right person in the right job? The organizational structure, business arena and technology have strived forward. Top leadership positions should be worthy to lead and strive forward by advancing their own knowledge and ability as a key organizational member by retraining in programmes such as Masters & Doctorate Degrees. Growing through the management layers and placed in a position based on experience within the organization is not always the best need for organization; hence do footballers make the best managers? No.  A fundamental mistake of organizations is engaging one-one and making key decisions, it is suggested all layers of management including corporate level use the best practice of consensus decision making. Furthermore a key portfolio management best practice widely used and advocated by myself  is the weekly/monthly reviewing process that undertakes the management of all resource allocation and reduces ad hoc practices in poor decision making, this is further enhanced with the project milestone review process that allows for key decision to be discussed and lessons learned.      How to engage one-to-one with the CxO level?My own experience suggests open door and open communication from both parties, this improves motivation and performance; if communication is not open the risk of communication that needs to reach top management may be too late.   What messages would be most effective in connecting problems to remedies?Create an open communication environment, listen to others, include all team members in problem solving and resolve problems through consensus.   What are the risks in this kind of direct approach?The risk of not implementing this type of approach is that problems are hidden from top management, when they come to light it is late to resolve, this typically causes project time and budget overrun that impacts the portfolio. My experience with successful portfolio management environments is a committed organization to the strategy cause and leadership that motivates throughout all the layersMy experience of poor portfolio environments is a dictatorship type of approach of management that conducts decision making behind closed doors, where motivation is low and communication between senior management and operations is none existent. Hope it helps, thoughts?  Best regards Adrian  

  2. David Dunning
    David Dunning 11 February 2013, 11:26 AM

    Dear all,we're very happy to put discussion up here - but the purpose of this blog was to solicit interest from people who want to be involved in this discussion down to their own specific experiences at 'the coal face', to help us create new thinking and disseminate it as volunteers for the good of us all.Please do discuss here, but also please do contact us if you can be more involved in the workshop and a little material creation.Thanks in advance :-)DD

  3. Patrick Weaver
    Patrick Weaver 08 February 2013, 09:12 PM

    For some reason, a large number of executives seem able to pretend the millions invested by their organisations into projects are:- NOT an investment- Does not involve implementing strategy Once the realisation that managing a portfolio of projects is the same as managing any other investment portfolio attitudes change the trick is to focus on the objective of portfolio management (ROI / value creation), not the techniques.  For more on this see the papers at: Im hoping to have these papers reorganised into an eBook mid-year.