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What's missing from management of portfolios?

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The Management of Portfolios (MoP) guidance has been in the public domain for quite a while now, and before that, it was available in draft form. However, I am not going to pick holes in it as its a great piece of work that provides an excellent framework with which to organise a change agenda, and a definitive source of terms and role definitions -  fantastic!

There are some bits not quite in line with P3O®, but I’m not going to pick holes in that either!

However , based on my experience across the board, the three areas which I would suggest for extension in the next version are:

1.  resource management (RM) – I don’t think we can separate a portfolio, programme and project management ecology from a wider resource management approach. We need an sensible ecosystem which delivers planning of work in progress and the work pipeline – and manages the changing current and possible future allocation process.

2.  portfolio managing ‘business as usual’ (BAU) work items – so that portfolio management is the work of the business, not just the change of the business. Can we prioritise BAU line items in the same construct as change projects?

I think if you do have the chance to go for a resource management change programme it would be mad not to include RM, and vice versa! However - does this thinking therefore make it just a bit tooooo hard, and is that why the guide does not address RM and portfolio management (PfM) together?

3. promotion of PfM to C-circle executives (eg. CFOs, CIOs, CEOs, etc.)  Surely relying on continuous improvement is not enough to get this off the ground? How many sixes do we have to throw trying to reach the right executive with available attention span?  Is there a typical ‘lifecycle’ for change programmes, and is there correlation between who has the idea for it, who makes the case, who buys into it and funds and how well it penetrates and sticks? Like some people include a DVD in books, maybe a magic wand could be provided in the next MoP manual.

Perhaps I should ask a bigger question - Should we lobby to have MoP™, P3O® and MoV® merged, and made compulsory Institute of Directors joining material?

Should the Portfolio Management SIG look into this? Who would be willing to help?


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  1. David Dunning
    David Dunning 05 September 2012, 08:11 PM

    Evening Patrick,I'm not sure if I understand your comment completely - I don't suggest mixing up portfolio managment and delivery?What I suggest is that resource management should oversee change and BAU, and perhaps we should prioritise change and BAU items - since this will happen - we either do it formally, or informally.D

  2. Patrick Weaver
    Patrick Weaver 25 August 2012, 11:23 AM

    I think this is mixing up several quite different management roles in a totally unhelpful way. Portfolio management should be focused on selecting the right project and programs to maintain or start (and therefore which ones to close or not start). The objective is to maximise value in the long term and support the organisations strategy by optimising the use of available resources. This role is incompatible with the overall management of the projects and programs (the management of project management or project/value delivery capability) which should be focused on supporting and nurturing the selected project combining the two roles makes for an excruciatingly impossible conflict of interest.   In addition there are aspects of governance that over arch both processes. We have been trying to work through the various issues in a series of blog posts at: plus more formal White Papers at After several years of looking, the only certainty is that there is absolutely no consensus in this area. The APM publications seem to be the most coherent (but are largely ignored by executive management) and billions is wasted every year because organisations cannot manage the projects and programs they start effectively from an organisations strategic change perspective.

  3. Chris Walters
    Chris Walters 22 August 2012, 01:10 PM

    Hi David, some good food for thought there.I offer another discussion point:Should portfolio management be pitched at the level of individual projects, change programmes, or products (or even services), or a blend of them all. If a blend is to be the answer, how can you measure them all in common terms to be able to set up a priority order.The question arises when products are the main focus of an organisation's investment decision-making, and product evolution may precipitate a number of change projects for which individual (i.e. incremental) business cases may not be appropriate, but overall product P&L and lifecycle plans are the appropriate proxy.Looking forward to some input on this! Cheers,Chris