2010 APM Conference: Portfolios and Business Stream
APM Project Management Conference
21 October 2010
The Brewery, London
Authored by: Paul Rayner (stream chair)
The Portfolios and Business Stream of the 2010 conference involved five presentations plus a 1/2 hour panel session. The arrangements appeared very professional and the audience of between 35 and 40 attendees appeared to be deeply interested at all times. This interest was reflected in the questions and discussion during the panel session at the end of the day.
Stephen Jenner set the scene by explaining how important portfolio management was. He was asked a question - "How do you get senior management to support or at least work within the disciplines that portfolio management imposes" and this was picked up again during the panel session.
Paul Major's presentation also addressed this issue and he spoke about the people and relationship issues and gave practical guidance to anyone who needs to present a portfolio plan to sceptical senior management.
Tom Docker presented approaches for prioritising the initiatives within portfolios, based on the category of business benefits that each was expected to achieve. It was particularly interesting to see the way that he combined tangible financial and non-financial benefits.
Tim Parr pointed out how concerns had changed over time and in the post-crash austerity that we now find ourselves in, portfolio management, based on a realistic assessment of expected benefits, is essential for making the most out of scarce resources.
Finally, Louse Woodford gave some practical guidance on how to implement portfolio management, based upon her experience at the Ministry of Justice and elsewhere.
In the Panel session, which all speakers except Stephen Jenner were able to attend, the question about managing senior management was again raised. The general conclusion was PMOs/portfolio managers need to communicate the vision, sell the benefits, manage all stakeholders and never give up. Louise Woodford in particular explained how difficult and time consuming it all was. Tom Docker echoed Louise's point but added that whilst investing in better project management might improve delivery performance to save perhaps 10% of project costs, only portfolio management could enable savings of 30% demanded by the Government's Spending Review without serious loss of capability/business performance - which picked up a point made by Peter Gershon in his post-luncheon presentation about the Review and its impact on project, programme and portfolio management.
In short, all the speakers complemented each other. As It was rather like watching pieces of a jigsaw being slotted together to reveal the overall picture. This suggests that the general principles of portfolio management are fairly widely agreed, but that actually putting them into practice is difficult and is all about managing people rather than about tools or technology. The questions to the panel also confirmed this impression.
Speaker presentations from this stream can be found below: