Welcome to the Summer 2019 edition of the APM Portfolio Management SIG newsletter

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  1. Introduction
  2. Portfolio Management conference
  3. The agile portfolio: Fact or fiction?
  4. “Managing the Portfolio” thought leadership series
  5. APM Portfolio Management guide
  6. Other branch and SIG events
  7. New committee
  8. LinkedIn
  9. Did you see?
  10. Get in touch

1. Introduction

Welcome to the summer newsletter for the APM Portfolio Management SIG. As the holiday season draws to an end, we look back on a successful summer of portfolio management activities, from our conference in May to the launch of the portfolio management guide later this month. The SIG also has a new committee following elections earlier this year.

2. Portfolio Management conference

The room in the Holiday Inn, Bloomsbury was packed on Thursday 23 May at this year’s APM Portfolio Management SIG conference with over 150 participants. As well as seven top-class speakers, volunteers from other APM SIGs joined us to lead the three workshops, and we finished with the panel session and our popular evening networking upstairs at the Marquis Cornwallis across the road.

Lynne Ratcliffe, SIG co-Chair, opened the conference, welcomed our guests and introduced Adam Skinner who was ‘Master of Ceremonies’ for the day. Adam outlined the day’s agenda and introduced our first speaker, John McIntyre, from Ticketmaster.

John described the new approach Ticketmaster take to agree objectives with their teams using ‘OKR’ - Objectives, Key Results. The idea is to challenge traditional ways of setting objectives and break the cycle of agreeing achievable goals within a defined ‘safe’ time frame. The traditional approach tends to constrain objectives and discourages significant over-achievement.

Next to present was Simon Harwood talking about Direct Line and their journey in prioritising and balancing the programmes and projects with demand and the available resources. Simon explained how they assessed their capacity, developed the estimating, planned and scheduled the programmes and projects whilst managing the stakeholders. His talk outlined his personal experiences and he offered five key lessons.

Richard Moor then outlined our new Portfolio Management - A practical guide which will be available in late September, launching at the APM Women in Project Management conference 2019.

Mark Lewis and Ricky Harvey then summarised the outcomes from our successful Directors’ Dinner “The agile portfolio: Fact or fiction” which was distributed at the conference. They explained how they implemented their portfolios and the relevance of the agile approach. The publication is available from the APM website and the link is at the bottom of this article.

Following lunch, the delegates took part in their selected workshop:

A: Benefits management, led by Neil White and Merv Wyeth from the APM Benefits and Value SIG. Using Mentimeter, they established the key elements of a benefits framework and the participants shared how their organisations were implementing benefits management. (You can download the output of the Benefits Management Framework workshop for free from the conference website.)
B: The Agile PMO – its organisation, people and value. Andy Honey led the session and described two examples of where a PMO used portfolio management techniques.
C: Governance, led by Martin Samphire, chair of the governance SIG. Martin discussed the project controls and management information (MI) required to run portfolios.

NATs have changed their ways of working and Simon Lansdowne outlined the drivers for change and how they responded by implementing portfolio management, with significant success in improving control of the portfolio and establishing a focus on benefits. NATs won the APM Project of the Year award for 2018.

The final presentation was from Karina Singh and Annie Wareham who explained how HM Land Registry has transformed their organisation and how they managed the benefits using their people and change frameworks and how they successfully embedded the cultural changes whilst adapting to the political demands and environmental pressures.

The speakers together with the SIG committee

Following the panel session, Steve Leary, as co-Chair, thanked the speakers, the sponsors, the SIG committee and the conference participants who had made the day such a success.  About two thirds of the attendees then went across to the Marquis Cornwallis to continue networking.

The presentations and workshop outputs from the conference are available to view.

3. The agile portfolio: Fact or fiction?

Our latest opinion piece was launched at the conference in May, distilling the lively and thought-provoking conversation from the inaugural Portfolio Directors’ Dinner at a posh restaurant in London. The conversation focussed on three areas:

  1. Exploring the experiences of the Portfolio Directors delivering their portfolio functions in organisations that have significant elements of agile delivery.
  2. Discussing the key principles that sit behind Agile Delivery and Portfolio Management – are those principles complimentary or in conflict?
  3. Imagining how portfolio management could work in a perfectly functioning agile organisation – what would it need and what could it do?

Download it from the SIG website to find out more, and give us your thoughts about it in our LinkedIn group.

4. “Managing the Portfolio” thought leadership series

The four reports in the SIG's thought leadership series are now complete and published. Collectively, they provide an end to end perspective on what it takes to initiate and embed portfolio management within an organisation. We live in interesting times and since the first report was published in 2017, there has been much political and economic uncertainty, impacting the scale and complexity of change across all organisations.  The ability to steer the organisation's change though this journey is now more important the ever. 

The four reports in the series are:

  • ‘Recognising the need to change: six telling signs’ – published May 2017.
  • ‘Making sense of all of the change and gaining visibility: clearing the fog’ – published May 2018.
  • ‘Prioritising and compromising: shaping the pathway’ - published October 2018.
  • ‘Leading and optimising the change: delivering the overall prize – published May 2019.

The series’ author Peter Glynne says “I’m looking forward to developing the next thought leadership report on the impact of Brexit on how change portfolios are being managed across the UK and beyond.”

5. APM Portfolio Management guide

Due for release at the APM Women in Project Management Conference London 2019 this September, the APM’s guide to portfolio management brings together the challenges, successes and experience of over 60 organisations who have presented at our conferences and events.  It describes best practice from both the public and private sectors, and has been co-written and reviewed by experienced portfolio directors, managers and consultants. The guide emphasises the practical aspects of portfolio management – what it is and how to do it.

The guide covers key topics from what portfolio management is, through adopting and implementing portfolio management and dealing with key challenges. There are over a dozen “caselets” giving examples of how portfolio management principles were applied in real-life situations, such as managing systemic project risks at a portfolio level and managing portfolio reviews.

We hope you find it valuable and useful in developing portfolio management in your organisations. You can read more about the guide on the SIG website.

Pre-order your copy for only £19.99.

6. Other branch and SIG events

Since the last newsletter, the SIG has had two workshops with other SIGs:

  • In June Nancy and Tanya from the committee attended the second in the series of joint workshops with the APM Governance SIG.  The workshop focused on the accountabilities and responsibilities of the Portfolio Sponsor; the challenges faced by the Board fulfilling that role; and the governance mechanisms (including performance reporting) needing to enable effective portfolio decisions. The shared thinking will be taken forward in future workshops and potentially lead to a joint paper in the next year.
  • On 7 and 8 June, Petula and Lynne attended the APM Volunteer Forum in Newcastle. It was a great event sharing best practice and questions from other SIGs and branches. There was also a presentation on APM strategy and an overview on the Golden Thread paper on its launch.
  • Richard, Tanya, Adam and Lynne had a second workshop with the APM Enabling Change SIG, where we explored how we can make a step change in our joint working. We decided to organise an event in November involving a wide range of stakeholders with the aim to share experience of embedding portfolio management at a strategic layer in organisations.

In addition, the APM Portfolio Management SIG participated in the recent workshop held by APM to understand and develop the future strategy for the SIGs; it was a productive session with lots of contributions in a well facilitated event. The outputs and all the great ideas and suggestions are being reviewed by the Volunteer Steering Group and the APM will be arranging a follow-up ‘sharing’ session.  We’ll keep you posted as and when we know more and what changes if any that might mean for the PfM SIG.

On 19 July Steve presented Portfolio Management to the Midlands Corporate Members meeting in Birmingham. After lunch the participants discussed their portfolio management challenges and shared potential solutions in a lively exchange.

7. New committee

Following the online committee election, we welcome Osian Evans, Judd Norton and Neil Pattinson to the committee who will bring their ideas and help continue our successful SIG.

Thanks to Paul Morgan, Simon Darby and Anna Byrne for their contribution for the 2018-2019 committee, and Paul’s and Simon’s contributions in previous years.

We have also just elected new co-Chairs – Adam Skinner and Petula Allison, and Lynne has volunteered to be the Secretary. Thanks to Steve and Lynne for their work as co-Chairs this year.

8. LinkedIn

45 people have joined the LinkedIn group for the APM Portfolio Management SIG following its launch at the end of 2018. We would love to hear from you about what you would like from this group. We also encourage you to share anything you think may be of interest to your peers. Join the group and be part of the conversation.

9. Did you see?

Adam Skinner’s blog about the value of the project sceptic, and how the balance between a unified team and a healthy challenge needs to be maintained.

10. Get in touch

We would like to hear your feedback about these quarterly newsletters. Are the newsletters too frequent? Not frequent enough? Too long? Too short? Please get in touch with any comments or suggestions to portfoliosig@apm.org.uk 


Posted on 12th Sep 2019
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