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What is Portfolio Management?

(article by Craig Kilford, sourced from project:tipoffs)

You can read the formal definitions in the MoP guidance but fundamentally, as I explained it to my mum, Portfolio Management is an overarching state of being that people and organisations are rushing to adopt because:

  1. It will help you make the right investment decisions with regards to what projects and programmes (change initiatives) you should buy for your organisation, i.e. those that will contribute most to your strategy;
  2. It will help you make sure those investments actually deliver the bang you were promised for the buck you invested.

What is management of portfolios?

Management of Portfolios is the new kid on the block in the OGC’s suite of Best Practice publications. Its evolved from the incredibly popular (I would say that) 2008 consultation draft that the OGC gave away as a free PDF download, to a fully fledged, grown up, bells and whistles, fully-loaded Best Practice OGC publication.

You will notice that the principles, cycles and practices from the consultation draft still exist in the 2011 full version. Actually, I look at the 2008 version now as the Calvin Klein underwear model of Portfolio Management, in that it looked very sexy, was in pretty good shape and really got the message out there. However the 2011 version has been working very hard in the gym for two years and now looks likes Arnold Schwarzenegger, bigger, bolder and much more powerful although it has a very well-to-do British accent!

Growing these bigger Portfolio Management muscles was due to two key things in my opinion. Firstly, we’ve all been using Portfolio Management for a couple more years now and so there’s lots more experience and lessons learned out there to include. Secondly, and whilst I’ll probably never live this down, I have to say that Steve Jenner’s involvement was absolutely critical because his experience, outlook and personality added something very special to the equation and I feel extremely fortunate to have worked with him.
Why should a PM, Programme Manager or PMO care about MoP?

Projects, Programmes and PMOs only exist because someone somewhere made the decision to invest in their change initiative and the reason the decision was made is because they felt the benefits of doing this change added value to the organisational strategy.

Therefore, it is the duty of all involved to ensure that value is realised by the organisation. I know I’m having an analogy day but if we are focused simply on changing the spark plugs and exhaust system without being concerned that it will make us go faster more economically, what’s the point in doing it?

As a final note, I’m pretty sure if Shakespeare were alive today he would say “To invest or not to invest, that is the question”. This question is top of the pops in many public and private organisations at the moment and will be for a long time to come. People are much more cautious about spending these days. Fundamentally, Portfolio Management helps organisations invest in the right changes for their business, it helps them deliver those changes in the right way and in so doing puts the energy of its people smack-bang in the middle of it all. I can’t think of anything more important in today’s organisation.

Craig Kilford is a Portfolio Management Mentor and Author.  He specialises in  delivering  high  energy  creative  workshops  that  help  teams at all management  levels  get  real value from using Portfolio Management.  Craig wrote the OGC’s Think P3O, the Portfolio Management guidance in 2008 and is co-author  with  Stephen Jenner on the OGC’s Management of Portfolio’s 2011 which will be released by the OGC in February 2011.

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