All your projects and programs make up your portfolio. But how much time do you actually spend on your projects, and how much time do you spend on emergency fire drills or waste through multitasking? This book gives you insightful ways to rank all the projects you’re working on and figure out the right staffing and schedule so projects get finished faster.
The trick is adopting lean and agile approaches to projects, whether they’re software projects, projects that include hardware, or projects that depend on chunks of functionality from other suppliers. Find out how to define the mission of your team, group, or department, with none of the buzzwords that normally accompany a mission statement. Armed with the work and the mission, you’ll manage your portfolio better and make those decisions that define the true leaders in the organization.
With this expanded second edition, discover how to scale project portfolio management from one team to the entire enterprise, and integrate Cost of Delay when ranking projects. Additional Kanban views provide even more ways to visualize your portfolio.
Q&A with Manage Your Project Portfolio author Johanna Rothman
What is the project portfolio?
The project portfolio is the ranking of work from #1, #2, #3, to never. It’s all the work the organization might consider and the relative rank.
How is the project portfolio different from the product roadmap?
A product roadmap optimizes for features—when the team delivers them—for a given project or program.
A project portfolio optimizes the work through the organization.
When you flow work through teams, the team can take the next chunk of work off a given product roadmap, finish it, and get the next chunk of work. If this project is done enough—so that the product roadmap says, “Yes, release”—then the team can take the next project. That project might be on another product roadmap.
What are the advantages of managing the project portfolio?
Everyone has a project portfolio. If you manage it, you avoid these problems:
- emergency projects
- not being able to tell when any project will be done
- needing experts, and having to move people around to just the “right” project at just the “right” time.
Aside from avoiding all these time-wasters, everyone focuses on delivering against the organization’s strategy. You’re all working together, not separately.
How does project portfolio management work?
First, collect all the work. I like to start with a team or a couple of groups, not more than that. Now write a sticky with each project or chunk of work on it. Place the sticky in the box in the figure to see where it goes.
You’ll notice there is an Unstaffed row, too. As you work through the project portfolio the first time, you’ll discover work you or your team should not be doing. You might not be able to stop doing it until you have someone who can take the work.
Once you have a draft portfolio, you can work with all the other people across the organization to decide how your portfolio interacts with theirs, how often you want to reevaluate the portfolio, and how to visualize the portfolio.
What will people take away from reading your book?
They will learn how to create the first draft of their project portfolio. Once they have that, they will learn to rank each chunk of work, and how to meet to discuss the portfolio as an organization. There are chapters about measurements, both project/program and portfolio measures, as well as chapters about scaling, mission, and strategy.
Any manager—project and program managers, directors, VPs, CxOs—either needs to manage the project portfolio or is affected by portfolio decisions. They will be able to create and manage their project portfolios.