Whiteboard: Project Portfolio Management

Here’s a project management tip: collect projects into portfolios for reporting and search capabilities. (scroll down for a video)

Project portfolios are really just collections of projects. It’s what you do with the whole collection that makes them special. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about the actual projects inside the portfolio; I’m talking about the big black box itself — the actual portfolio. Consider what you can do with the entire entity.

At the bottom of this discussion are employees busy tracking time to actual projects. They don’t care or know anything about the portfolios their projects are in. They just know which tasks their assigned to, and getting those done.

At the top of the discussion are big boxes called portfolios. They just happen to contain active (and perhaps inactive) projects. But it’s the portfolio we’re interested in. How much time did we spend? How much money did we make? Which portfolios are the most profitable? And the losers? Should we shift priorities to include certain portfolios, or keep things as they are?

These are the kinds of high-level questions you can ask of project portfolios, and what typically make up the “scary” subject of Project Portfolio Management. Now that you know what it is, don’t let it scare you; instead, start using the phrase around the office and try out some of these techniques.

You’ll be an instant project management expert!