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New Post 5/20/2017 10:59 AM
User is offline Jayman21
28 posts
9th Level Poster

Techniques and Methods for Managing Project Portfolio 
Hello All,
I have just to moved into a new department to work along side a project portfolio team. As the resource its my responsibility to review and advise on how projects are received, assessed and evaluated, allocated delivery teams to deliver and managed at portfolio level.  Though this is the role of the portfolio manager, I have been called in as an interim to cover.

Can I ask for your comments and advise?
1. Techniques and methods that can be used? 
2. Are there spreadsheets template one can use?

3. How to evaluate cost and benefit and to prioritise projects to know which should be delivered first or last.
4. Whats recognised certifications cover portfolio management?
5. What are the most common problems and issues involved?

Thank you

New Post 5/28/2019 8:22 AM
User is offline Stewart F
119 posts
7th Level Poster

Re: Techniques and Methods for Managing Project Portfolio 

This all depends on how your company works. Every company is different, so you may need to modify this a little to suite you and your company. A couple of notes:

>I currently undertake this as a part of my role as BA Manager, so this is current and works.

>My company is middle sized and has quite a strong belief in project methodology, without it being over powering. We use a variant of Agile, albeit, like all companies, is tailored to our needs. This process is much the same.

There are some pre-requisites:

Project Sponsors

It is key that you have project Sponsors – they are ultimately in charge of the project and they may well be the holder of the purse strings for that project. They will act as the projects ‘voice’ and will be responsible for its welfare. They will probably be a manager of some sort. They MUST be able to commit at least 50 % of their day to their project – otherwise it is pointless them being a Project Sponsor. The Sponsor, with or without the PM, will have written a Project Brief.

Meetings & Buy In From Stakeholders

The Stakeholders are all those that use the Process. It is imperative that everyone is aware of and agrees to the process rules. If not, the whole thing will collapse. I always say – If in doubt, come and speck to me. Always make yourself available for the process and ensuring it is adhered to. That way, people will not try to abuse it.


So to your questions:

#2 What spreadsheets templates are best?

There are many spreadsheets out there but it is hard to recommend just one. As I have said, every company is different. If you want to use them, (I don’t personally as I prefer to make my own that are 100% relevant to me) just look through the Net. However, they are actually quite easy to make yourself. Read on and you should get an idea of what you need.

#4 What certifications do I get?

On the basis that you say the role is temporary I wouldn’t bother. If it is an area, you are thinking of moving to be aware that companies include this section in different ways. It is more a Project Manager role than a BA one, and more a Head Of Projects, than a PM one. So you may find it hard to actually find a role specifically just for this.

Also, much of this sub-role is just common sense and good practice. Something that a BA should have anyway. You don’t need special skills, apart from negotiation maybe.


#1,3 and 5 – How Do I do Portfolio Management

The process works through a series of meetings. The meetings go in order to:

a.       Understand & Raise

b.       Prioritise & inform

c.       Lastly Allocate Resource.


Understand & Raise

The first meeting ‘Understand & Raise’, is an open meeting to all Project Sponsors – either for new projects or existing ones.

The meeting is in two halves. The first half goes through new projects.  Sponsors submit their Project Brief and give a quick outline of what it is they wish to do. I allocate a tag to the Project – Regulatory, Process Improvement, New Product or Change. This gives me an idea of what type of project it is. This is agreed with the Sponsor, and they also suggests what Priority they believe it should be. Any key dates (for example, if it is a regulatory project, there may be a date is has to be in by) are also noted. These are added to a basic spreadsheet – nothing fancy, just something that I can read easily and that contains all of the information raised at this meeting.

The second half goes through existing projects to get a high-level status report. These Status updates are added to the spreadsheet, which will be used at the Board Meeting (see below).

If a project can be closed down (it may be complete or it may have been pulled for whatever reason) the Sponsor confirms this to me and the resource previously allocated is freed up.

Any new Project Briefs or changes to existing ones are forwarded on to the Head Of Testing and Head Of Development for them to review.

Prioritise & Inform

I then attend the monthly Board Meeting. The purpose of the Board meeting is three fold:

1.       To give the Board oversight of the Project Portfolio – keep it very brief, unless they ask for more detail, don’t offer it. Again, a simple spreadsheet colour coded to give a quick RAG status is fine.

2.       To gain the Board’s opinion on priority status. I get the Board to state what they believe the Priority order should be. They won’t be the final decision, but they form a valued opinion. To save them time, I state the current priority number on the colour coded spreadsheet mentioned before. Any new projects are noted with a suggested priority order value. This makes it easier for Board members to assign a priority to each project.

3.       Any significant over runs of projects, major problems or budget issues are raised here. It gives the Board to option of pulling a project if they think it isn’t going anywhere. Also, any priority project where no current resource is available is raised here. Typically, if I know this will be an issue I may bring the Head Ofs with me. Lastly, if a Sponsor wants to talk to the Board about their project, then this is the time available. Sponsors rarely do though.

Once the Board have given me their take on the Priority order, I publish this to the Sponsors. They are allowed 3 days in which to appeal.

Resource Allocation

The last meeting of the three is the Resource Allocation meeting.

This is attended by myself, the Head of Development and the Head Of Testing.

For this, I created an Excel spreadsheet. In column one, write the name of each Resource and their title (Developer, Tester etc.). In the next 52 narrow columns – one for each week of the year, represents a period of one week that resource is required for that project.

I then go through each project based on the current Priority order (Let’s assume we are starting from scratch here) and inform the two heads of department, what each project is, how long the Sponsor believes it will take and the desired start and end dates. They then allocate whom they think is required, both in terms of skillset and numbers (how many Devs. or Testers). They are blocked out for that period on the spreadsheet, so that they do not get double booked. Each block is colour coded to represent a different project.

Eventually you will start to run out of available resource. When this happens, you create a backlog of waiting projects. Each time we meet, we go through what the priority order is – it may change every couple of weeks, in which case a decision may need to be made to put one project on hold and start another. This is a decision which should not be made lightly, so if needs be, it should go up to Board level for the final say.

Any changes made to resource or if a Project is put on hold, is shared with the Project Sponsors.

Each meeting happens once a month.

The things most likely to be issues are non-attendees and those that try to jump the process. When I first set this all up, I made sure that every stakeholder involved in the process understood and agreed to the process. This is vital.

I also set up a committee made up of five members, two Board members, two Senior Managers and myself. If there are urgent exceptions, the Project Sponsor will put their case to us. Then with that Sponsor NOT in the room, we discuss and agree a course of action. I deliberately made it an odd number so that when voted upon (held in secret) the majority won without any drawn issues.


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