The project portfolio annual plan cycle is over, the budget has been approved, projects are being implemented. In short, 2020 has started and the question arises: how do you make sure that the plan is implemented as planned? How do you keep an overview, where do you get your information from and how do you manage it to bring it alive? Or, how do you make sure you adjust your plan on time if there are new developments that require change of course?

Perfect execution of the wrong projects …

In the past decade there has been a big focus project management: how to ensure that a project is implemented properly. However, there was very limited attention for the selection and implementation of the right projects. Nice that a lot has been invested in project management methodologies (and that is definitely needed), but how painful is it when it turns out that wrong projects were implemented? It makes much more sense to first make sure management selects the  best set of projects than making sure that the wrong projects are carried flawlessly?

The overview is missing

Even in organizations that work with specialized project management applications, the overview is not always centrally available. The reason is often because of the different types of projects. Smaller projects are sometimes organised ad hoc and not recorded anywhere. Other projects are agile and “because they are agile” are not sufficiently structured. Other projects are followed up in Excel, Sharepoint or a specific project management application. But all projects centrally available? That remains a utopia for many organizations. And that has to be change.

Invest in central information

Project portfolio management is unfortunately still underexposed, though it is the answer to be able to follow the portfolio plan properly. A good project portfolio management process ensures that the right choices are made. It also provides insight into the running project portfolio to manage it well. This requires central information. All projects, large or small, agile or waterfall should be known in one system. A central location where the projects are listed  and have the basic project information available. And to be clear, that does not have to be a project management application.

No micro management please

What is needed is information about which projects are running, what stage they are in, what the high level planning is, how progress is and whether there are issues to address. However, this does not have to be at the lowest level of detail. A monthly status report that every project manager can complete in 10 minutes is sufficient for the portfolio follow-up. It is about having the relevant data available. Do you really need detailed project planning for all individual projects? Is insight into the written hours crucial for managing your portfolio? No. Focus on what you need and make sure that data is entered centrally.

Involve the project managers

Central information requires discipline. However, if you want to implement the annual plan as planned, you will have to centralize this information. Involve your project managers to make this happen. Make sure they update their project every month in the central application. Agree on what they need to update.

A minimum will be the status report so that the portfolio manager can monitor whether there are concerns. But above all, keep it manageable. Again, focus on the information that is important to manage the project portfolio(s).

Jump!

Whether you get started with project portfolio management is no longer the question but when. Do you want to successfully execute the annual plan? Invest in a central application and set up a simple project portfolio management process to get started. Start creating the overview and work from there to gradually professionalize the ppm process.

About bizztracker

Bizztracker supports in understanding and managing your project portfolio to transform strategy in business success. We offer functionality that can be tailored to your specific needs. For the operational management of the project portfolio you will find portfolio overviews that provide insight into the projects, status and progress. As a niche player we focus on what you need to manage the project portfolio (s). Interested? We are happy to help you.

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