Project Portfolio Prioritization

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

Nothing taught me more about the risks associated taking an enterprise view with regard to prioritizing project portfolios than my experiences in opening new hotel/casino properties. In many ways, starting a new Project Portfolio Office (creating a basket of new initiatives, assessing their various risk components, establishing their relative sequence of implementation, etc.) is easier than inheriting a PPO that is already in process. However, the risk assessment process is essentially the same. Assessing risk of project delays and failures on the PPO basket of projects, at a minimum, should consider the following six areas:

  1. Project Interdependencies
  2. Financial & Human Capital Scarcity
  3. Project Complexities
  4. Ability of Organization to Absorb Change
  5. Environmental & Seasonal Considerations
  6. Cultural & Political Considerations

In general, when thinking of the above items in terms of risk analysis and management, I ask myself, “Where can each of these areas bite the organization in the butt?” (both at the project and the portfolio levels). Then, for each “butt biting” possibility, strategies need to be formulated in the following three areas:            

  • Risk Avoidance – designing safeguards and fail-safes into each project plan to …

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