Project Management

Balancing the Portfolio

Tom Mochal

Tom Mochal, PgMP, PMP, TSPM is the president of TenStep, Inc., a methodology development, consulting and training company. Tom won the Distinguished Contribution Award from the Project Management Institute for his work spreading knowledge of project management around the world. He is a speaker, lecturer, instructor and consultant to companies and organizations around the world.

Some organizations spend too much money on internal projects and fail to drive revenue; some play it safe with too many low-risk, low-reward projects; and others focus mainly on strategic projects, neglecting short-term tactical needs. The use of balance points can better optimize the portfolio.

The model for work portfolios is based on the model of the financial portfolio. An important concept in our financial portfolio is balancing our assets. Balancing allows us to spread our financial risks. For example, as a general rule you do not want to put all of your money into one stock. You also don't want to put all of your money into one stock sector. Many people that put all of their money into high-tech, for instance, were burned badly in the early years of this decade. Instead, you might split your investments between individual stocks, stock funds, bond funds, real estate, and so on.

Just as your financial portfolio is balanced, your work portfolio should be balanced as well. When you read about portfolio balancing, almost all of the literature is focused on balancing risk. For example, you can balance the percentage of projects that you approve based on whether the project is high, medium or low risk. It is true that you probably don’t want to approve too many high-risk projects. But it is also true that high-risk projects have high rewards. (If a high-risk …

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