Project Portfolio Management: A Practical Process

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.

Most of us in the world of project management are acquainted with the concept of project portfolio management, but how many of us really understand exactly what PPM managers actually do? What processes do they follow?

In researching PPM processes, I found many models that depict it. While similar, they are also different; most of which were esoteric and overly complex (some more than others). To my surprise, when drilling down into the specifics of these models, there was little if any actual information of the tasks and actions PPM managers actually perform. So, not to be daunted by the lack of substantive information, I decided to share my understanding of what a PPM manager does throughout the PPM continuum in a simple and easy-to-digest manner.

To begin, I drew upon a PPM article I penned back in October 2012 entitled “Project Portfolio Management: Back to Basics” where I shared a very simple model as a starting point for understanding the PPM process. Per this model, the majority of a PPM manager’s activities can be broken down into three major categories

  1. Pre-portfolio
  2. Active portfolio
  3. Post-portfolio

As indicated by the above model, the PPM process is a dynamic continuum as new projects stream and feed the process.

Based on these categories, the following high-level PPM activity lifecycle was developed. The below model consists…

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