Agile in the Portfolio

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

In recent years, I have had several conversations around portfolio management and agile, but those discussions are usually about how portfolio management can effectively embrace agile projects as well as traditional or waterfall initiatives. However, a few weeks ago I had a conversation with someone about a different aspect of the topic—how agile concepts can enhance portfolio management as a discipline. This is an area where I think many organizations struggle—not so much in terms of implementation, but rather in terms of what an appropriate level of portfolio agility should be.

This is understandable—on the one hand, portfolio management should take a longer-term view of the business, managing to deliver business benefits over a period of quarters and years and through the lifecycle of many different projects; on the other hand, organizations are having to adapt and evolve more quickly than ever before in response to shifting demands by customers, challenges from competitors, and opportunities created by emerging technologies.

Trying to balance long-term management with a fast-evolving operating landscape requires an organization that can absorb change in a minimally disruptive way, and that means changing the traditional approach to management. In the absence of proven and reliable models that can be implemented “off the shelf,” challenges…

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