Should You Implement a Portfolio Management Tool?

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Should You Implement a Portfolio Management Tool?



By Wanda Curlee

What is the state of portfolio management technology?

That, of course, is a loaded question. Many factors—including the company and the industry—come into play. Nevertheless, most will agree that the tools of portfolio management have progressed.

While portfolio management can still technically be done with spreadsheets, it’s a labor-intensive approach that doesn’t make sense for every organization. So, if you’re ready to upgrade your spreadsheets, how do you know what tool is right for you?

If your organization lacks the expertise, you may need to hire a consultant to help. A consultant can assess the situation and determine the most effective approach to follow. It might be as simple as creating spreadsheets that need to be completed and analyzed differently, or as complex as implementing a new customized tool.

Whether you hire a consultant or not, picking the right portfolio management tool for your organization is a project. And there are many moving parts.

1. Create a wants and needs—or requirements—list. As many of you are already well aware, this is a wish list and there is probably no tool that will meet the full list. The requirements need to be ranked and maybe even weighted to provide a true assessment among tools. One tool may provide only one highly sought requirement but many less-desired requirements. On the other hand, another tool may provide multiple highly sought requirements but no less-desired requirements.

The weighted average can help those make a case for one tool over another. Those making the recommendation should be different from the final decision maker.

2. Customize the tool. The customization should not be done with rose-colored glasses. There should be a pilot program to see if the requirements are producing the results expected or if tweaking is required.

3. Begin implementation. Since this is a portfolio, I would recommend the big-bang approach. That means all projects and programs within the portfolio must be loaded. They need to be analyzed to ensure that the correct information is inputted. The project and program managers need to be trained to understand what is needed on the new tool. Remember, most portfolio tools also work for some (or extensive) project and program management.

Team members working in the portfolio need to be trained as well. Those producing reports and what-ifs must understand how the tool does these things correctly. Without understanding the tool, results may be less than adequate.

4. Compare the before and after state. Once the tool is implemented, the portfolio manager should run a couple tests to see if the previous state and the new tool produce similar, if not exact, results. If not, then there is an issue that needs to be resolved. It may be an easy fix, but more than likely there will need to be some analysis done.

Remember: A tool is not a silver bullet. However, if you have a large portfolio, a tool might be necessary. But don’t expect miracles. You will still have to do the value-add!

 

Posted by Wanda Curlee on: September 27, 2018 04:24 PM | Permalink

Comments (25)

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Selection of the right portfolio management tool will help an organization to reap multiple benefits.

Hello Alok - Thanks for reading the blog.

Hello Damian - Many think that all portfolio management tools are essentially the same. Alas this is not true.

Wanda, Thanks for sharing

You highlight an important item - that an organization's needs should drive the tool, not the other way around. Too often, the effort of looking for toolage turns into an exercise of 'chasing butterflies', overlooking the importance of first looking internally at what the specific needs are and in conjunction with the direction of the organization, i.e. a move toward cloud options over on-premise.

We recently implemented such a tool and have realized benefits not originally thought of. Your summary comment ou s spot on - the value add is how you choose to use the tool, not the tool itself!

Very interesting article, thanks for sharing

Hello Andrew - Thank you for the comments. Yes, too many organizations chase butterflies.

Hello Perry - It is great that you encountered benefits you had not thought of. Thanks for the comment.

Eduin - Thanks for your comment.

Great Points Wanda ... Very Interesting.

Great guide on portfolio management tool.
Thanks for sharing, Wanda.

Before doing anything the capability of the organisation should be assessed. So should the people that are to run the system on behalf of the org. Portfolio management requires a more strategic and business management focus. If those exist then your approach can follow.

Rami - Thank you

Pang - Thank you

Iain - I agree. Your latest book aptly describes what an organization should have prior to a tool implementation.

Thanks for sharing!

I would also recommend that people trial the tool(s) before committing to purchase. It can be quite easy to get access to trial versions of some software tools. We set up a trial version of MS Project Server 2016 and it helped us a lot in terms of assessing usability and also informing requirements. If you have not used a tool before then requirements gathering can be a bit like an upside down iceberg. You think that you have captured them all but there is still a small amount that remains undetected.

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