Project Management

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A blog that looks at all aspects of project and program finances from budgets, estimating and accounting to getting a pay rise and managing contracts. Written by Elizabeth Harrin from RebelsGuideToPM.com.

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Spring clean your portfolio: Setting clear priorities and roadmapping

Spring clean your portfolio: Resource management

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Spring clean your portfolio: Setting clear priorities and roadmapping

Earlier this month I looked at spring cleaning your portfolio to check for strategic fit and also to ensure resources were being managed appropriately.

Now it’s time for step 3 of my decluttering plan: setting clear priorities. You can’t keep everything tidy if you don’t have a plan for how to manage the space going forward. Otherwise, the clutter starts to build up again (looking at you, cupboard under the stairs).

It’s really important to set clear priorities for the remaining projects in the portfolio (the ones you haven’t swept away with the clean sweep brush) and develop a roadmap for execution that aligns with organisational goals.

You probably already have a strategic, portfolio roadmap, and if you haven’t reviewed that yet, it’s worth it, so you’re starting this section of the year with a fresh slate and clarity about where everyone is going.

Focus on high-impact initiatives

Scan through the portfolio and make sure projects are prioritised appropriately. Use scoring models and an alignment matrix, or whatever prioritisation model you have agreed with your stakeholders, to ensure everyone is focused on the high-impact initiatives. Typically, these are the ones which are relatively straightforward to deliver and have high benefits. You might use a PICK chart (let me know if you want me to write about PICK in a future article, it’s quite a useful tool to Google if you don’t already use it) or something similar to pull out the projects where it’s worth investing your time and resources.

Remember, even if you did this exercise a while ago, things might have changed. The business context is different now to how it was even 3 months ago, so it’s worth keeping prioritisation under review.

Create (or refresh) your roadmap

If you already have a roadmap, pull it up and check that the key milestones and timelines are still valid. Adjust as necessary, being as flexible as you need to be and flag anything that needs approval before it is updated. For example, you may have internal rules about the number of projects that can go live at any one time in an area and now the portfolio plan shows that guidance would be broken with the current timescales. Discuss internally and update so that you’re not overloading any single area with too much change at once.

Engage stakeholders

Finally – although this is something you’ll be doing throughout the spring cleaning process – check in with key stakeholders. They should be aligned and supportive of project prioritisation, both the process for assessing priorities and the final outcome of the prioritised list.

Hopefully, getting buy in is straightforward, because you’ve aligned priorities to the strategic plan and everyone can see that this roadmap is the best approach to making sure all the projects get the organisation closer to delivering on the overall objectives.

When all that is done, you can put down your dustpan and brush. The old stuff has been swept away and the portfolio is looking clean and refreshed. After your spring cleaning I think you deserve a well-earned rest!

portfolio management

Posted on: May 14, 2024 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Spring clean your portfolio: Resource management

Earlier this month I looked at a spring cleaning plan for sprucing up your portfolio and giving the live projects a bit of a health check. This doesn’t have to take long, but if spring is in the air where you are, it’s the perfect time to reassure yourself and stakeholders that everything is in order.

Last time we reviewed the portfolio in a general sense to check for alignment and relevance. Today, we’re talking about resource optimisation and reallocation, which is Step 2 (step 3 is setting priorities and a future plan – we’ll talk about that next time).

In this step, I’d encourage you to explore strategies for optimising resource allocation to ensure that key projects have the necessary support, while eliminating waste and inefficiencies. And that doesn’t mean we’re spring cleaning the workforce – this isn’t about layoffs or making roles redundant.

resource management

Review underutilised resources

Check in with your resource managers or team leaders and find out if there are any colleagues who are underutilised. This shows up in two ways:

  1. they might not be working at full capacity as they haven’t been assigned enough work
  2. they might be working on tasks that are not a suitable level for their expertise.

In my experience, we don’t often find people who have free time or are on the bench without good reason. Work expands to fill the time, so you might not find anyone sitting around waiting for work to be assigned to them. Make sure people are working on the right tasks and not filling up their time with smaller, less priority projects or team process improvements and things that aren’t helping the portfolio move closer to the strategic goals.

Then, check in with managers about their team members who have been assigned work that really isn’t a good use of their skills. I’m thinking of people who are doing tasks that are below their skill level, often because there aren’t any junior people available. If that looks like it is the case for your teams, see whether there are options to move work around so people with the right skill level are working on appropriate things. This can really help team morale as well as skill up some valuable resources for the future.

Check your tools

Next, check your resource management tools. Is that spreadsheet still doing it for you? Is it time to invest the effort into setting up resource profiles in the tools you already have?

Software can help with resource management, planning, forecasting and decision making, so if you don’t have anything suitable, maybe now you’ve reached a level of maturity across the portfolio where you could put together a case for investment.

Look at upcoming resource needs

Finally, take a look at projects in the pipeline. We’ve cleaned up what’s gone before, but part of spring cleaning is also making space for the new.

Look at what work is coming up and whether resources are available and have the right skills to be able to tackle new opportunities that arise. That might mean spending some time identifying what skills need to be trained in to the current teams or recruited in, or making decisions about contractors joining the team if necessary.

With this step about resource management, what you’re trying to do is identify resources and make sure they are working on appropriate projects – shifting key resources to areas of higher priority or need as appropriate, while taking future needs into account.

Next time I’ll look at some ways that clear priorities can help with your portfolio spring cleaning. See you soon!

Posted on: May 07, 2024 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Spring clean your portfolio: Portfolio review

Here is the Northern Hemisphere it really feels like spring has sprung. Evenings are lighter, there is less rain (and while the garden won’t thank me for saying it – we had a soggy start to the year so this is something I’m really pleased about) and I don’t know about you but I’m feeling like I’ve got renewed energy for a spring clean. It truly is the season of starting fresh.

That goes for project portfolios too. If you haven’t looked at the work you’re doing across the organisation, across your department, or even simply your personal workload, then now is a good time to take stock of what’s still outstanding and what (maybe) is no longer relevant.

Are you ready to spring clean your portfolio? The way I’ve been thinking about this is in 3 steps. First, we assess and rationalise, which I’ll talk about in this article. Then we review resource optimisation and reallocate where necessary. Finally, we set clear priorities and a roadmap to take us through the rest of the seasons until it’s time to review again.

Step 1 is decluttering – you might have already done some spring cleaning at home, and now is the time to do the same for your work! So let’s share some strategies for renewal and realignment.

Review the current portfolio

First, take a look at the current project portfolio. Make sure your list of projects is up to date, and that it’s complete. There shouldn’t be any projects that have snuck on to the list without the proper approvals, but if there are, add them formally.

Check the basics for each project: they have formal approvals, there is an assigned project manager, they are hitting their governance milestones or anything else that is the normal for your portfolio.

Identify performance issues and misalignments

Next, identify performance issues, overlaps where several projects are tackling the same thing, and any misalignments with strategic goals. Make sure reporting is up to date and source new reports if they are not. Look for milestones that have been missed or risks that are not managed. When was the last time there was a peer review or an audit? Check that each project still meets its financial objectives and is still viable, with a business case that has been recently reviewed and a benefits case that still makes sense.

Review the ‘go’ criteria

Refresh your criteria for project assessment. Remind yourself of how decisions are taken about pausing, continuing or terminating projects. Do you need to update any criteria or measures around financial performance tracking? Perhaps there are new metrics to include.

Review how resources are allocated to live projects and check everything on the list is a good fit strategically. You might not end up changing any of your criteria or measures, but it’s still worth the effort to run through them and check they are still fit for purpose.

Involve your stakeholders

Finally for this step, talk to stakeholders so you can build in their perception of project value and potential. Are there any projects that sponsors have fallen out of love with? If so, these could be taken off the list and the resources reassigned to projects that will add more value.

Next time, I’ll look at step 2 in your spring cleaning plan, which is dealing with resource optimisation.

portfolio review

Posted on: May 01, 2024 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
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Very funny, Scotty. Now beam down my clothes.

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