What are the keys to successful portfolio project management

Project Portfolio Management is not just about managing projects or running these simultaneously, it goes beyond that. PPM is capable of changing or evolving any business and taking it to another level allowing companies to be better, faster and stronger.

The results start to show nearly since its implementation and extend to long-term.

In case you don’t know yet what a Project Portfolio Management tool is, in summary, it is a mix of a system of tools, processes and methodologies that help your company react to change with the necessary speed to succeed.

This tool not only deals with the project selection process or running different projects at the same time, it also centralizes all projects and procedures giving everyone involved full visibility all the way through the process. It also helps planning and scheduling giving companies enough information for a solid based decision making.

Contrary to what many may think it’s not just a tool for managers, it’s a tool for everyone involved in each project providing all the necessary information in real-time which makes everything more effective.

Project effectiveness enables the ability to develop new products, improves the capacity to deliver the existing ones too. On the other hand it also enhances the firm’s functioning, productivity, reduces time consumption and costs.

The fact that it is a necessary tool to any modern business that wishes to progress is undeniable, nevertheless you must not lose sight of the goals, project purpose and most important business vision.

There are necessary things or components to have in mind when implementing a project portfolio management and the better prepared you are for it the quicker you’ll start seeing results.

Like any other tool when implementing the adequate training is required and establishing common procedures and applications is highly recommended too.

With the above in mind, there are 3 key elements that make a significant difference when working with a PPM tool and that its awareness and well execution will positively impact the results:


  • Project choice

Don’t lose track of your company goals and always have in mind the organizational capabilities and capacities.

You should be choosing projects that match your targets and are tangible. For this you will need a solid decision method and apply it often as project overload is not recommended at all.

The best way to start is probably by doing a project inventory.

A project by itself is surrounded by a lot of different and very relevant information and therefore when inventorying you will have to analyze things like goals, dates/time, resources, risks (example: high-medium-low), expected returns, etc.

After, to keep everything organized, you should score and categorize the projects. Again leave personal feelings aside, focus on the firm’s needs and the resources available. Also be sensible with the targets set by keeping them real.

Don’t take any shortcuts. You will spend as much time finding shortcuts as you will getting the job done so, just get the job done.

With this task completed you will have a wide and clear overview over the projects. With this you can start listing what you’ve inventoried including the scores or the cost forecast.

Once listed you will have enough information to “draw a line” where your budget can reach. The project above the line are ready to be started or continued. The projects below the line can remain in reserve and taken in consideration later on or discarded if they are too risky or have a high development cost.


  • Resources

Resources are limited and finding the best way to fulfill the company’s needs is often a rather challenging task. Despite that, using the right resources in the right place can be the simple difference between success or failure.

Project portfolio management, as previously said, gives you a wide view over the projects and its status. This visibility is a huge advantage for companies as it gives you enough information for a proper decision making allowing you to allocate resources correctly. Not only that, it enables you to move the resources to the project in need by ranking or prioritizing projects.

To successfully use PPM it’s essential you know well the teams involved in the projects.The better you know the people, their qualities and their flaws, the better you’ll know how to use their full capacities.

You don’t need anything special to make it work, simply have enough resource information, competencies, roles and very important, where the resource is allocated and for how long.

Using your resources right is crucial to achieve the goals successfully. For this once you have the above clear you can start inventorying your Total Resource Capacity (TRC) and from each resource you need to establish their Project Allocated Capacity (PAC). With these two data you can find out the Total Available Capacity (TAC) by calculating: TAC = TRC – PAC.

Do this over time for both resources and roles so you know what capacity are you currently using and what you have available or can support.


  • Project info

You can’t conceive using Project Portfolio Management without thinking about information sharing.

It’s a key factor for a successful use of the tool, having the information clear and easily accessible makes work flow better and faster.

It’s important you have common procedures and make sure all the information needed is available so the teams can work autonomously.

This will only push your projects forward as it saves a considerable amount of time that is normally wasted in the search for info.

Using PPM right you are able to share or communicate throughout the project lifespan anything from risks to decisions or actions reaching everyone involved both horizontally and vertically leaving no space nor need to single communication.

Implementing PPM will undoubtedly change your company for better in different ways and the above 3 components are to be managed alongside with the company’s strategy and values.

This change needs to be managed at all company levels and to successfully use PPM you will need everybody to be involved.