7 Portfolio Management Best Practices

Portfolio management is all about successful change. It’s digging deep, unearthing good ideas, and taking actions to move your organization in a positive new direction. Every bit of new information you discover as you mine your financial and other data helps you to more closely define your value streams and business epics.

With each discovery, you can refine your business strategy so that every project aligns with your strategic vision for the organization. It’s a long-term, often challenging task to undergo. To make the most of your efforts and time and money investment, keep these best practices for portfolio management in mind:

1.  Clarify the end game

Leaders at the highest level within the organization must set priorities, outline their business concerns and establish goals based on the very specific needs of the organization. They should play a key role in deciding which metrics to measure and pain points to analyze.

It’s that leadership vision that establishes the framework for making changes that will allow the organization to reach operational and financial goals. Without it, your decisions can be arbitrary and misguided.


2.  Adopt new technologies to compile data

Chances are you will have to weed through plenty of imperfect data about your business operations. It’s also likely that it will be scattered across spreadsheets and other documents and stored in various formats in different locations. While you will need to work with what you’ve got—and certainly you want to use any data you have—it’s ideal that you have access to complete data that has been collected by an established technology infrastructure. If you haven’t made that move yet, now may be the time.

For example, with Tempo Folio, you can track all costs and revenue by project in real-time, view cross-project value streams, and roll up data on the portfolio level to better identify which projects are generating value, which are running at a loss, whether projects are being completed on time, and whether teams and team members have been over-allocated.

That is insight you just can’t gain by shuffling through spreadsheet after spreadsheet of financial data.

Portfolio management should not eat up so much time that the process is no longer beneficial to the organization. That’s why automation is so critical to ensuring an effective process that is worthy of your time.

3.  Understand what you do well

Too many organizations start the portfolio management process bent on finding problems. However, it’s best to start the process by understanding the resources you have available, the skill sets of your employees and the best practices your organization has in place.

In most cases, you don’t have to make widespread change or overhaul your entire business model. Work with and expand on the positives you already have in place.


4.  Capture ideas from everyone

Your team members are the best source for ideas about how to improve processes and overall operations. They know what problems you’re facing and the mistakes that are costing you money and customers. That said, they are in their own little world, focused on doing their job, and they may not ever share that knowledge with you.

Figure out a way to capture their ideas, whether you do that through regular meetings, company surveys or the good old-fashioned suggestion box.

5.  Gain buy-in with transparency

You want to be completely open with all stakeholders about the problems you see and the changes you want to implement. And that essentially means sharing the data you collect with them. For example, let’s say you discover that you are paying entirely too much overtime on an organizational level. You might receive pushback from project leaders if you simply point fingers about overtime abuse and demand changes.

However, with a detailed report, like the one you can create using Tempo Timesheets, you can see your organization’s time utilization and provide detailed evidence to stakeholders about how their time is being used or misused. That proof allows you to build a better case for making changes.

Communicating frequently and sharing information are the keys to gaining support from the people you need to execute changes and new ideas. Adopting a web-based strategy for sharing your project and portfolio documents is your best bet for doing that.


6.  Move to proactive—rather than reactive—decision making

At times you are going to need to make quick decisions to resolve an issue that is hurting the bottom line. However, you don’t want to have to rely on your gut to make those critical decisions. Having the data at your fingertips allows you to act quickly while still making well-informed decisions that won’t come back to haunt you.

More important, perhaps, is that the data offers you insight into recurring issues and problematic patterns, so that you can proactively address them before you lose another dime.

7.  Shed dead weight quickly

Allowing underperforming projects to persist can destroy your productivity and bottom line. Those projects eat up resources and steal time and focus away from those projects that have real potential. You must kill those projects that will never live up to expectations—and do so quickly.

That’s why it is imperative that you have the ability to monitor all your projects in real-time at a high level and that you have the data to back up all your decisions.

Learn how Tempo for Atlassian's JIRA can arm you with all the information you need to make strategic decisions that ensure your organization hits its performance, operational, and financial goals, and deliver long-term value to your customers.

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