Aligning project and portfolio objectives with overall business goals may seem like a no-brainer. Inherent, almost, that projects you invest in are supporting your overall objectives. However, not all projects are created equal, and sometimes the best made plans are self destructive. In order to create a plan that truly factors in business goals and assure stakeholders that the projects you are putting your resources into are the best ones at the time you will need to fully vet the projects and prioritize based on desired outcomes. Because let’s face it, there is always request overage and resource shortage. Here are some guiding principles when setting out to create a portfolio plan that is aligned with your business objectives.
For a more investigative approach on getting your projects aligned with business goals, take a look at our on demand webinar, “The Road to Alignment” and discover the secrets to getting your portfolio on track.
Evaluate: Identify the projects that you are tasked with and evaluate them. All of them might not make it to the execution phase, but they can be taken into account, and either invested in or dismissed, depending on available capacity and project importance. Keep in mind that projects must be evaluated against others within the portfolio – just because a project is a good idea and supports business goals, it still might not be the best investment for the business at that time. There could be other more important projects or simply not enough resources to successfully execute the project.
Set the Criteria: You will need to define the criteria for selecting projects. By having this process in place, it makes it very simple to rule out lower value projects and identify the best projects to support your goals. By sticking to the criteria set in place, you will be on your way to making the biggest impact.
Score your Opportunities: Scoring can help identify projects with high value from an unbiased perspective. While some projects are obviously high priority, others may not be so clear. Creating a metric to score your requests can allow you to justify why a project will or will not be pursued.
Rank your Results: Don’t exceed your resources. Once you expire time, material, people and money, in the planning it is likely you will stop accepting projects. Be realistic and don’t over allocate resources and set your portfolio up for failure. Using realistic objectives and having a clear understanding of the constraints enables you to maximize your success. Creating a plan within these constraints enables you to make better decisions.
After going through the process of evaluation, setting criteria, scoring, and ranking results, you might still not have a fully actionable plan. Implementing a portfolio process into your project management office is no easy undertaking, it is sure to come with challenges. Be on the lookout for early identifiers of obstacles so you can counter quickly and diffuse complications before they get worse. A portfolio is most successful when it accounts for and surpasses as many predictable challenges as possible.
Clarity, agreement and commitment are all major challenges presented to even the most comprehensive PMOs. You can combat any clarity issues with having as much detail on process and strategy as possible, while remaining objective. Keep in mind this might also change as the portfolio evolves. Agreement is another element to portfolio alignment that is critical yet difficult to achieve. Stakeholders need to be supportive of the goals and undertand the objectives set forth in the plan. The last major challenge is commitment, and again essential to successful project execution. Team members need to commit to the plan and stay on track for the highest chance of success.
If incorporating these elements is not a large enough undertaking, the final thing to keep in mind is that the plan must be adaptable to change. It is unrealistic to think the business direction will not alter throughout the lifecycle of the portfolio and the plan will not veer off course. In order to be effective there has to be a dynamic plan that can change if there is good cause and the change is supported by all the stakeholders.
What is the best way to embrace changes and create a malleable plan? Join our upcoming webinar “Navigating Alignment: Drive forward and stay between the lines” with Mark Mullaly, President of InterThink Consulting, and a pioneer in the development of organizational project management capabilities. Mullaly will dive into how to keep your portfolio on track and stay aligned through the toughest organizational issues.
Register for the webinar on Wednesday, April 22 at 10am PDT and keep your portfolio headed in the right direction.