Culling projects: A critical portfolio process

With most organisations reporting more projects that they can resource, stopping projects which are addressing yesterday’s problems may be even more important than not starting those projects designed to address today’s.

In a review of 15 client portfolios, the UK project consultancy group, CITI reported that in annual portfolio prioritisation more than one-third of the projects and programmes approved were carried forwarded from previous years, with 20% having survived two annual review processes.  The question perhaps to ask is – does this reflect a real need for long-term projects or is it that management decision making around stopping something is just so much harder than approving a project to start?

Significant portfolio management attention has been paid over the last few years to developing improved governance processes around the front-end selection and prioritisation of projects.  But portfolio monitoring and control is a much greyer area and often confusion arises between the governance responsibilities at the portfolio and project sponsorship levels.

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Want more pace in your projects? Governance is the key

Increasing the pace of delivery of projects takes a lot more than just working faster.  For most projects the biggest time-thief is decision-making.  It’s not the effort, it’s the elapsed time it takes to appraise the various stakeholders of the issue, get a consensus and then transmit their response to the project. If you really want to increase pace of delivery, then it is the elapsed time-stealers that have to be streamlined… and of these, the most important? Governance.

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The myths of stakeholder management

Project stakeholder management has borrowed many of its concepts from other discipline areas. This cross-usage of wisdom is helpful but its application in projects is still to be proven and bedded-in to the way we do things.  After all, it’s only in the last few years that stakeholder management has been recognised in project management bodies of knowledge.  In the meantime trial and error application has resulted in a number of myths about its application to projects.

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Going solo: The project management way!

Last year I watched my daughter make her first solo flight in a light aircraft.  That means she took off in an airplane on her own, and landed it. She was just 16 and had ten hours training.  The first I knew it was happening was when the instructor said quietly to me,  “You might want to stay around to watch this lesson!”.

Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash

If you haven’t experienced going solo in a airplane, this is pretty much how it works. After you’ve made three perfect landings in a row, the instructor casually remarks: “Not bad, why don’t you do the next three circuits on your own?”  They then climb out of the airplane leaving you alone with the engine running and ready to go.  At that moment the airplane seems tremendously quiet, the right-hand seat looks tremendously empty and the runaway looks tremendously short!

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