What are the first steps Project Office, PMO, or the owner of a portfolio has to take to deliver portfolio information into the agenda of the Management Group? How to bring the portfolio to the core of strategic discussion and make each member of the Management Group interested in it? What triggers the Senior Management to focus on the Portfolio?

We all seek the commitment from the top management, continuous discussion between portfolio owner and management as well as link to strategy and evaluation of effectiveness. How this can be achieved and how to start on a concrete path?

A step-by-step introduction to four primary focus areas you should look at when improving the Portfolio Management process:

Step 1: Objectives and Organisation

Let’s start with the basics. At times, it is good to review the basic information in the portfolio, selection lists maintained by portfolio administrators, organisation information and even make sure that the list of users is up to date. You might want to consider user integration from your Active Directory. Some of this basic content is certainly reviewed in connection with the larger changes in the organization. But it is good to take a comprehensive checklist, a yearly clean-up and pre-scheduled checkpoints into use. It improves the maintenance and usability of the portfolio, as well as reporting. The Senior Management must be able to see the status corresponding the current objectives.

Step 2: Contents of the Portfolio

After ensuring the users have the latest objectives and selection lists available, it is time to check the contents of the Portfolio. The usability of the Portfolio is considerably improved by archiving all the closed projects from the Portfolio. The projects which are being monitored are reported separately, and all information related to development items is up to date. The work is not very gratifying, but it is certainly easier, if the step 1 has been carried out first. It is worthwhile to remind the team that by keeping the Portfolio updated, one validates the continuity of the particular development work.

Step 3: Reports and Reporting

There may be too many reports, and some of them may have inadequate content, or there is a lack of understanding on how to use them. From the perspective of a Management Group, their key concern is to have a relevant senior management level portfolio report and a clear overall view of the current status of development initiatives. It is often overlooked that the contents needed in reports change, for example, in connection with the changes in the organisation, and that should be taken into consideration when key individuals change. Going through and updating all the reports may be a bigger issue, but that is something that needs to be examined at least annually.

Step 3: Forums and Responsibilities

Good Portfolio Management is ensured when each piece of information and report in the portfolio has its designated audience, users and purpose. The Management Group likely examines the overall view at the Portfolio level. However, the project, service and portfolio managers, as well as Steering Groups of projects and programs should be trained to use the Portfolio and to understand how others are using it.
The questions asked in different forums based on the Portfolio information can serve as a very good introduction to the topics at hand. It is important for each user to understand that the project or service information is not updated for Portfolio or PMO, but the information is in fact used to guide the operations of an organisation.

More Information


Esa Toivonen

Managing Partner, Senior Portfolio Advisor
Tel. +358 40 733 6670