Perennial Problems with Project Portfolios
Updated: Jul 13, 2019
Over 15 years ago, Gerald Kendall and Steven Rollins wrote a book called, “Advanced Project Portfolio Management and the PMO – Multiplying ROI at
Warp Speed” in which they noted four universal problems in project portfolio:
1. “Too many active projects (often double what an organization should have)
2. Wrong projects (projects that will not provide value to the organization)
3. Projects not linked to strategic goals
4. Unbalanced portfolio
a) Too much on the supply side, not enough on the market side
b) Too much development, not enough research
c) Too much short term, not enough long term
d) Not reflective of the organization’s most important assets, strategic resource value,
or major product revenue opportunities…”
These problems are not new – they existed when the book was written and in my experience they are still common. They are the result of flawed decision-making by the governance team.
If your project portfolio includes any (or all) of these four problems, it’s time to have a serious conversation with your governance team to clarify the definitions of value and strategic alignment and apply those definitions rigorously to the project intake and review processes.
Additionally, the governance team needs a visual reminder of how many projects are in process. Something as simple as a kan-ban board may be sufficient to remind the governance team to "stop starting and start finishing" projects.