Portfolios and the Strategy to Action Life Cycle
As a project manager, you lead the organization towards innovative thinking about how to realistically meet strategic objectives. Through managing people and projects, you have a vast array of knowledge of the organization, business practices, organizational culture, power players and influential people. Most importantly, you know where the bottlenecks are in the many business processes at work. You know the people who enable and those who do not. You are among the most valuable assets at your company because you know how to get things done.
Having all of this knowledge and experience, how can you become a major contributor to corporate strategy development and project alignment? Take all of that knowledge and use it to think and act like a strategic enabler and solution partner.
Portfolio management requires both business managers and solution partners working together to align, plan and manage a “strategy to action life cycle” for new and legacy corporate initiatives. This collaboration encourages critical thinking to discover how to use your social and political capital to strengthen corporate strategies.
- Portfolios help organize and prioritize project investments. If you are familiar with Agile practices, a Product Backlog can be compared to a portfolio. As Product Owners and customers examine the business value of product features and prioritize each feature in the Product Backlog based on value and risk, business managers and solution partners examine the business value of proposed projects and prioritize each project in the portfolio based on value and risk. This guides companies to make decisions about project and resource investments.
- Portfolios help inspire innovation to reduce cost. Examining the business value of legacy technologies and business processes helps identify areas of improvement or replacement as some elements may no longer support business strategy or may be too costly to sustain. The goal here is to reduce the number of elements that have low business impact. Technology retirement or replacement may lead to new, smarter technologies that enable corporations to achieve business goals smarter and faster.
An influential PMO can and should impact business decisions about projects. When opportunity to reduce cost or improve business value is present, members of the PMO should be at the forefront when business leaders ask what the best alternatives are. The “strategy to action life cycle” is a continuous process with direct participation and influential input from project managers strategically poised to add the most value. You don’t need to hire a portfolio manager to manage a portfolio. Project Managers can lead strategy to action management activities using portfolios and this critical contribution can increase the value of your PMO.