How does an organisation of any significant size begin to put its arms around all the changes that are happening within it? How can it begin to ensure these changes - its projects and programmes - are all moving the organisation in the right direction strategically?
Senior managers facing such challenges also know they will have to make tough choices. There is never enough time or money to do everything on the enterprise wish list. Some projects need to be canned or put on hold. But which ones? Some of these projects depend on others.
Also, how does the organisation make sure that the changes are approved, are done in a way and at a time that does not do injury to operations?
Such is the subject of Management of Portfolios (MoP), the latest guidance from OGC, the UK Government body that has brought us PRINCE2 project management, MSP programme management, P3O and other Best Management Practice guidance. MoP is now available as a qualification and, of course, pearcemayfield will be offering it.
I was interested to receive my copy of the new book only yesterday, the last day of a P3O course, were the delegates and I were more than a little interested in whether it is consistent with the P3O guidance.
Well, it broadly is.
My first impression is that it is good and takes us further in agreeing what senior managers should already be doing in larger organisations, whether they give it the title of 'Portfolio Management' or not.
After listing five key principles the book begins to set out a clear cyclical process.
Then it takes a somewhat disconcerting turn - not of content but of presentation.
My problem is with some of the techniques. My first reaction to some of the techniques for prioritising initiatives were, whilst being suitably sophisticated, they came over as very complex. I think this might deter many a senior manager from going further.
As we know from Management Dashboards these days, senior management needs rolled-up summaries, perhaps with supporting text, perhaps with the ability to drill down to offending detail from what they see. But some of the treatment in the Guide seems to dive down to such an extent that it would incline many a legitimate senior reader simply to give up.
I feel that much of the content of this first edition is the rightful province of the Portfolio Analyst, the professional who sets out the choices for these senior decision-makers.
It is purely an issue of presentation, but nevertheless an important one. The management of portfolios is an emergent area and it needs selling to senior management teams many large organisations. Reading this cold could put them off, IMHO.