This series of papers has been developed from our work in upgrading TenStep's PortfolioStep™. For more information on TenStep's internal consulting methodology, please visit http://

Published here October, 2007.

PART 1 | PREPARE Phase, Steps 1 & 2 | PLAN Phase, Steps 3 & 4
PLAN Phase, Steps 5 & 6 | EXECUTE Phase, Steps 7 & 8
HARVEST Phase, Steps 9 & 10 | PART 3

PLAN Phase, Steps 5 & 6

Step 5 - Prioritize the Work (Prioritization)

One of the key assumptions of Project Portfolio Management is that there is much more work requested than the organization can execute in one year. (If, in fact, you could do everything requested, you might not need such a process. However, experience tells us that this is very unlikely unless, perhaps, the business is in a state of decline.)

Once all the work has been selected, a prioritization process begins. First, work is prioritized within each business unit or group, and the Business Cases for all the work are then prioritized to come up with a final list of prioritized work. This process is easily described, but hard to accomplish because of the need for collaboration and consensus amongst all the senior managers and/or stakeholders.

Step 6 - Balance and Optimize the Portfolio (Balancing)

Having selected and prioritized the work, it is important for you to step back and take an overall hard look at the resulting work now contemplated. The question is, is it "balanced"? That is, does the resulting mix satisfy the overall direction of the organization and its overall priorities? Just as important, does the resulting mix produce the best or optimum benefit value?

You may find the answer to the first question is relatively easy to answer by adding up the estimated work under each of the categories and comparing that with the strategic plan. The answer to the second question is more difficult because you not only need to estimate the value of the anticipated future benefits, but you may find yourself trying to compare different types of benefits. Some of these benefits may not necessarily be identifiable in financial terms and you will need to apply subjective judgment.

As an example, a new process or system will lead to a reduced number of steps compared to a previous process. However, the benefit is not likely to be realized in reduced cost because no one will be laid off as a result, but it should lead to reduced errors, consequent higher customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and repeat business. Here there is a clear and desirable benefit, but not one that can be readily compared in direct financial terms.

PLAN Phase, Steps 3 & 4  PLAN Phase, Steps 3 & 4

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