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 February, 2008.

PART 5 | Tips on Step 8 - Plan and Execute the Work (Activation)
Managing the Portfolio | Tips on Step 9 - Report on Portfolio Status (Reporting & Review) 
Measuring the Success of Projects, Within Tolerances
Portfolio Variances | The Earned Value Technique | PART 7

Managing the Portfolio

The Portfolio Work Schedule

Subject to the previous steps as we have described earlier, then the portfolio work schedule is directly related to the available resources. It may be necessary to go through multiple iterations of a staffing plan and work schedule before everyone feels comfortable with the work schedule. This is especially true for project work that may have business deadlines to meet and will obviously need staff available to work on them.

However, it should be borne in mind that individuals should not be expected to work on more than three projects at the same time. More than this simply reduces their efficiency to unacceptable levels because of the time taken to switch from one project area to another. The result of multiple project over-load is prolonged project schedules and delayed activities. So-called multi-tasking is not an efficient practice.

Project Management

The actual work of managing individual projects falls under the discipline of project management and is well-established elsewhere.

However, from a project portfolio management perspective, your most important consideration is to ensure that all projects follow a consistent project management sequence so that you can track the portfolio as a whole. That means following a consistent project life span, with consistent high-level milestone documentation as described in our Part 3 under The most important process: Design of a common project life span, see Figure 3: Idealized high-level gated project management process.

The key to monitoring a portfolio of projects, consistently across all projects and without overburdening those responsible, is to ensure that these essential documents are prepared, approved, distributed and maintained on all active projects.

Project Management Office

Organizations around the world are implementing formal project management processes and disciplines to deliver their work initiatives on time, within budget and to an agreed upon level of quality. Part of the ability to execute better, faster and cheaper comes from an ability to implement common processes and practices across the entire organization. This way, there is a very small learning curve for the project manager and the team members as they transition from one project to another. This is because everyone in the organization is already familiar with the general ways that projects are planned and managed.

This is best accomplished by establishing a Project Management Office as we discussed in Part 3 under The Role of the Project Management Office.

Technology Management

While project management should be standardized to the extent possible across all projects, this is not the same thing as managing the technology. The methodology that you adopt for managing technology should be that which is most suited to the technology vested in the particular project.

Tips on Step 8 - Plan and Execute the Work (Activation)  Tips on Step 8 - Plan and Execute the Work (Activation)

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