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 December, 2007.

PART 3 | Tips on Step 1 - Portfolio Setup (Categorization)
Tips on Step 2 - Identify Needs and Opportunities (Identification) 
Tips on Step 3 - Evaluate Options (Evaluation) | Investment Science
Tips on Step 4 - Select the Work (Selection) | Secondary Selection Criteria for Screening | PART 5

In this Part 4 we will cover:

Tips on Step 1 - Portfolio Setup (Categorization)

The first time your organization introduces portfolio management, it must determine all of the elements that will compose the planned portfolio. In a large organization there may be more than one portfolio, each designed for a different division or different focus. Selection of the respective components will depend on the individual portfolio plan's operational goals and objectives. Your best way to draw up an inventory of all of the potential components is to establish a set of Key Descriptors through which the components can be identified, assembled and compared, i.e. categorized.

For example, the following list suggests possible descriptors that you could adopt and include:

  • Reference number
  • Brief description of the component
  • Class of component, e.g.
    • Project
    • Program
    • Business Case
    • Value Proposition
    • Sub-portfolio
    • Other related work
  • Strategic objectives supported
  • Benefits - quantitative
  • Benefits - qualitative
  • Sponsor, client, customer
  • Type of product, deliverable or enabler
  • Estimated cost
  • Risk category

Based on this data, the potential components can be categorized based on one or more of the descriptors such as Class, Objectives, Type of Benefits, Client, Cost or Risk level, depending on whatever makes the most sense to the organization. In subsequent years, the principles will have been established so this step should prove to be easier. Nevertheless, the actual components in the various categories identified will change.


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