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

Tips on Step 9 - Report on Portfolio Status (Reporting & Review)

Portfolio management requires a commitment to metrics. Metrics are units of measurement used to assess, calculate, or determine progress performance in terms of monetary units, schedule, or quality results. Metrics are required to show how effectively the portfolio is being managed, and are required to show the value of the work that the portfolio produces. The reason you gather portfolio metrics and feedback on resulting products is to determine if you are meeting your portfolio objectives and where you should be improving your portfolio processes.

In general, the approach for measuring and improving the performance of a portfolio is:

  1. Determine client expectations or help set expectations where none exist today
  2. Establish objectives based on the expectations
  3. Create performance targets (scorecard) that quantify the achievement of your objectives
  4. Gather metrics throughout the year to determine how you are performing against your targets and to forecast whether you will achieve your objectives
  5. Communicate the ongoing results of the metrics versus your targets to all appropriate stakeholders
  6. Introduce process improvements as needed to ensure that performance targets and objectives are met

Some examples of metrics:

  • Total capacity. Total capacity tells you how many potential hours your staff is available to work.
  • Utilization rate. Utilization rate shows the percentage of time that people are actually allocated to categories of work. Allowing for overhead time, utilization rates should be in the range 75%-80%.
  • Available hours. This is a forward-looking metric that shows how many hours people are unassigned in the future.
  • Downtime (per person). This metric shows you how many hours people are unallocated. This can happen, for instance, if a person comes off a project and does not have another place to go to immediately. It may also arise if a person is assigned full time to a task but is unable to start it because previous work is not yet completed.
  • Budgeted cost vs. actual. These are basic financial numbers that should be tracked for each project in the portfolio and then rolled up at the portfolio level. If the total project budgets exceed their targets, it could mean that other authorized work will not be able to be executed.
  • Project budgeted schedule vs. actual. All projects should be tracking their performance against their targeted completion dates. Again, if projects are tending to run over their deadlines, it may mean that other projects will not be able to start because the resources are still tied up on other projects.
  • Rework. Reported from the project teams.
  • Defects. Reported from the support teams.
  • Client satisfaction. All projects and operations and support teams should be reporting some kind of customer satisfaction metrics.
  • Benefits realization. Reported by Operations managers. These metrics may be more difficult to collect because of the difficulty of isolating the benefits of individual products versus the improvements experienced by whole departments.
Managing the Portfolio  Managing the Portfolio

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