Develop a Project Portfolio Management Strategy

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Your Challenge

  • As Portfolio Manager, you’re responsible for communicating portfolio results and future capacity to your steering committee.
  • Business and IT leaders need more accurate information on project status and resource availability to decide when to start and stop projects.
  • You need to better understand the needs of the PMO and assess the costs and benefits associated with different tools and approaches to PPM.  

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • PPM is a practice, not a tool. Before succeeding with a commercial tool, you need to establish discipline and trust around reporting processes, which can be done using spreadsheets and other simple tools.
  • Portfolio management is separate from project management. Think of it as the accounting department for time. Project managers report into the portfolio and are held accountable to it, but it isn’t simply an extension of project management.

Impact and Result

  • Decrease the wasted portfolio budget by reducing the number of cancelled projects and other sources of efficiency.
  • Establish the portfolio as the “one source of truth” for project reporting by increasing rigor around project status updating and reporting.
  • Align project intake with resource capacity to improve throughput, quality of estimates, and stakeholder satisfaction.


  • Alana Ruckstuhl, IT Project Officer, Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
  • Shaun Cahill & Jim Carse, Project Manager & Director of the Project Portfolio Office, Queen's University
  • Jay Wardle, Director of the PMO, Red Wing Shoes Co. 

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See how all the steps you need to take come together, with tools and advice to help with each task on your list.

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Get to Action

  1. Make the case

    Gain an understanding of how this PPM strategy will be relevant for the PMO, as well as why stakeholders should support this endeavor.

  2. Assess the current state of PPM

    Understand the current state of project portfolio management capability. The overall score(s) from the diagnostic(s) will inform the next steps of this blueprint by identifying current and target capability levels.

  3. Conduct a cost and benefit analysis

    Decide whether the organization has the capability and the budget to use a commercial PPM tool and/or if it should implement a homegrown solution.

  4. Articulate the PPM strategy

    Define PPM processes such as project request, intake prioritization and approval, time tracking, and resourcing. Pilot the strategy with the organization and make changes as necessary.

  5. Right-size PPM tools

    Make a decision regarding PPM tools based on the organization's needs, maturity, and available budget.

  6. Define and implement the near-term plan

    Establish next steps that are within the authority of the PMO that do not require approval or investment outside of that authority. Pilot the PPM Workbook to test the ability to maintain portfolio data.

  7. Define the long-term plan

    Develop a plan to gain approval, stakeholder buy-in, and the investment of time and money to accomplish long-term PPM goals.

Guided Implementation icon Guided Implementation

This guided implementation is a seven call advisory process.

  • Call #1: Scoping Call

    Discuss the relevance of this project for your organization.

  • Call #2: Review the findings of your current state assessment with an analyst

    Our advisors will review your assessment and ensure that you are setting realistic target goals.

  • Call #3: Finalize cost & benefit assumptions

    Discuss your cost and benefit assumptions and ensure that your near-term and long-term targets are realistic and that the benefit will outweigh the cost of PPM.

  • Call #4: Discuss your PPM strategy

    The analyst will assist you in making these decisions based on organizational capability level.

  • Call #5: Right-size PPM tools

    Discuss the most appropriate tool options for your organization.

  • Call #6: Define your near-term plan

    Have an analyst help you to brainstorm quick-wins to achieve your PPM milestones.

  • Call #7: Finalize your long-term PPM strategy

    Have an analyst help you define the milestones, and scope and apply organizational change management best practices to ensure adoption.

Onsite Workshop

Module 1: Assess PPM Capability

The Purpose

  • A completed business case comparing the costs and benefits of implementing a new or improved PPM strategy.
  • An overview of your organization’s current and target capability levels.
  • A completed cost benefit analysis that will help to inform decisions regarding PPM tool selection. 

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Communicate the costs and benefits of completing this project.
  • Have a high-level view your organization’s current PPM capability and set your target state goals.
  • Calculate the cost of PPM to your organization and the benefits of optimizing your PPM processes. 

Activities: Outputs:
1.1 Estimate the benefits of implementing a PPM strategy
  • A completed business case comparing the costs and benefits of implementing a new or improved PPM strategy.
1.2 Use the PPM Strategy Template to make the case for developing a PPM strategy
  • An overview of your organization’s current and target capability levels
1.3 Consider the expectations that leadership has for Project Portfolio Management
  • A completed cost benefit analysis that will help to inform decisions regarding PPM tool selection
1.4 Use Info-Tech’s PPM capability model to define your current and target states
1.5 Calculate the cost of the portfolio to your organization

Module 2: Develop the PPM Strategy

The Purpose

  • To articulate the PPM strategy, with definition to be added in the near and long-term plan stages.
  • To conduct a realistic assessment of your capability to adopt different types of PPM tools. 

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Make decisions regarding your reporting, project intake, resource management, and project closure procedures.
  • The beginning stages of your PPM strategy, to be revised and elaborated upon in the upcoming phase.

Activities: Outputs:
2.1 Establish a process and tools for providing portfolio visibility to executives
  • A PPM strategy, with definition to be added in the near and long-term plan stages
2.2 Determine the degree of rigor required around project intake, approval, and prioritization
  • A realistic assessment of your capability to adopt different types of PPM tools
2.3 Define a high-level resource management strategy
2.4 Assess and refine project closure procedures
2.5 Document the PPM strategy
2.6 Review the Tool Assessment graphic in the PPM Strategy Development Tool

Module 3: Implement and Maintain the PPM Strategy

The Purpose

  • To make a distinction between your near-term and long-term PPM strategies.
  • To implement the near-term plan.
  • To define the action plan and timeline to set you on the right path to achieve your long-term PPM goals. 

Key Benefits Achieved

  • The opportunity to begin implanting certain aspects of your strategy in the near-term to build up towards your long-term plan.

Activities: Outputs:
3.1 Brainstorm quick-wins to increase your PPM capability
  • The PPM Standard Operating Procedure
3.2 Create an action plan for implementing the near-term plan
  • The PPM Charter
3.3 Download and complete the PPM Standard Operating Procedure
3.4 Develop a plan to manage resistance to the new PPM strategy
3.5 Document other risks and constraints that might inhibit the success of the PPM strategy
3.6 Document the long-term plan in Info-Tech’s PPM Charter

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Onsite Workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn’t enough, we offer low-cost onsite delivery of our Project Workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a road map in place to complete your project successfully.

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