Pivoting Your Agile Portfolio
An agile portfolio is one that can respond quickly to changes in business needs. This ability to change directions quickly is what I am referring to as the "pivot". You might remember that pivoting is also a basketball term. It refers to planting your foot (the pivot foot) and then quickly changing directions.
What would you do if there was suddenly a new business direction? How quickly can you respond? There are two ways that most organizations would respond today.
- Steal resources from other projects to work on the new priorities. This stretches out the current projects but it allows you to start the new ones.
- Cancel projects or place some projects on hold. This will also free up resources to start the new projects, but has the disadvantage of losing the business benefits of the projects that are stopped.
The better approach is to maintain an active portfolio of projects that is staffed in an optimal way to start and finish in as short a timeframe as possible. This may seem obvious but my perception is that in most portfolios there are too many projects in progress. This results in projects being resource constrained. The three month project, for instance, now takes six months. The five month project now takes ten months. Since projects are not ending frequently, sponsors don't want to wait until resources are available. Instead they want their projects to start now. This gets their project in motion, but what it really does is steal resources from other projects and stretch projects out further.
Do you see how this scenario is an illusion? It appears that you are addressing all the business needs because you have many, many projects in progress. However, the key to obtaining business benefit is not when a project starts – but when it is completed.
This is an important concept and I will repeat it again. The business value derived from projects is not based on when the project starts – but when it ends.
You should determine the staffing level that will allow projects to complete as quickly as possible. Don't add too many projects to the portfolio. Having a lot of project is motion creates the illusion of getting a lot of work done, but all it really does is delay the completion of projects.
This brings us back full circle. Having projects that are ending within any given timeframe allows you to "pivot" quickly. As new priorities arise, the new projects can start quickly because there are always current projects ending and resources available.
Do you want an Agile portfolio? One that can pivot quickly? Contact us today to discuss how to optimize your portfolio processes.
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A new employee in the company mailroom noticed an older man sitting in the corner, sorting mail, weighing packages, adding postage and doing other simple jobs. He asked his supervisor who the man was. "That's Joe." the supervisor said. "He has been with the company for 35 years and is getting close to retirement." "Really?" the new employee replied. "And he's been in the mailroom the whole time?" "No, he left a number of years ago. But he asked for a transfer back – after spending several years as a project manager."
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You all know that as a project manager you have many responsibilities. These are both process oriented and people oriented. But what are the key areas that can turn a regular project manager into an OUTSTANDING project manager.
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