Demystifying Project Portfolio Management – To Make a Real Difference!



I recently came across one of those YouTube-type videos that truly moves you and potentially changes your life. (I don’t say this lightly – particularly for potentially “dry” topics like PMOs and project portfolio management!)

The video is by Don Kingsberry who was previously head of the Enterprise PMO (EPMO) at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The video can be found here:

Don briefly provides the context and process for establishing an EPMO to achieve maximum impact and results.

There are a couple of reasons that I really like this one hour plus video:

1) The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is running a myriad of genuinely life-saving initiatives and programmes that are making a difference in the lives of millions of people.

2) Don shows the compelling need for an Enterprise PMO with its project portfolio management approach and then goes on to explain the implementation process, key focus areas, tools you can use, and “EPMO Secrets, Success Factors, Best Practices”.  He demystifies that which many people sometimes “throw into the too-hard basket”.

The project portfolio management process which is utilises is a typical one:

1)     Confirm the strategic objectives and turn them into initiatives.

2)     Define programs and projects from the initiatives (into manageable chunks).

3)     Prioritise and optimise/balance the portfolio (using a decision framework/portfolio valuation criteria and then understand the constraints and dependencies)

4)     Formally approve the portfolio

5)      Conduct risk reviews and factor in remediation strategies to further optimise the portfolio.

He also emphasises the use of the “Capability Maturity Model (CMM)” which measures the progress against current vs desired “optimal” state capability maturity level for each of the priority capability areas.

Some of the very relevant and powerful EPMO Implementation Secrets – Lessons Learned include:

·        Senior Management support and commitment

·        Critical to get the Program Management Office organisation in place

·        Use a small core team – empowered to make decisions and take action

·        Establish clear Mission, Goals, Processes, Procedures & Policies

·        Start delivery operational data immediately – don’t wait for systems

·        Plan and implement engagement, alignment and partnership with users.

The most important critical success factors for implementing this EPMO include:

·        There needs to be an empowered PMO organisation in place with strong leadership and a mandate for action.

·        One needs to set baselines and measure variances, including the use of tools such as Earned Value.

·        Must assemble a team who communicates a passion for project management

This video will tap your passion for project portfolio management (PPM), because PPM can – and is – making a difference in the effective planning and conduct of the right projects being done which are making a life-and-death difference to millions of people around the globe.

Very inspirational – and by the way, it can be similarly done in your organisation!


About addedval

Ken's journey has been as a pathfinder who seeks out opportunities for making a real difference to global teams working together effectively and realising amazing business results. This covers his work as a Partner for a major management consulting company in multiple countries, as an entrepreneur with starting and selling various businesses, as a property developer and capital raiser and as head of various boutique consultancies.
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