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Having senior management commitment, setting up the needed governance alignment, and ensuring continued alignment with the strategy involves important efforts. Typically the portfolio director responsible for this is supported by a portfolio office.

In contrast with a project office, a portfolio office is a permanent function that enables the portfolio governance bodies to take better investment decisions.

To provide accurate and timely information about the entire project portfolio, it is important that minimum standards are in place such as key project milestones. The portfolio office can provide a service to define and improve such a project lifecycle.

While preparing the portfolio dashboard, the portfolio office will critically analyse project data. In a large financial institution, the monthly portfolio dashboard covers the top 10 projects of the company and those projects that are in exception. For each of these, the portfolio office schedules a 30-minute meeting to discuss the project’s progress information. The result is a reliable dashboard on with the investment board can take decisions such as reprioritization of resources, cancelling a project, re-scoping a project, etc.

There are a three attention points in order to have a strong portfolio office:

1/ are the resources skilled for the job at hand

2/ has the portfolio office received the status it requires – position it as high as possible in the organization’s structure

3/ is the portfolio office independent of the project delivery functions – you do not want the portfolio office being responsible for the success of each and every project

Note that AXELOS has a specific guidance for setting up or improving existing portfolio, programme, and project offices. It is called the P3O guidance.

Have a look at your portfolio office and evaluate if the services it provides do indeed serve better decision-making.

Next time in Portfolio Management-back to the basics: have an energized change culture.

Other articles in the series back to basics:

– Senior management commitment

– Align with the organizational governance

– Align with the organizational strategy

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