top of page
  • Writer's pictureBill Holmes

Standing up the Portfolio Management Office (PfMO) Part 11 – Measures (Part 4)

project, program, portfolio
Standardized measures allows the PfMO to make "apples to apples" comparisons of dramatically different work

“Consistency is the hallmark of the unimaginative.” Oscar Wilde

“It's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It's what we do consistently.” Anthony Robbins

With all due respect to the great Oscar Wilde, when it comes to Project Management consistency of process is everything. The project itself can be innovative, cutting edge and incredibly complex, but it is the responsibility of the Project Manager to ensure that processes are followed and that the work is going according to plan. If that project reports to a Portfolio Management Office (PfMO), then the measures need to be consistent with the standards that office sets.

In my last post I stated that developing measures should be one of the easiest tasks from a technical perspective, but will be one of the most difficult politically. I then made the point that those measures should be based on the triple constraints and pointed out that you can begin that discussion by asking these simple questions:

What is the work you are doing? How much money do you need to do it? What does your schedule look like?

It is very important that there is precision in defining scope, cost and schedule and that change control and configuration management processes are clearly defined and adhered to. The PfMO needs consistency across all measures so they can determine the extent to which the work within the portfolio is efficiently supporting the strategic goal to which the portfolio is aligned.

The precision in defining the triple constraints will allow the PfMO to use Earned Value Management techniques to assess and compare the performance of the individual activities within the Portfolio at any given point in time. Let’s say that there are two different work streams within the portfolio. One is a traditional project that has an 18 month schedule and the other is a program with an indefinite duration. Because the PfMO put in place a yearly planning cycle and because every activity aligned to that, at any point in time these two very different activities can be compared to each other! This is because both activities have tied the amount of work that is expected at any point in time to their schedule and budget and the PfMO can use Earned Value Management as a benchmark to compare the two.

This process ensures basic project management principles are enforced. For example, if the earned value calculations show that the program is behind on the promised work and is using more resources than planned for, then the PfMO can require that a change request be submitted to align the plan with reality. This change request will force the difficult discussions about the value of the work. It will also ensure that adequate resources are spent on the planning process so that estimates are accurate and based on good data.

Having standardized measures based on the triple constraints allows the PfMO to make “apples to apples” comparisons of different work activities and forces the difficult discussions about the relative value of the work.


I am locked in a running battle with Google. Not a battle in the sense that that Google even knows I exist, but more of a battle in the sense I am having problems with my Google account and I can’t seem to figure out how to resolve it. When I initially stood up my Gmail account a decade ago, it never occurred to me that at some point in the future my entire online existence would be tied to that account! If I want to run ads on my websites or monetize any of my other online activities, I must go through that account. Over the years I have stood up multiple email accounts for various activities and in doing so have completely confused Google as to who I am. This means that I every time I try to log in and use Google for anything beyond email, it becomes a several hours long deep dive into frustration. It is also challenging because it is virtually impossible to talk to a person to get help! Technology can be incredible, but stuff like this drives me crazy.


bottom of page