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  • Writer's pictureBill Holmes

Standing up the Portfolio Management Office (PfMO) Part 12 – Bringing it all Together

Project, Program, Portfolio
Annual planning is a key component in standing up the PfMO

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw

“A mass of data is not the same as a report.” Simon Moore

In my previous blogs I described what a portfolio was and the need to explain Portfolio Management to the leaders of your organization. I described the types of PfMO’s and we analyzed the usefulness of a Results Management Office, the PfMO’s role in resource allocation and we spent several posts discussing “measures”.

One of the key differences between a Project Management Office (PMO) and a PfMO is that there may be activities within portfolio that don’t have an end date! Projects by definition have a start, a finish and a unique outcome, so every project governed by the PMO will have a schedule, budget and scope that is being managed to.

As I described in the “measures” posts, the PfMO will need to develop a suite of metrics based on the triple constraints. By establishing a fixed timeline (schedule) and requiring that each activity within the portfolio describe what work they will accomplish (scope) and determining the resources required to get that work done (cost), the PfMO can assess each activity in the portfolio against every other activity, even if the work is dramatically different! The PfMO will do this by applying EVM techniques and scoring each activity’s success in meeting its commitments.

In order to achieve this, the PfMO will need to establish (if one is not already in place) a planning process. While the cadence of the planning process can vary (annually, biennial), it must be a repeatable standardized process. The process begins with an assessment of the organization’s current strategic priorities and the portfolio’s alignment to them. While the strategic priorities might not change very often, the work in the portfolio may have evolved into something that is out of alignment or the organizations interpretation of the priority may have changed.

The next step is to conduct an assessment of the individual activities in the portfolio to determine the performance as compared to their commitments as codified in the triple constraints. This should be a relatively simple exercise if the PfMO is monitoring and making corrections throughout the execution period.

Finally, the leaders of the organization need to conduct a “stop, start, continue” meeting where hard choices are made about resource allocation in the upcoming cycle. Those activities which are not performing as expected should be stopped and the resources reallocated to either new activities (start) or existing activities (continue). The re-balancing of resources to ensure that they are being deployed against the highest value strategic work is one of the most important responsibilities of the PfMO office!

I hope you found this series interesting. While it is easy to type a few words and describe how this should all work, the actual execution of it is very challenging. People will naturally resist the changes to how things are done and the learning curve for management will be steep. It also takes time and commitment to make these changes, and often organizations lose interest or choose a different path before they are even done implementing the changes. If you are standing up a PfMO, I would be very interested in hearing about your experiences!


I am beginning to expand into YouTube marketing for both this blog site and a companion site for a product I am launching, the SeaClutch. Someone told me I needed to brand those on LinkedIn as well, so I started two new sites there. Then I was told I needed to leverage Facebook, so I started two channels there. Finally, my daughter told me that no one used Facebook anymore, so I should be on Instagram! I drew the line there, but she was adamant. I subcontracted that work, so now she is producing original content for that. Thanks to the many people who are “liking” and following one or more of these outlets.


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