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  • Writer's pictureBill Holmes

Standing up the Portfolio Management Office (PfMO) Part 9 – Measures (Part 2)

Project, program and Portfolio Management
Portfolio Management requires standardized schedule metrics.

“The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Stephen Covey “There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.” Henry Kissinger

In my last post I began the discussion of measures as they relate to the PfMO. I stated that developing measures should be one of the easiest tasks from a technical perspective, but one of the most difficult politically. I then made the point that those measures should be based on the triple constraints and we discussed 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?

We then discussed the importance of getting precision in defining scope, and the resistance you will likely encounter in doing so.

You will encounter the same resistance in establishing a schedule. One of the primary differences between a PfMO and a PMO is that the PfMO can be responsible for a wide variety of work streams, and the natural reaction will be that you “can’t compare this to that because they are fundamentally different”.

Yes, you can!

What is a schedule? It describes when the individual activities required to achieve the scope will be completed. Any individual work stream must have a schedule, otherwise how you can you possibly determine if the work is moving toward achieving the stated strategic goal?

There are several ways to develop a schedule for those work streams, and likely the PfMO will have to force the issue. Who likes to be measured closely on what they are doing?

For projects in the portfolio - make sure that the project managers are adhering to good project management principles and establishing a measurable project schedule.

For programs in the portfolio - develop a repeatable process that establishes a schedule for tracking the annual activities with discrete timelines. Every program has a life cycle, and you can time box the activities based on that life cycle and track against them at the portfolio level.

For sub portfolios, ensure that they develop a standardized “life cycle” for every activity they are responsible for.

Which is what you are doing for the PfMO! Your schedule for each sub activity will be based on a standardized yearly life cycle that ties into the promised individual activities schedules.

This methodology ensures that the PfMO is comparing the promised schedule of each activity with the portfolio (even aggregated as a sub portfolio would present) to actual performance. This allows for an "apples to apples" comparison of schedule performance.

Next we will discuss cost.


This post is late because I was on a cruise last week. What did I see on that cruise? In addition to a lot of rich food and beautiful scenery, I saw people of every shape, color and religion having a great time together. Per the Cruise Director, there over 53 different nationalities represented on that single ship! We ate together, stood in line together, swam together and did shore excursions together. Not once was there any conflict between members of the various groups on the ship. And yet, if you watch the news you would believe we live in a different world! This one hates that one! This group is oppressing that group! This religion is more righteous than that one. Pathetic! Shame on those who tear at the underbelly of our society by picking at minor differences instead of celebrating the goodness that most people represent.


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