Embracing Agile Portfolio Management

January 23, 2023

Gaining a Total Portfolio View

If you are like most companies, you have embraced using Agile for your digital transformation journey. Several teams use agile practices, but you don’t have a total portfolio view. It may be time to implement Agile Portfolio Management to foster a culture of transparency and openness.

What is Agile Portfolio Management?

Agile portfolio management deals with how your organization identifies, prioritizes, organizes, and manages different products to ensure the right things are done at the right time. It is done in a streamlined way to optimize the development of value in a manner that’s sustainable in the long run. It ensures that business strategy remains under continuous review, allowing flexibility to reallocate resources for emerging priorities based on customer requirements changing or new ideas.

Three Pillars of Agile Portfolio Management

Maintain Transparency

Knowing what your teams are working on and the current status is always a core element of any project management process, emphasizing detailed status reporting by portfolio or project managers. Even with project tools, reporting takes time and is only as good as input data.  

On the other hand, Agile focuses on creating a shared purpose for everyone to follow from a strategic and project management point of view. Through implementing connected visual boards, your portfolio manager can easily capture ideas for multiple projects, creating a shared understanding of what is happening inside the portfolio. The goal is to establish an open environment where critical stakeholders can quickly check the status of a project, reducing the need to prepare extensive reports. Agile also emphasizes high-level forecasting project plans that the teams progressively refine, taking actual data into account and retaining the flexibility to update the plans based on new information.

Continuous Experimentation to Determine Project Viability

Selecting the right project to work on can be overwhelming with competing priorities. Learning how to pick the most valuable ones to work on and prioritizing them accordingly comes through rapid experimentation. Running small experiments as part of the validation process can help determine whether a project is worth pursuing. Understanding the cost of delay enables you to determine how much money you would lose if the project delivery is delayed. The highest priority projects should coincide with the highest cost of delay. If there are two projects with the exact cost of delay, you may want to start the shortest one first. In addition to the cost of delay, you must also consider market and technical risks to determine priorities.

Achieve Alignment between Strategy and Execution

Since the portfolio is the connecting part, effective portfolio management requires aligning the highest business objective with the project execution. Frequent feedback loops applied across your company’s management (globally) and your teams (locally) create a network of short planning and learning cycles. It enables you to review strategy, project risk, and delivery capabilities to quickly adapt and shift your priorities toward the most critical priority.  

Getting Started

If you are ready to improve overall visibility and strategic alignment at the portfolio level and strive to build a healthy agile culture within your organization, we are here to help. We understand your portfolio is only as successful as your weakest team and can help you ensure success. Call us today to discuss available options.