4 Steps to Better Portfolio Planning: Plan Your Portfolio Like an NFL team – 4 Steps

AoT is the season for football playoff preparations and clinching the best fantasy and professional teams to advance to the post-season. While winter is full of activities, most PMO leaders are not able to attend holiday dinners or game day parties as they are busy planning meetings, discussing merits of proposed initiatives, and deciding which projects to take on. It can be very similar to this feeling when projects are completed on time, within budget, and productively to move to the next stage. I challenge you to think of yourself as more than a quarterback during planning sessions. Instead, consider yourself a team manager. Instead of focusing on what you need do to win the next game think about what you need for the Super Bowl.
4 Steps to a Better Portfolio Plan
Here are four ways to improve your portfolio planning for a better NFL season.
1. Buy In
The first step in overcoming the challenges of portfolio planning is getting the team onboard. People are often assigned tasks and then measured on how long they take. But if everyone understands the overall purpose of the task and is working towards the right goals, it will lead to better outcomes and the achievement of strategic goals. Politics can often be a barrier to team members gaining buy-in. Team members quickly become disengaged when projects are chosen based on personal agendas and influence. Project management is not without its challenges. However, politics are an inevitable part of the job. It is important to manage it and establish processes to limit political influence. The ability to set mutually agreed upon criteria for project selection and value-based scoring can reduce the likelihood of politics and allow for a strategy-driven decision-making process.
2. Establish Processes
The process helps to keep everyone on the same page and helps you avoid letting politics run your portfolio. The process should not feel like a referee, but you can let it do that for you. Over time, it will feel more like an safety net for everyone. Establishing metrics and using outcome-based measures is key to a successful process. Remember that what is measured is what happens, and you cannot manage what you don’t measure. Do not count yards when you should be calculating points on the scoreboard.
3. Align Tools
You can only go so far with processes. You will need tools to help you implement the processes. Spreadsheets and other disparate systems can create more work than they solve if they aren’t used correctly. Find a tool that automates portfolio management and planning, and allows you to do more strategic thinking.
4. Anticipate Change
Follow the playbook, but don’t forget to read the game. Planning is intended to give direction and a guideline. It is important to be able to anticipate changes and keep up with the curve in order to ensure that you are working with the best outcome. The strategy must be flexible enough to respond quickly and withstand the effects of change. Like football, there are many ways to win a game. There are many factors to consider, as well as elements of uncertainty. It is an important factor in the success and viability of the PMO. Both top-down strategic planning and bottom-up planning are important.

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