Tag Archives: MoP

MoP Practice 1: Understand. How to obtain a clear and transparent view?

Dia1The purpose of the ‘understand’ practice is to obtain a clear and transparent view of what is in the current portfolio and the project (initiative) development pipeline, performance to date and, looking forward, the forecast costs, benefits, and risks to delivery and benefits realization.

But you have to be careful with transparency, see e.g. the quote from the Victor Lamme, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Amsterdam (see article). You could also ask yourself if the transparency is one of the reasons why senior management are sometimes hesitating to implement portfolio management. Do they want to show what change initiatives are there in the pipeline to the whole organization? What does it mean or do with the organization if they are aware of an upcoming reorganization or transformation? On the other hand if there is no transparency, if not all initiatives are clear, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to build a portfolio that is achievable.

Dia03This article is divided into the following paragraphs:

  • Collection of the needed and consistent information
  • Approaches to obtain initiatives
  • Keys to successful understanding

To download: MoP (practice 1 Understand, 141006) v0.1

This post will be used in a new book MoP practices in practice, for portfolio managers who want to embed the MoP theory in their organization. In the coming months several blog posts and articles will be published waiting for your feedback. To see all, select the tag MoP_practices_in_practice.

MoP Practice 2: Categorize. How to define groups or segments?

Dia1The purpose of the categorize practice is to organize change initiatives into groups, segments or sub-portfolios to make it easier for senior management to understand what initiatives are part of the portfolio and how they will contribute to e.g. the strategic objectives of the organization. It will also help to decide on the balance of the portfolio across the different categories and on the optimum use of available resources (funding, people). Allocation of available resources across the different segments must reflect the strategic alignment of each segment. Each group or segment can have its own investment criteria to appraise and prioritize.

Dia04This article is divided into the following paragraphs:

  • Reflection on a simple portfolio
  • Categories or segments
  • Agile development teams
  • Building your segmented portfolio
  • Keys to successful categorization

To download: MoP (practice 2 Categorize, 140926) v0.1

This post will be used in a new book MoP practices in practice, for portfolio managers who want to embed the MoP theory in their organization. In the coming months several blog posts and articles will be published waiting for your feedback. To see all, select the tag MoP_practices_in_practice.

MoP Practice: Prioritize 3. How to build a prioritization model?

Dia1The purpose of the prioritize practice is to support senior management, portfolio board or portfolio governance body to answer the following questions:

  • Which initiatives are the right projects to invest in?
  • What are the most important initiatives?
  • What initiatives must be resourced above all other initiatives?

The official MoP manual stated that answering these questions is only possible when all initiatives have been prioritized. This prioritization can be done for the portfolio as a whole or when the portfolio has been divided into several categories or segments, for each category or segment.

In this article I will emphasis on the how. I will look at the approach and will go a step further than the manual to give you more in depth details what you have to do. E.g. the manual stated “Agree the importance of each criterion by assigning a weighting or percentage of relative importance – and ensure that the total percentages of all criteria add up to 100”. Sounds easy, but how can you decide and calculate which weighting or percentage of relative importance you have to use for each criterion?

Dia15This article is divided into the following paragraphs:

  • Different types of metrics or selection criteria
  • Single criterion analysis
  • Multi-criteria analysis (MCA)
  • Keys to successful prioritization

To download: MoP (practice prioritize, 140908) v0.1

This post will be used in a new book MoP practices in practice, for portfolio managers who want to embed the MoP theory in their organization. In the coming months several blog posts and articles will be published waiting for your feedback. To see all, select the tag MoP_practices_in_practice.

MoP Practice: Management control. To OTOBOS or not?

Dia1For many years already, the Standish Group describes in their Chaos report about the number of successful and less successful projects. How many projects are delivered On Time, On Budget and On Scope?

Many organizations are using these cpi’s as early warning indicators using RAG (Red, Amber, Green) to express if, e.g. the planning is at risk. Green when everything is running smoothly, Amber when the governance body, the project board, needs to know that problems are encountered but the project manager has options to solve, and Red when the project is off track and the project board has to make a decision. Because it’s an early warning indicator the indicator will switch from amber or red to green when the issue has been solved or a decision has been taken.

On a periodic basis many organizations look at their portfolio and calculate how many projects are at risk and use this information in their performance management systems to show how well they are performing.


Figure 1: Portfolio progress

If you look at figure 1, I could imagine a manager to say “we are doing pretty well with our projects, of course we do have our problems but on average between 10 and 20% of our projects have issues.” Does this sound familiar? In this example there are only two projects that report Amber in the last month, but what does this say? Are we really in control on all the projects? Let’s have a closer look. For initiative a we had some problems in July and as a consequence the end date was postponed. Initiative b is really a project at risk with several problems and the end date was moved more than once. Only initiative c will deliver at the original end date and I has been delivered at the original end date. Thus the manager had to say: “we really have problems with the delivery of our projects, only around 20% of our projects will be delivered On Time.” So if you report on your project portfolio progress it’s good to use the OTOBOS indicators but use the information from the original project portfolio plan as your baseline, and use e.g. changed end dates, to calculate how many of the projects in the portfolio are successful or not.

This post will be used in a new book MoP practices in practice, for portfolio managers who want to embed the MoP theory in their organization. In the coming months several blog posts and articles will be published waiting for your feedback. To see all, select the tag MoP_practices_in_practice.

Lost in standards

Dia1In the last “projectie, edition 04-2014”, the bi-monthly magazine of ipma-nl, I published a Dutch article about the many methods and frameworks that are available in the field of portfolio, programme and project management. To download: Verdwaald in het standaardenbos IPMA Projectie magazine 04-2014 I created a sort of quick reference card with available standards and frameworks (It’s limited, there are many more). To download: standards-qrc-170129-v1-9

In the middle of the quick reference card you find a generic model with portfolio, programme and project management as horizontal boxes. Behind these boxes you will find vertical boxes with PMO, IT, benefits management, value management and risk management to support project, programme and portfolio management. And as the background I used two triangles representing the people and maturity of project, programme and portfolio management. From this model I made connections with several well-known organizations that develop and own standards. E.g. Axelos as the owner of PRINCE2, MSP, MoP, MoV, MoR, P3M3 and ITIL or PMI as the owner of PMBoK, The standard for Portfolio Management, The standard for Programme Management, OPM3, etc. You will also find AMPG, APM, IPMA and several suppliers of Agile/Scrum as well as some ISO models. dia1 In the Dutch article, I focus on the usage of these standards. It’s not that simple that you only have to select a project management method. Je must be aware that it will not be possible to implement all your ideas and ambitions. You have to select the right initiatives. This will ask for a portfolio management method. To realize your strategic objectives, you need more than only projects. You will run programmes too, asking for a programme management method. Besides temporary project and programme offices you probably need a permanent portfolio office as well as a centre of excellence to communicate, support and train staff to use these standards and best practices.

At a certain moment you want to know were you are from a maturity view, in comparison with others, and based on your own ambition you would like to know the gap you have to bridge. It will be beneficial for an organization if all these models or frameworks are connected to each other. As a rule of thumb, I would advice an organization to choose for either Axelos or PMI as the starting point and combine your choice with the competence baseline from IPMA. If you choose e.g. for PRINCE2, it makes sense to choose for MSP and MoP for your programme and portfolio management. For maturity scans you look at P3M3 because that’s in line with these standards. Your temporary and permanent PMO will be supported by P3O, etc. For supplementary techniques you could make use of the PMBoK from PMI.

Or, when you started with the PMI family, it makes sense to combine this with the project or programme board approaches from PRINCE2 and MSP and the usage of business cases as described in PRINCE2 9789401800068_CoverLR-541x850I am one of the authors of the book Global standards and publications, edition 2014/2015, Van Haren Publishing. You can download a free copy of this book. http://www.vanharen.net/file/PDF/9789401800068.pdf Please let me know if you are aware of new standards that are worthwhile to mention in this QRC.

for a comparison between PRINCE2 and PMBoK see the overview from KnowledgeTrain: Comparison PRINCE2/PMBoK


  • 17/01/29: Added PM2 Project Management Methodology from The European Commission
  • 17/01/29: Added Scrum @ Scale from Srcuminc.com
  • 16/01/23: Added Nexus (Scaled Professional Scrum) from Scrum.org
  • 15/10/04: IPMA ICB3 replaced with ICB4
  • 15/07/07: Added new Axelos framework PRINCE2 Agile
  • 15/05/27: Added Change mgt vertical + CMBoK (Change Management body of Knowledge) + CHAMPS2
  • 15/04/24: Added ISO 21500 project, 21503 programme, 21504 portfolio, 21505 Governance, 21506 Vocabulary
  • 15/02/24: Added CCPM (Goldratt), CMMi, Global Alliance for Project Performance Standards (GAPPS)
  • 14/10/21: Added Exin Agile Scrum from EXIN
  • 14/09/29: Added Agile Programme Management (Agile PgM) from APMG
  • 14/09/29: Added PRiSM™ (Projects integrating Sustainable Methods) from GPM
  • 14/09/29: Added Portfolio, Program & Project Sustainability Model (PSM3) from GPM

MoP; The strategic and organizational context at a glance

Dia1MoP can be divided into four integrated elements: The strategic and organizational context, Principles, Portfolio Definition Cycle, and Portfolio Delivery Cycle.

Before you go into the details of the portfolio definition and portfolio delivery cycles you must understand how portfolio management links to the following six key functionalities or activities: strategic/business planning, business as usual, budgeting and resource allocation, project and program management, performance management and corporate governance.

The official MoP book addresses the relationship between portfolio management and each key functionality or activity individually.

To help my students in MoP training classes to understand these relationships, I brought these six together. As a result it’s easier to understand why these relationships exists.

Dia1If you look at the figure, you start at the top. Strategic/business planning drives on one hand business as usual (Run the business) and sets the basis for the scope of the portfolio (change the business). To make sure everybody will do what is needed to achieve the objectives you need to have performance management in place. KPI’s to support business as usual as well as KPI’s to support the change initiatives. Missing KPI’s will definitely result in failure or problems. Programme and project management are mechanisms to deliver the changes. Portfolio management will deliver the standards, processes, and staff development (Centre of Excellence) and the management of dependencies and overall risk management for the programme and project management function. Budgeting and resource allocation (money, people, equipment, facilities, etc.) will help you to control and to build a portfolio that is manageable and realistic to deliver and to keep the shop open. The results from programme and project management will lead to an adjusted business as usual organization and running the adjusted business organization will result in the realization of forecasted benefits. Behind all these functions you will find corporate governance. The ongoing activity of internal control and portfolio management supports this control by linking the strategy with the portfolio, providing a framework to deliver the portfolio, and creating clarity on roles and responsibilities and progress against plan.

Besides these six key functionalities or activities portfolio management can/will/need to collaborate with other functionalities e.g. communications, IT, finance, procurement, HR, etc.

To download the figure: MoP (Org context, 140711) v1.0

Portfolio Management and what we can learn from The Tour de France, the annual cycling race.

The peloton rides during the sixth stage of the 96th Tour de France cycling race between Gerona and BarcelonaSaturday July 5th ,the 101th edition will start. Look at this picture, do you know who all those cyclists riding together are? In MoP terms we are looking at the first practice of the Portfolio Definition cycle: Understand. But To see all cyclists doesn’t mean it’s easy to see who is who and who will be selected to be part of the race. Let’s break up the group in different teams or looking at MoP practice categorize to make life easier of senior management to understand the make up of their portfolio.

image2Having teams is not enough, probably their are to many cyclists in the team to be part of the race. We have to prioritize using the strategy; are we going for individual stage winners or for the overall winner (yellow jersey) are we focussing on the polka dot jersey (worn by the King of the Mountains) or do we select sprinters to win the green jersey (is given to the rider who has picked up the most points during the Tour). So we have to select the right cyclists from each team to fulfil their strategy.

image3In MoP terms we are looking at prioritization to select the right projects. See what happens if we have to many cyclists. How many will still manage to achieve their goals. Think about your portfolio if you have too many projects. Probably less will finish on time and if you reduce your portfolio and choose the right ones the chance that more projects will be finished on time is much bigger.image4

And do you know what cyclists do every evening? They study the map to understand what they have to do, where will be mountains, where are difficult points, where do they see possibilities to jump away. In other words how can we manage a portfolio without a portfolio plan?

image5It’s nice to have a roadmap, a plan, but do we know how we are progressing? Who is number one, who lost some places, are we still on time to meet our objectives (the yellow jersey, or are are we focussing on the polka dot jersey). In the tour we will get a new ranking report after every stage, do you get periodical progress reports about your portfolio delivery?image6

Together with Klaas Hermans, a colleague of mine, we developed the second release of the MoP Quick Reference Card. Feel free to download and share your comments, remarks etc. See: Management of portfolio QRC re-draw v2 42

See also: Portfolio management in pictures