Tag Archives: MoP

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

Elementary project portfolio management in pictures

I came across an illustrative book published by Ursus Wehrli called the Art of Clean Up. I thought it was great to see how the author rearranged certain situations to create new structures. Now you may ask: “what does that have to do with portfolio management?” Well, I would say a lot. Let us have a look at some of these pictures.

fruitschaalThe first picture shows a bowl with fruit. With this in mind, imagine you looking at all your projects in your organization. Are they all fresh or of recent date? Do you know how many pieces or projects you are looking at? Are there comparable pieces or projects?

To find out, you have to take piece by piece from the bowl and group similar pieces togetherfruitschaal gesorteerd or, in other words, categorize your projects. Which of your projects are there due to regulations, but also, which projects “smell” or, again in other words, which ones are overdue and not contributing to your strategy? Throw those pieces away; kill those projects, they will only draw on your scarce resources.

Assuming we know what projects we have, we can go one step further.

ZwembadDo you know how many people are working on your projects? Are they moving from one project to another?

If there is a problem in one project, some team members from other projects will be trying to help (fire fighting), but at the same time create new problems in their own. Eventually, none of your projects may turn out to be successful. Zwembad gesorteerdWho are the key players in your organization needed on several projects? Do we know how many people are needed for all our projects? Are they all available or do we have a few Supermen who could simply be assigned for at least 200% of their time? So, we need to understand how many resources and what skills are needed for all projects and how many of these skilled people we do have available.

soepbordBased on this information it becomes clear we have to cut in our project portfolio, as we most likely have too many projects going on or planned. So, we need to know which of these projects we can kill or postpone until a later date. What projects will bring the highest benefits to our soepbord gesorteerdorganization, what are the risks in these projects and what will those projects cost? Based on this information we can prioritize our projects. Taking our resource constraints (People & Budget) into account, we can draw a solid line to see which of the projects in portfolio are feasible (“above the line”) and by that which projects need to be killed or postponed (“below the line”).

sterrenhemelAfter we have gone through these steps, we should be looking at a portfolio of projects we are able to finish successfully. But will these all turn out to be a success? Do we know where we stand for each and all? sterrenhemel gesorteerdOr are we only looking at some big bright stars leaving the rest in a dark black hole? To monitor our projects we need progress information and early warnings of a project becoming a risk for all of our projects. A simple dashboard with this kind of information will be helpful in managing the complete project portfolio.

mapWhen looking at the pictures you may conclude that the basics of portfolio management are not that difficult. But in reality it will prove to be much more difficult implementing these basic steps. Use these ingredients, these basic steps, to build your own implementation plan and make sure you communicate this plan to all your map gesorteerdstakeholders. Let them know where you stand today, what route you will follow and where you most likely are to be ending.

Looking forward to your reactions. Feel free to share your own project portfolio management pictures.

MoP Management products model

Dia1Dia1In some of my previous blogs I gave you some material, like a QRC and index tabs for the manual and a reference to the BCG’s dice, to help you passing the MoP exam. In this blog I give you a picture to emphasize on the products used to implement MoP and the ones created during the Portfolio definition cycle and created and maintained during the Portfolio delivery cycle. Feel free to comment and suggest improvements. To  download: MoP (Product model, 130427) v1.0

Who am I to question the dice?

images-1Dia1Several year ago I read the book The Dice Man, by Luke Rhinehart; “If that dice has a ‘one’ face up, I thought, I’m going downstairs to rape Arlene. If it’s a one, … …the other numbers mean bed, the dice is cast.  Who am I to question the dice?’

Now reading the official MoP manual I came across an example about assessing the likelihood of change initiative success and failure. The Boston Consulting Group identified that success or failure ultimately comes down to a combination of the following elements, which the BCG refers to as DICE:

  • The Duration (D) of the project or the time between major review milestones
  • The performance Integrity (I) of the project team
  • The organizational Commitment to change, specifically that of senior managers (C1) and local-area staff (C2)
  • The additional organizational Effort (E) required for implementation above and beyond usual work requirements

So who am I to question the dice?

If you go tot heir website (http://dice.bcg.com) you get access tot their model, videos explaining the model and you could download the article Transformation: How to Load the Dice in Your Favor.

imagesA simple model, which will helps you to identify problem initiatives in your portfolio. Using the model via the webpage, will give you an explanation of the score in the range win, worry, woe, and options (including videos) to improve the scores of the individual element.




The model is build around the following formula D+2I+2C1+2C2+E

  • D score 1-4: <2 months (1) – >8 months (4)
  • I score 1-4, with steps of 0.5: Very good (1) – Poor (4)
  • C1 score 1-4, with steps of 0.5: Clearly, strongly communicate need (1) – Reluctant (4)
  • C2 score 1-4, with steps of 0.5: Eager (1) – Strongly reluctant (4)
  • E score 1-4: <10% additional (1) – >40% additional (4)

P3M3 Quick Reference Card

Many organizations have invested in setting up a PMO, implemented methods and frameworks like PRINCE2, MSP and MoP, and organized training to qualify staff. But sometimes they still don’t see the return on their investment. Some projects or programmes delivered well and others are at risk or complete disasters and the can’t answer the question why?

Organizations that are not mature can still deliver outstanding results but at the same time other projects could be a complete failure. The successes are probably due to individual competences and what will happen when these people will leave the organization? The methods and frameworks are probably not embedded into the way the organization functions. A maturity model will help you to understand your current maturity level and highlights those areas where performance improvements will give the most value in the short and long terms. There are several maturity models:

  • PMI: Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3)
  • CO: Portfolio, Programme, Project Management Maturity Model (P3M3)
  • CO: PRINCE2 Maturity Model (P2M3), subset of P3M3: only Project Maturity Model to level 3 only
  • SEI: Capability Maturity Model (CMMi)
  • ITSMF: IT Service Management Capability Maturity Model (ITSM-CMM), aligned to ITIL

In this blog post I show you a quick reference card of the P3M3 model, in a next one I will go into the coming version of the OPM3 model from PMI. To download: P3M3 (QRC, 130301) v1.0


MoP manual supporting tabs, a helping aid to pass your MoP practitioner exam

photoDia1I am happy to announce that as of now, MoP practitioner candidates can make use of a simple aid to quickly find your way in the official MoP manual during e.g. your exam. These tabs (place marks) are developed in line with the successful tabs I developed for the PRINCE2 and MSP manuals. I am discussing with the Best Practices User Group if they want to be the publisher of this aid.

Please have a look and give me your comments or references you would like to include. If you want to use it right now you have to print it on a sticker A4 paper.MoP (tabs_2011_EN, 130215) v0.2

MoP Quick Reference Card

Many organizations are struggling with their project portfolio. The number of projects is increasing, there are continuously new surprises, overview of projects is lacking, several pet projects exists, the one who called the loudest, gets the priority, required resource insight is missing and we know what we spent, but don’t know what we get.

If you recognize this it’s probably time to get some structure in place. MoP, part of the Best Management Practice portfolio from the Cabinet Office, focuses on an organization’s collection of change initiatives and is based on tried and tested principles, practices and techniques that together help organization’s deliver their transformation agenda and realize strategic objectives.


The portfolio management model contains the five principles, the portfolio definition and portfolio delivery cycles and practices needed to effectively define and deliver the portfolio.

I created a MoP quick reference card to become familiar at a glance with this model. Have a look and please share your comments, remarks, improvements etc. To download: MoP (one pager, 140331)v0.3