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Project Portfolio Management – Prioritise your vision

So you have vision statements for each of your projects and you’re now ready to set up a portfolio management group. Start by seeing your portfolio of projects as a prioritised list. The value of these projects can be grouped by understanding what’s important to your company (I’ll cover corporate strategy in later posts).

Agile development techniques give you rapid feedback and deliver usable functionality early on in your projects. You should be providing business value each sprint so you can revise your expectations early. This is much better than waiting until the end of the project to see if it succeeds. This can now drive better decision making for the portfolio manager and relevant stakeholders.

So let’s look at some real scenarios for a project on your portfolio. You are designing a web site for your company. Your idea is to sell products that you have in your shop. On your portfolio you start with a project to allow people to view the products but not sell.

Project vision statement:

I want our customers to be able to see the products we sell on a public web site with our contact details, so that we can increase interest and get them to come to the store, unlike now where they have to find us in magazines, allowing us to get people into our shop rather than going to company XYZ’s.

Ok so that’s clear enough to start with. So let’s decide on a few simple KPI’s (I’m ignoring ROI for now):

1)       Number of hits on the web site

  • Expected: 10 per day

2)      Revenue figures

  • Expected: Increase of 10 products sales per week

Scenario 1: Accelerate

The project delivers a web site within two sprints and goes live. This release contains our garden range and contact details for the shop. Let’s check this against our expected KPI’s:

1)       Number of hits on the web site

  • Expected: 10 per day
  • Actual: 100 per day

2)      Number of hits on the web site

  • Expected: Increase of 10 products sales per week
  • Actual: Increase of 30 products sales per week

The amount of sales being generated has increased significantly from our expectations and our ROI has shot up. These figures how caused the project to overtake others in terms of project priority so we decide to put more resources on to it and put more functionality into the delivery.

Scenario 2: Shelved

Another project has turned out to be much higher value than expected so this one is now being shelved so that resources can be diverted on to it. The project can be re-prioritised onto the portfolio backlog.

Scenario 3: Halted

The project is started off well and returned really good figures for the gardening section, since adding the books and paint content we’ve seen no increase in hits or sales. The project is halted. Please note that it has returned some business value.

Scenario 4: Abandoned

Following one sprint and putting the gardening furniture online we check the KPI’s, turns out these are well below expectations. As a company we pull the plug early and abandon the project.

1)       Number of hits on the web site

  • Expected: 10 per day
  • Actual: 1 per day

2)      Number of hits on the web site

  • Expected: Increase of 10 products sales per week
  • Actual: Increase of 0 products sales per week

Further reading:

This article has been of great use to me in this post, so if you want more detailed information please take a look:

http://www.scrumalliance.org/articles/58-managing-an-agile-project-portfolio

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