You can never be too small

Portfolio management is a term many professionals will have heard of but few can accurately define. Essentially, it involves creating and maintaining a portfolio of projects that furthers a business towards its specific strategic goals. Traditionally, portfolio management has been the realm of enterprises, but any growing business can use the concept’s practical elements to improve its operations.

For many companies, strategies that further growth remain plentiful but uncoordinated. Portfolio management centralises the handling of these projects to ensure goals are achieved and projects stay on track. This includes information management, defining a clear delivery plan and assessing the risk of each project against its expected outcomes. When implemented effectively and monitored regularly, portfolio management can be a high impact practice.

In fact, to achieve maximum benefit the process should ideally be carried out at the earlier stages of the company’s growth as it means everything is coordinated.

Investing in portfolio management is essential if you want your company to grow competently, as outlined below:

  1. Managing Business Intelligence

One of the key benefits of portfolio management is that it enables senior management to assess, select, prioritise and terminate initiatives that may not be delivering results.

The collection of data and information across all aspects of the business provides key decision makers the necessary insight to accurately assess and measure existing and future projects. If certain projects are struggling to deliver, stakeholders have access to a wealth of information to help guide future business decisions.

  1. Creating a Portfolio Delivery Plan

Portfolio management is a collaborative function that impacts every business department. Defining the boundaries of a portfolio is essential when creating the plan, as it is ultimately what measures success or failure.

This helps align mutual goals across the organisation so everyone has a common objective to work towards. It ensures collaboration between departments, projects and programmes and aligns change initiatives with an organisation’s overall direction. It is also essential in keeping staff on target towards mutually beneficial goals.

It is the delivery plan that will help a growing business flourish.

  1. Mitigating Risks

Thorough monitoring promotes a successful plan, whereas regular reporting helps understand how a portfolio is performing. Both are crucial for a business to continue growing. This approach is particularly useful for driving growth and market expansion. It provides clear information should you need to readjust project deliverables. If an initiative is underperforming, it will be apparent and you can retire redundant or underperforming projects.

  1. Monitoring Progress

It is important to periodically review a portfolio’s performance and apply any lessons learnt from previous projects. It is little use finding a project is over budget six months in because of poor resource allocation and budgetary management.

Monitoring and evaluating the actual cost against the perceived cost is crucial for any portfolio manager. A business needs to be commercially, operationally and culturally aligned to grow; therefore, monitoring project deliverables and dependencies is essential for guaranteeing success.

Remember, portfolios and projects are dynamic, flexible company assets. They are constantly changing and adapting to the business’s objectives. If you put in place the fundamentals of portfolio management early on in a company’s history, you will be in a much stronger position for when growth does occur.

Esther McMorris, Founder, Nine Feet Tall