It would be nice to believe that there is one perfect and fail-safe method of managing multiple projects. However, we all know that there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to management. Yes, even the tried-and-true practices of project portfolio management need fine-tuning and tweaking.

Regardless of the size of your organization, the people you have working with you, and your commitment to organizational goals – there will be times when it seems that your approach to project portfolio management is not working. Don’t despair, you’re not alone with these struggles.

While we can’t tell you how to instantly fix the problems you’re facing, we do want to highlight the advantages and disadvantages of project portfolio management. It’s in knowing the advantages and disadvantages of your management system, that you’re better able to identify where you can make improvements.

No management system is flawless. It takes using the right tools, the right practices, and a degree of patience for you and your team to realize success. Remind yourself and your team that the project portfolio management system is one that requires subtle adjustments, constant analysis, and a clear focus on organizational goals.

Advantages of Project Portfolio Management

Project portfolio management can and will work for you and your team. It’s important to remember that the cornerstones of this management style are flexibility and accountability. These two factors ensure that your team is well-served and that organization success is front-and-center.

Whether you’re having doubts about your project portfolio management approach or are trying to sell upper management on making the transition, do not overlook these key advantages.

  • Risk management. No one likes to hear the word risk, however, it is inherent in all business decisions. With the right project portfolio management tools and approach, the fear that comes with risk is erased. Anticipate slow-downs, interruptions, and cost over-runs before they become a problem.
  • Smart decisions. You know that the panic-approach to decision making or constant flip-flopping with team focus is a recipe for disaster. Use the tangible and intangibles of project portfolio management to allow you to make smart decisions. With the right data, you can better manage people, priorities, resources, and budget.
  • Better productivity. Every team and team member wants to be productive. Project portfolio management lets you have deep insight into how the projects in your portfolio are operating. You can move people around, adjust project priorities, and solve problems before they become blockers. By eliminating barriers to success, everyone becomes more invested in the projects and the end-goals of the organization.
  • Project success. Particularly if you’re using an agile approach to project portfolio management, it’s easier to realize constant project success. The right tools, software, training, and leadership all contribute to giving your agile teams the guidance they need to be successful. Remember to choose a project portfolio management tool that gives you visual insight into successes, slow-downs, budgets, and resource distribution.

This list does a very good job of selling project portfolio management to everyone, even the die-hard skeptic. However, to experience real success with the management system, you must be aware of the disadvantages.

Disadvantages of Project Portfolio Management

There is no secret-sauce or magic pill that is going to keep your team moving steadily forward. But we do believe that in knowing the disadvantages of project portfolio management, you can be better prepared to experience success.

You cannot go into this with blinders on – know the disadvantages and be ready to conquer them before they become problems.

  • Finding the right people. The success of your projects rests on the shoulders of your people. If you don’t have the right people working for you on the right teams in the right roles, your projects are set-up for failure. A successful project portfolio manager must know her people and be ready to make hard decisions.
  • Setting priorities. Project portfolio management is based on having responsibility for multiple projects. However, there is little guidance in this management system on how to set your project priorities. You know that this approach is designed to help you align project priorities with organization priorities – but what if your organization’s priorities are constantly shifting or worse yet – not defined? This sets you up for failure. Know the priorities and then you can create the right project teams with the correct priorities.
  • Organization size. Some organizations are simply too small to thrive under the project portfolio management system. Take an honest look at your company size and the resources you have available – whiteboard how you would create teams and align project priorities. If you can’t do this, chances are high that this management approach is not the right fit. Don’t force project portfolio management on your organization – there are real instances when it simply doesn’t work.

The success in project portfolio management lies in keeping project goals in-check with the bigger picture goals of your organization. Recognize from day one that there will be challenges and that no management system is error-proof. Know the problems before they happen and be ready to adjust as needed.

Strategies for Project Portfolio Management Success

To be honest, we could write an entire blog on just success strategies. But, we do want to keep this article focused, so we’ll leave you with these bullet points on strategies for project portfolio management success.

  • Be invested.
  • Create manageable projects.
  • Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.
  • Use the right project portfolio management software.
  • Stop scope-creep.

We want to circle back to our very first point – no system is 100% safe and perfect. Take what you need from the project portfolio management approach and make it work for you and your teams. Use the tools, software, and leadership approach that works for your organization – don’t do what someone else does – choose what gives you success.