Project portfolio health check – how do the projects perform and how are the resources utilized?

Project portfolio health check

It is often hard for a management team to get an up to date overview of the company’s projects. The projects tend to slip through the grip because the checkpoints are few and far between, the projects generate largely “invisible” results, and resources go in and out of projects over time.

What projects are going on and how far have they come? Do they keep to their schedules? How do we utilize our resources? How has our ability to perform development work evolved? Have we improved delivery precision and shorten our development time? In order to answer these and similar questions, most companies regularly follow a number of key performance indicators. But the delay and lack of precision in the data make the work difficult for the management team. The sense of control doesn’t appear. But that is now about to change.

With the Parmatur App (Google Play), the management team (the portfolio team) has access to up-to-date data at their coordination pulse meeting, based on weekly reports from the projects. The app provides the management team with compiled information that allows them to be proactive. Governance and control of a project portfolio is now reality.

Project portfolio health check

In the Parmatur App, the project portfolio health check is summarized in two views: Portfolio Overview and Portfolio Summary.

Parmatur App – Portfolio Overview for Project portfolio health check

The Portfolio Overview shows all ongoing projects and their key data. How far have the projects come? Are the projects on time? How much resources do each project use? This information gives the management team knowledge about what is happening in the projects right now. It also gives them early warnings when projects start to slip behind schedule and they thus risk being delayed.

The Project portfolio health check information in the Parmatur App, along with the visual information displayed in the Pulse Room, helps the management team identify areas where they must act. Why is a certain project late? Is the solution they are working on too complex; is there an alternative route? Are there systematic barriers built into the business that can only be solved by the management team?

Parmatur App – Portfolio Summary for Project portfolio health check

The Portfolio Summary shows key figures for the entire project business.

Resource utilization: How many resources are available, how many are reserved by the projects in the portfolio and how many have been used during the last week? This information shows if the business is over-loaded, or maybe under-loaded. If the project portfolio is not balanced, this is evident both in terms of the number of projects in the portfolio and how the resources are currently utilized.

It is my opinion is that over time, the business should be somewhat under-loaded in order to handle unexpected events and problems. However, if the portfolio is constantly under-loaded and the projects are still complaining about lack of resources, this should be investigated further. The resource pool is obviously leaking, so where do all the resources go?

Completion rate: How many sub-results are planned to be completed per week in the portfolio, and how many have actually been completed. In order for the projects to make progress, sub-results must constantly be finalized. If the present value differs from planned, this should be investigated with priority, especially if it is a downward trend. Are there any systematic obstacles that prevent the projects from completing their sub-results?

Portfolio turnover rate: How often are projects replaced in the portfolio? If the projects have an average lead time of 6 months, the turnover rate is 2. This key figure corresponds to the stock turnover rate. In a warehouse, low inventory turnover means that there are slow movers that sell little or not at all. In a project portfolio, a low value indicates that there are projects that have been going on for a long time. These projects should be questioned. Why are they taking so long?

If a project already from the beginning presents a long and complex plan, it is probably the wrong approach. The same applies if a project starts to be significantly delayed. Slow movers in a warehouse should be removed; they have already lost their value when the turnover rate went down. Similarly, projects that have long lead times should be called into question. Are these projects in fact a loss that the company should take already today? Should those projects be terminated now?

Delivery precision: The figure shows the ability to carry out projects within a given time frame. In each project, there is a balance between fully achieving the product goals and keeping a time schedule. This balance is maintained through continuous discussions at the pulse meetings and through demonstrations of completed sub-results and handover points.

Closing lead time: How long time does it take to close the projects after the final sub-results have been completed? It’s one thing to get all sub-results done, but another thing to really close the project. There may be a lot of residual points left. Allowing the work to continue in a project without goals and plans is to work without control and governance. Instead, put together a residual list, which sometimes also contains a wish list with features to be added. Then start a new project with a well-defined project goal and synchronization plan. That will be more efficient and you will avoid uncontrolled and costly scope creeps.

You can do regularly project portfolio health check using pen and paper, however, an App make it easier.

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