Andy Parsons

Andy Parsons

September 2018

Portfolio Management

In our great profession we specialise in the delivery of portfolios of change. However, if we look in the mirror every now and again, we'll see we often fall into the trap of evangelising project/PMO methodologies and practices that we learn about in training courses, read in text books and hear at industry conferences and exhibitions. In our experience this can create a significant misalignment between us and our biggest customers – the Executive team.

Execs tend to make up the sponsors, business owners and key stakeholders across the portfolio, but it is worth remembering that up to 70% of your exec team probably are naturally “Just Do It!” They're unlikely to be interested in project terminology and methodology, in fact it turns many of them completely off.

So if you are a Portfolio Manager, a PMO Lead or you head up transformation and change, it is worth thinking hard about what you are offering your most important customers. You need to feed the exec ‘engine’ fuel that allows it to run smoothly.

Here's our guide to five of the most common exec demands and how to meet them:

1. “Give me concise - no essays

  • Adopt ‘tweet-sized' executive commentary from which they can get 80% of the messaging in 20% of the words
  • Create reporting templates that allow for this new look ‘tweet-sized' commentary

2. “I want pictures - not text”

  • Ensure your regular reporting is as visually stimulating as possible. Cut the waffle and give the exec team concise, visual, engaging updates – if they want the detail, they will ask for it
  • Automate visualisation to ensure PMOs aren't wasting time on formatting. Remember, they are not paid to be good at presentations, they are paid to be good at delivery so make sure you maximise the latter

Check out our video to discover how an executive reporting tool can provide simple, visual information on the status of a portfolio:



3. "Give me consistent report formats" 

  • Use consistent presentation formats for portfolio reporting so that Execs find it easy to navigate portfolio reports and get used to looking in the places they get the info they want
  • Using consistent formats forces the people inputting reports to articulate more clearly and avoids Exec frustration trying to find what they want to see

4. “There's too much information here"

  • It's important to enable execs to personalise the data they want to see. Give them filters that allow them to look at the projects within the portfolio that they are most concerned about right now – and let them filter by priority/risk level

5. “Give me simple, fast and easy”

  • Execs are short on time, and tend to have 30 minutes on a train or in an airport to review the key information - so keeping it simple is key
  • Be creative about helping execs easily access portfolio information. There are much more engaging ways than sending the portfolio report out as a weekly email attachment on a spreadsheet – it just won’t get widely read

It's vital to understand these key exec demands and be able to act upon delivering against them. Achieve that, and you'll be well on the way to improving your level of engagement and discussions with senior leaders.

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