Strategic Portfolio Management A smart, realistic and relatively fast way to gain sustainable competitive advantage.

Stephen J. Garfein President, RPM Systems Corporation

Project Management helps ensure that projects are done right. Strategic Portfolio Management determines the very future of the enterprise; its competitiveness, and ultimately, its survival. Think of strategic successes such as Microsoft, Costco, and Starbucks and strategic failures such as TWA, Digital Equipment, and WordPerfect. Each had a strategic portfolio. Each made strategic decisions on what to place in their portfolios and how to execute. Some have thrived. Some have not survived. This paper provides a framework for developing and maintaining an enterprise-wide Strategic Portfolio Management capability. This paper defines and champions Strategic Portfolio Management which the author believes is the natural, evolutionary next step made possible by the foundational enterprise project management (EPM) tools and process currently being implemented in many organizations.

Strategic Portfolio Management Defined
Strategic Portfolio Management is a closed-loop process encompassing all enterprise investments. To illustrate, a company’s portfolio options might include funding internally generated ideas, buying other companies, returning cash to stockholders as dividends, modernizing facilities, implementing a major IT system, increasing employee compensation, and paying down debt. Deciding which of the options to invest in is a core responsibility of company’s executive leadership team. This paper presents a process for making those investment decisions and then translating the resulting strategic portfolio into great performance. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Presents three brief case studies illustrating various aspects of Strategic Portfolio Management. Describes the AIM Process for developing and managing a strategic portfolio. Outlines the project management prerequisites for Strategic Portfolio Management. Discusses the importance of the leadership factor in Strategic Portfolio Management implementation. Offers seven best practices for translating great strategy into great performance.

Strategic Portfolio Management can be a vehicle for transformation and breakthrough. Bill Davidson writes in his book Breakthrough, "Think of breakthrough as enterprise-scale innovation—significant enough to shape an emerging enterprise or to reform the core of an existing organization"(2004, p. 4). Breakthroughs typically result from large-scale, long-term initiatives that use advanced technologies and radical process innovations to achieve leaps in operating performance, financial results, and market position as outlined in the following Apache, Yellow Roadway, and Boeing examples. Enterprise project management (EPM) capability is an essential component of Strategic Portfolio Management. Exhibit 1 depicts the author’s view of the emerging role of Strategic Portfolio Management that it is built on the foundation of enterprise project management. Exhibit 2 lists currently available EPM solutions. There are numerous enterprise project management solutions available today. All require significant tailoring and staff training to be successful. However, once an enterprise makes the investment and masters the EPM toolset, it is ready to use it strategically, as described in the paper. The Strategic Portfolio Management process is software independent and can be implemented with any of the solutions listed.

© 2004, Stephen Garfein Originally published as part of the Proceedings 2005 PMI Global Congress – Toronto, Canada


Strategic Portfolio Management is built on a foundation of enterprise project management (EPM). Yellow Roadway. and the Boeing 787 Case Study 1: The Apache Helicopter Program and a Bet the Company Strategy The Apache helicopter was designed and built by what was then Howard Hughes’ Helicopter Company. The three examples are: 1) the Apache Helicopter. Army plans to keep its fleet of Apache attack helicopters in service through 2030. it became clear the Less Is More model also applied to the other two case studies – just an interesting coincidence or a useful strategic concept? Apache Helicopter The U.Exhibit 1. • • • • • • • • • • ChangePoint IBM EPM Niku Open Workbench Oracle EPM Microsoft Project EPM PacificEdge EPM PeopleSoft PlanView EPM Primavera SAP Exhibit 2: Enterprise Project Management Solutions commercially available in 2005 Part 1. developed and marketed using the concept of “Less is More. Canada –2– . Howard Hughes (and his © 2004. It is a breathtaking example of wildly successful strategic decision-making. Three case studies: The Apache Helicopter. 2) Yellow Roadway Corporation. (Army Program Manager. and 3) the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner (Exhibit 3) and will ask the question: What will be impact of high-quality.S. As this paper was written. Stephen Garfein Originally published as part of the Proceedings 2005 PMI Global Congress – Toronto. Before the Apache. low-cost.500 new aircraft over 20 years. when the oldest will be about 50 years old. 2000) “Less is More” Yellow Roadway Continuous day-to-day operations Microsoft Communicator Boeing 787 Less is More? The new Boeing 787 targets a market expected to reach 3. valued at more that $400 billion. Case Studies This paper uses three brief case studies to illustrate the application of Strategic Portfolio Management.” But more on that later. (2004 Annual Report) 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2030 2040 Exhibit 3. Internet-based collaboration tools on the demand for passenger aircraft? The Apache was designed.

Lastly Exhibit 7 also looks at the Apache as one component in the company’s strategic portfolio. Exhibit 5. The Apache was the largest component in the Helicopter Company’s strategic portfolio. (Here there were two portfolios operating: the Army’s development portfolio had to fit within the overall DoD portfolio.heirs. slow design flown by Bell Helicopter (top) with the four-blade. and the second from other Army programs. and they have been the most admired company in their field for three years running according to FORTUNE magazine (Exhibit 8). The winning Apache design by Hughes Helicopter Company employed a design philosophy of “Less Is More. all competing for a finite development budget. Apache design by Hughes Helicopter Company (bottom photo) Bell Helicopter (top photo). Apache’s competition for development funding. The enterprise viewed as an aggregation of projects. agile design by Hughes that ultimately won the flyoff competition. One element of this success story © 2004. The Apache had two types of competition: The first from other branches of the military for the basic mission. There were no takers. Exhibit 6. Exhibit 4 contrasts the two-rotor blade.) Exhibit 6 provides a model showing some of the external and internal factors impacting product design acting on the Apache helicopter program. heavy. Apache strategic model Case Study 2: Yellow Roadway Corporation The Yellow Roadway stock price more than doubled in two years.” Bell Helicopter was significantly heavier and slower. after his death in 1976) had tried to give away the Helicopter Company to other aerospace companies. Hughes’ heirs were able to sell the company for half a billion dollars. Exhibit 5 portrays the competitive environment at the time. The entire Helicopter Company was viewed as an aggregation of projects and programs by an organization that was then called Financial Planning and Control but today would probably be called an Enterprise Program Management Office Exhibit 4. Apache Team Facilities Information Technology Apache Program Enterprise Program Management Office (EPO) R&D AH-6 Little Bird Commercial Model 500 Commercial Model 300 Chain Gun Exhibit 7. but as shown in Exhibit 7 there were a number of other important components in the portfolio. Stephen Garfein Originally published as part of the Proceedings 2005 PMI Global Congress – Toronto. Canada –3– . After winning the Apache production contract in 1984.

Microsoft Communicator. and low cost video conferencing have on businessrelated air travel? How many 550-seat aircraft will the marketplace demand? Exhibit 9. What effect will these real-time. Physical Travel: The Boeing 787 Dreamliner versus the 550 passenger Airbus A380. This growth at Yellow Roadway was facilitated by a robust information technology infrastructure that included an EPM solution. seamless communications is becoming an essential tool in support of Strategic Portfolio Management. today there are one tenth that number and Yellow Roadway is number one. easy to use. Exhibit 8. Over the next ten years what impact will high-speed Internet access. And these bets by Airbus and Boeing could not be more different: Airbus has built and is conducting initial flight © 2004. Less Is More in this case translated to fewer carriers equals greater market share. Case Study 3: The Boeing 787 versus the Airbus A380 – A Bet the Company Decision? With the explosive growth of virtual teams in different locations and widely separated time zones. Yellow Roadway stock price doubled in two years. Internet-based. Exhibit 10 above contrasts the size of the two aircraft. low cost communications applications have on business travel? In the last century business travel on steamships and railroads was replaced by air travel. and Yellow has been number one in its field for three years running on the FORTUNE list of most admired companies. Exhibit 10. Exhibit 9 shows an example of a collaboration tool. Another factor has been the “Less Is More” philosophy that has been in operation in the trucking industry. Canada –4– . Stephen Garfein Originally published as part of the Proceedings 2005 PMI Global Congress – Toronto. As in the Apache Helicopter case. Virtual Travel: Microsoft Communicator. and experienced project managers.has been leadership provided by the executive leadership team (see The Leadership Factor discussed later in Part 5 of this paper). The Yellow Roadway strategic portfolio was created using the AIM process described in Part 2 of this paper. Both Boeing and Airbus have made huge strategic portfolio bets on what the future of airline travel will look like. collaboration tools. an Enterprise Program Management Office (EPMO). both Boeing and Airbus had to place these bets while taking into account all the other opportunities and demands in their strategic portfolios. twenty-five years ago the were sixty carriers.

The large wingspan requires most airports to widen taxiways so that two planes can pass each other. Developing and Managing a Strategic Portfolio: The AIM Process According to Jack Welch. And very important from a financial perspective. you pick a general direction and implement like hell. however the upside is that the B787 will use 20 percent less fuel than any other airplane of its size and will be half the cost of the A 380. In real life. a brief synopsis follows: The Airbus A380 has significant risks. and execution. This overrun has hurt Airbus’ ability to investment in a B787 competitor. however. readiness. but it requires an ongoing and firm commitment by the executive leadership team throughout the entire cycle of strategy formulation. Initiative Articulation. below. Stephen Garfein Originally published as part of the Proceedings 2005 PMI Global Congress – Toronto. These delays have also caused a significant cost overrun of nearly $1. Experience has shown this framework is an effective tool to develop and implement strategic plans.tests of its 550 passenger. Boeing is building a single deck aircraft named the Dreamliner with half the passenger capacity. the engine design minimizes risk for leasing companies. totally dynamic game. 2) translate it into actionable initiatives and. Adequately comparing the market potential of these two aircraft is beyond the scope of this paper. Canada –5– . It will provide breakthroughs in cabin comfort for its passengers and will permit economical direct point-to-point travel. The major risk for Boeing is the Dreamliner’s large-scale composite fuselage structure. Part 2. not the hub and spoke travel system required to fill a 550-seat aircraft. p. two-deck A380. 138) The questions are 1) how do you pick that general direction. and Projectization of Initiatives. A handful of airports at major international hubs are investing millions of dollars. if the aircraft is leased to another airline. in the words of Jack Welch. The right side of the diagram shows the standard project management functions and will not be addressed at any length in the paper. you can’t be paranoid enough.” (Welch. Difficulties in manufacturing have delayed deliveries and pushed service entry back by at least a year to late 2006 or early 2007. Instead we will address the three boxes in the diagram labeled Preferred Future State.5 billion driving up unit cost by about 25%. the remainder of this paper will provide a Strategic Portfolio Management framework. 3) implement like hell with assurance that you are meeting your strategic objectives? The Mesa Research AIM process is depicted in Exhibit 11. “When it comes to peering into the future. Many airports must add additional jetway bridges to accommodate the large number of passengers and baggage handling systems also need to be upgraded. 2005. Now that we have briefly looked at some of the strategic aspects of preceding examples. © 2004. I know that strategy is a living breathing.

The Strategic Portfolio Management process is a closed loop system that links enterprise strategy investments to project results and provides performance metrics feedback on strategic outcomes to the executive leadership team. Stephen Garfein Originally published as part of the Proceedings 2005 PMI Global Congress – Toronto. The AIM cycle process as described in this paper was developed by the Mesa Research Group. Exhibit 12 depicts a typical nine-month implementation schedule. LLC. © 2004. however implementation of the resulting inititiaves can span a number of years. Exhibit 12. The AIM process can be implemented relatively quickly. LLC. This can be accomplished concurrently with implementation of an EPM system. The AIM implementation schedule. The closed-loop Strategic Portfolio Management process. Exhibit 13. (Exhibit 13). Source: Mesa Research Group. Used with permission.Strategy Formulation Strategy Formulation Program Design and Facilitation Strategy Foundation Assess Strategic Identity Assess Organizational Identity Formalize Corporate Identity Preferred Future State Readiness Readiness Readiness Planning Initiative Articulation Projectization of Initiatives Execution Execution Launch and Execution Support Assignments & Accountability Resource Allocation and Prioritization Enterprise Project Management Project Management Transformation Assessment Metrics and Milestones Business Case Validation Business & Financial Planning Performance Monitoring Organizational Strategy Senior Team Alignment Communication People Strategy Leadership Development Enterprise Development Performance Management System Staffing and Training Performance Management Exhibit 11. Canada –6– . The AIM framework for Strategic Portfolio Management. if one is not already in place.

Initiative Articulation Diagram. Exhibit 17. The Opportunity Profile Workbook Exhibit 16. financial. they can be designed to deliver significant growth and change in the company’s market coverage. An enterprise initiative diagram is shown in Exhibit 14. The process is supported by an enterprise project management system (EPM) and a business metrics solution. capabilities. Each enterprise initiative is assigned to an Initiative Team to develop a roadmap (the diagram shown above) to reach the preferred future state. The workbook is used to prepare strategic. Stephen Garfein Originally published as part of the Proceedings 2005 PMI Global Congress – Toronto. Exhibit 17. is completed by the Initiative Team for each candidate project. Exhibit 15. 2) the current state. These assessments are summarized and prioritized in a database that provides the executive leadership team with the weighted value of each candidate project. Some of these initiative components will be selected for funding by the executive leadership team and go on to become programs and projects. . infrastructure. and financial performance. and 3) the components required to achieve the preferred future state – each component may in turn develop into one or more projects. © 2004. Canada –7– . competitiveness. Each core initiative is sponsored by a member of the executive leadership team. and risk assessments for each proposed project. Enterprise initiatives represent a long term strategic undertaking that supports the company’s vision and mission These initiatives can have a wide range of objectives. An overview of a typical Strategic Portfolio Management implementation is shown below in Exhibit 18. offerings. Other EPM solutions were listed earlier in Exhibit 2. Initiatives to achieve a preferred future state. depending on its opportunity profile. market position. Two tools have been developed to facilitate this initiative development and filtering process. The Initiative Articulation Workbook The Initiative Articulation Workbook (Exhibit 16) is used by each initiative team to describe: 1) the preferred future state.Exhibit 14. In this example the EPM solution is based on Microsoft Project Server. Each bubble in the diagram shown in Exhibit 15 represents a component that is needed to achieve the preferred future state. The Opportunity Profile Workbook. The executive leadership team uses this portfolio of candidate projects as one of the factors in making their investment decisions.

Strategic Program Management is built on a strong project management foundation. Canada –8– . an enterprise program management office (EPMO). Part 3. Project Management Prerequisites for Sustainable SPM A solid project management foundation is a prerequisite to successful Strategic Portfolio Management (Exhibit 19) In addition. the executive leadership team will find it difficult to develop initiatives and assure their successful execution. Emphasis on collaboration. Overview of AIM process implementation. Focus on effectiveness and innovation. customers and outcomes. Adaptive and innovative practices. Thought leadership. Based on guiding principles. Business driven. Views organization as a “complex ecology”. Skills needed for Strategic Portfolio Management are an outgrowth of the project management skill set (Exhibit 20) The Foundation Mature PMO Establishes and manages collaborative processes for project portfolio management Aligns projects with business strategy Establishes project business case review gateways Implements a process for resource review and allocation Develops methods to prioritize projects Enterprise PMO Creates a comprehensive project portfolio management capability Convenes formal portfolio review boards or other authority on a recurring basis Enables real-time project data use in decision making Establishes early project termination process Strategic Portfolio Management Focus on strategic and cultural issues. is also essential to success. Art and craft of project management. Adaptable and flexible (agile) methods and practices. © 2004. whether it is actually called that or not. Provides tools similar to a "compass“ that show the direction.Exhibit 18. Focus on end products. follow rules and improvise if needed. Without a central EPMO-type capability. Stephen Garfein Originally published as part of the Proceedings 2005 PMI Global Congress – Toronto. Basic PMO Project Office Provides project data to a higher level PMO or other oversight authority for consolidation Introduces the fundamental concepts of project portfolio management Develops a process and criteria for project selections Establishes senior managers project reviews Compiles and compares performance data from multiple projects Exhibit 19.

Views organization as a “complex ecology”. Thought leadership. 8. Science of project management. Exhibit 20. 10. Adaptive and innovative practices. Internal process focused. 1. Will you intervene when necessary to remove roadblocks and obstacles to breakthrough? 5. repeatable. Can you establish and manage 50 to 100 personal contracts with key executives who will deliver the key components of the strategy? 10. Adaptable and flexible (agile) methods and practices. 6. Strategic Portfolio Management Focus on strategic and cultural issues. Defined. The critical question is does senior leadership have the characteristics and qualities essential to ensure success? Here are questions to help you determine whether an organization’s leadership has what it takes. Art and craft of project management. Stephen Garfein Originally published as part of the Proceedings 2005 PMI Global Congress – Toronto.” 6. Examples of strategic portfolio leadership. Can you ensure that the financial and organizational resources necessary to deliver breakthrough will be available as needed? 7. Can you stay focused on and committed to the same core strategic program for a minimum of three to five years? For the rest of your career? 4. Can you align the senior team to fully support that strategy? 3. Canada –9– . Focus mostly on tactical issues. Views organization as a “complex machine”. 7. customers and outcomes. Focus on end products. 2. Emphasis on monitoring and control. “Less is More. Provides tools similar to a "compass“ that show the direction. © 2004. perhaps the next most critical function of any executive leadership team to set the stage for great execution.Project Management 1. Process driven. if necessary. Can you make the painstaking effort to develop a highly articulated master plan for your strategy? 2. Exhibit 21 shows executives from the preceding case studies in Strategic Portfolio Management. Process leadership. Can you give the same speech hundreds of times? After investment decisions are made. follow rules. Focus on effectiveness and innovation. Business driven. Standard (heavy) methods and practices. Will you and your team monitor every gate in every series circuit in the organization to identify and address breakdowns? 8.” “A gutsy. follow rules and improvise if needed. The evolution from project management to Strategic Portfolio Management. Part 4.” “Synergies. Would you. Based on rules. Can you balance day-to-day demands and distractions with your commitment to the breakthrough program? Exhibit 21. Based on guiding principles. Focus on efficiency. 9. 3. managed and optimized practices. Provides tools similar to a precise "map" to follow. 12. The Leadership Factor The success of Strategic Portfolio Management is dependent on the ability of executive leadership to work together as a team. Emphasis on collaboration. 5. bet-the-company move. remove your closest colleagues from their positions if they became the principal barrier to successful execution of the breakthrough strategy? 9. 4. 11.

lower levels in the organization cannot put in place executable plans. speak a common language.Part 5. Canada – 10 – . the link between strategy and performance can’t be drawn because the strategy itself is not sufficiently concrete. To be productive. Without a rigorous framework to link a business’s performance in the product markets with its financial performance over time. 1: Keep it simple. those elements are factored into the company’s two-year plan (one year is usually too short a time horizon). high-performing companies avoid long. not forecasts High-performing companies want their forecasts to drive the work they actually do. provides a framework to help each Initiative Team quantify their assumptions. The Opportunity Profile Workbook. 3: Use a rigorous framework. Separating the process of building assumptions from that of preparing financial projections helps to ground the business unit–corporate center dialogue in economic reality. Strategy is often confused with vision or aspiration. To deliver any strategy successfully. In short. An integral part of the AIM process involves summarizing all opportunities in terms of the strategic value. marketing. The AIM process described earlier in this paper provides a framework to help the Initiative teams translate strategic initiatives into concrete. Challenging business units about when new resources need to be in place focuses the planning dialogue on what actually needs to happen across the company in order to execute each unit’s strategy. The AIM process provides that rigorous framework. a framework tailored to the specific requirements of the enterprise. Best Practices in Translating Great Strategy into Great Performance Companies typically realize only about 60% of their strategies’ potential value because of defects and breakdowns in planning and execution (Kendall & Rollins. and risk. financial return. By being clear about what the strategy is and isn’t keeps the enterprise headed in the same direction. Strategy is a highly abstract concept at most companies. The organization must continue to resource its ongoing operations. it is very difficult for top management to ascertain whether the financial projections that accompany a business unit’s strategic plan are reasonable and realistically achievable. Application of the following seven best practices will help the executive leadership team maximize the returns on their portfolio investments. a few key steps must be taken—at the right time and in the right way—to meet planned performance. resource availability is almost always a significant challenge. they have to ensure that the assumptions underlying their long-term plans reflect both the real economics of their markets and the performance experience of the company relative to competitors. managers must make thousands of tactical decisions and put them into action. This is why an enterprise project management (EPM) system is essential to success of a Strategic Portfolio Management implementation. To start off the planning and execution process on the right track. What is critical is that the framework establishes a common language for the dialogue between the corporate center and the units—one that the strategy. 2003). plus the new strategic initiatives. Because the AIM process focuses on strategic opportunities. These assessments aid the executive © 2004. 4: Discuss resource deployments early. To make this possible. 5: Clearly identify priorities. actionable projects. But without a clear sense of where the company is headed and why. But not all tactics are equally important. Resource and action planning becomes more effective. 2: Debate assumptions. In most instances. Stephen Garfein Originally published as part of the Proceedings 2005 PMI Global Congress – Toronto. make it concrete. and accountabilities are easier to specify. drawn-out descriptions of lofty goals and instead stick to clear language describing their course of action. Companies can create more realistic forecasts and more executable plans if they discuss up front the level and timing of critical resource deployments. and finance teams all understand and use. the dialogue between the corporate center and the business units about market trends and assumptions must be conducted within a rigorous framework. Fact-based discussion resulting from this kind of approach builds trust between the top team and each unit and removes barriers to fast and effective execution. Once agreement is reached on resource allocation and timing at the unit level. an integral part of the AIM process. Early identification of resource demand and potential bottlenecks is required to maintaining initiative momentum. Strategy is not something that can be easily communicated or translated into action.

and new aircraft orders). At the end of the day. Integral to AIM framework. FL: J. J. Ross Publishing. R. their plans. are the people strategy and performance management components to link strategy to plans to management performance . In turn. This real-time information allows management to spot and remedy flaws in the plan and shortfalls in execution—and to avoid confusing one with the other. communicate relentlessly. to achieve this real-time performance tracking: They are an EPM system and an EPMO. Jack Welch It’s All in the Sauce. I. as they turn their strategies into great performance. Canada – 11 – . They continuously monitor their resource deployment patterns and their results against plan. C. July-August) Turning Great Strategy into Great Performance. References Davidson. Furthermore. No list of rules on this topic would be complete without a reminder that companies have to motivate and develop their staffs. 6: Continuously monitor performance. (2004). Conclusion Strategic Portfolio Management is the next big opportunity to achieve and sustain competitive advantage. (2003) Advanced project portfolio management and the PMO. B. (2005. Under CEO Alan Mulally. Two components are essential. High-performing companies use real-time performance tracking. using continuous feedback to reset planning assumptions and reallocate resources. (2005. BCA’s leadership team can make course corrections each week rather than waiting for quarterly results to roll in. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. Breakthrough: How great companies set Outrageous objectives and achieve them. An enterprise program management office (EPMO) is usually required to provide this type of enterprise-wide integration. and ultimately their performance often experience a cultural multiplier effect. 7: Reward and develop execution capabilities. Lauderdale. and hold managers accountable for executing against their commitments. Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ leadership team holds weekly business performance reviews to track the division’s results against its multiyear plan. April 18. shown in earlier in Exhibit 11. Harvard Business Review 83 (7) 64-73 © 2004. where events outside anyone’s control can render a plan irrelevant. Large enterprises cannot control implementation from headquarters. G. Welch. individual managers who keep their commitments are rewarded—with faster progression and fatter paychecks—reinforcing the behaviors needed to drive any company forward. Strategic Portfolio Management must be built on top of a robust enterprise project management system that the organization is trained to use and actually finds indispensable for day-to-day management. C.). & Steele. By tracking the deployment of resources as a leading indicator of whether a plan is being executed effectively. M. but can work with the Initiative Teams to agree on the priorities. S. Continuous monitoring of performance is particularly important in highly volatile industries. Over time. Inc. Mankins. [Review of the book ] Fortune 151(8) 138 Kendall.. airline yields and load factors. Ft. Stephen Garfein Originally published as part of the Proceedings 2005 PMI Global Congress – Toronto. To be successful. in one form or another. BCA is better able to develop and deploy effective countermeasures when events throw its plans off course. & Rollins. Companies that create tight links between their strategies. by proactively monitoring the primary drivers of performance (such as passenger traffic patterns. Leading companies make these priorities explicit so that each executive has a clear sense of where to direct his or her efforts. Hoboken. no process can be better than the people who have to make it work. leaders in these organizations become much more confident in their own capabilities and much more willing to make the stretch commitments that inspire and transform large companies.leadership team in clearly identifying priorities – which projects will be funded and in what order.

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