I have now worked in a few large corporations and consulted at several more. I find the role of a Portfolio Manager varies across divisions and companies. Some Portfolio Managers are actively engaged in their projects by conducting reviews, getting into the details of the projects, and running down issues. Others are very ‘passive’ and focus on making sure that status documents are updated and other administration is complete.
I personally believe that the Portfolio Management function is one of the most important, yet under-utilized function in a company. A lot of emphasis is placed on Project and Program Management but then companies lose diligence in managing these projects and programs as a true portfolio. A Portfolio Manager should be a delivery-focused professional who is ultimately accountable for the successful execution of the overall portfolio. This would include such functions as…
- Work intake and work initiation
- Facilitate phase gate and quality reviews
- Help with issues on the projects/programs
- Facilitate resource management (demand meets supply)
- Metrics and tracking of progress
I continue to see Portfolio Managers more as assistants to Senior Management focused on operations and administration. As a result the people who fill these roles are not delivery people with execution backgrounds and therefore can’t relate or help the Project Managers.
Portfolio Management should be a function that Project Managers get promoted into. These are people with empirical backgrounds in delivery who can coach their team, monitor progress, and ultimately ensure the successful management of the portfolio.