Posted by: kerrywills | October 6, 2017

Portfolio Management as a hub-and-spoke function


I have managed many programs and in the last few years have focused on managing portfolios of programs. Beyond the size of scope I find that a major difference in managing portfolios is that they are more of a “hub-and-spoke” model than the “centrally manage” model of programs. In programs, there is generally one main roadmap and set of goals which permeates all work and so a centralized management model makes sense. Portfolios tend to be more federated with several roadmaps, several programs and several goals with some interdependencies between them.

Portfolios should have some accountabilities centrally managed (the hub) and some accountabilities federated out to the programs and teams. For example, reporting on overall status, financials and risks should be centralized for major items but each program should also have its own accountability to manage their detailed items. Some functions make more sense to manage centrally such as budgets which can be traded off between programs. On the other hand, having centralized governance over every risk or defect would slow down the delivery.

So I am not sure that there is a “right” answer but we do need to recognize that Portfolios should operate differently than programs and determine the optimal model for aggregation and accountability.

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