A portfolio sits above Operations and Projects in an IT organization. It encompasses all IT operations and projects that are being undertaken by the IT organization in a concerted and coordinated fashion. In order to do so effectively however a methodology must be in place. As such, we introduce the basic lifecycle of a portfolio: portfolio planning and design, assessment and communication, and rebalancing. On top of this lifecycle sits portfolio governance as well as monitoring and control. Each is discussed separately in detail. Portfolio planning and design refers to the process creating and defining a portfolio and its different components. It must be pointed out, that the ultimate portfolio manager in an IT organization is the CIO, and it is she that concerts the creation of the portfolio components, assigns resources and assets, and is ultimately responsible for them and their design. Portfolio components may also have interdependencies between them (projects leading to other projects), so that these may also be managed using Project Management Software tools. Portfolio assessment and communicating phase refers to the manner in which the portfolio components will be measured for relevance in an organization. Traditional measures used such as IRR, NPV, etc., work for more tangible projects and portfolios, however for IT, it is hard to come up with such measures, such that it is really intangibles that become part of their assessment. A technique on how to “measure” these intangibles is illustrated by means of causal relationship to company objectives. Lastly, it is important that these measurements be communicated to the different stakeholders on a regular basis for them to understand the progress. Portfolio rebalancing refers to the reprioritization of components and reassignment of their resources, definition of new, and termination of existing portfolio components due to the ever-changing strategy and priorities and of the organization which defines in turn what IT components should be prioritized. Sitting on top of all this is portfolio governance, which regulates the type of documentation that must be completed for each component, regularity, as well as the required management guidelines: releases, change requests, additional funding, and risk registry. Portfolio Monitoring and Control are the regular activities defined by the portfolio manager so as to be able to monitor and ensure that the portfolio components and are running smoothly, including their alignment to company strategy, timeliness, within budget, as well as being able to deliver their intended benefits. It also discusses the different venues and tools used for monitoring and control, as well as the use of PDCA to continually improve this process.
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