What it takes to be a Portfolio Manager

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Portfolio management is about making decisions about the future and putting them into action. As portfolio managers you will be involved in the implementation of strategy through the realisation of project and program delivery. For this reason portfolio managers need to develop their business skills and a key element of this is about understanding the components and processes associated with strategic and governance management.

Here at Turlon & Associates (www.turlon.com) we work with a diverse group of organisations and individuals to provide knowledge in this area to help relate strategy to the work of the organisation. We start this process by understanding a few factors and then adhere to the following process to develop portfolio managers by: –

  • exploring the factors that influence strategy in an organisation, particularly the environment, the firm’
    s capabilities and the expectations of stakeholders,
  • we then consider how organisations formulate strategic choices at the business and corporate levels, and convert those into actions for implementation.
  • we look at how organisations link project strategy to corporate strategy, and finish by considering how you can formulate strategies for implementing your projects.
  • finally, the process of portfolio execution is presented and this is then used to develop the portfolio managers competencies.

This is of benefit to certain portfolio managers who want to understand how to manage portfolios and the application of portfolio management in the workplace. This process is not fool-proof and is a simple step by step approach to showing portfolio managers how to develop and understand the working of the competency within the respective organisation and methodology at work

So what do we expect from a portfolio manager, well here are some of the traits or characteristics that come to mind

  • be able to understand the strategic context of portfolio, program, project and change management and willingness to take the lead in bringing all of this together for the organisation
  • defining the role of a portfolio manager in managing strategy and ensuring this is understood with the program and organisation context
  • define the steps to establishing and managing a portfolio of initiatives from the initiation to the realisation of the strategy and reporting this to the steering / executive sponsorship group.
  • understand and define portfolio governance and relate this from the executive sponsorship back to the program / project governance.
  • define the practice of portfolio management using an agreed set of criteria that can then be applied to all further initiatives as they are identified
  • report and control of programs in an effective manner that utilise best practice reporting tools for portfolio management

Portfolio-Based program and project management is a natural outgrowth of solid strategic planning and is something that identifies the projects and programs needed to drive a business from its current state towards the achievement of its vision. Without a comprehensive strategic planning process, it is difficult for many firms to make the leap into Portfolio management, let alone understand the role of the portfolio manager.

Even with good strategic planning practices in place, many businesses fail with the role and the presence of portfolio management. When it comes to properly identifying and scoping the role and the presence of portfolio we lack insightfulness into the initiatives to incorporate into their strategic plans. It seems that translating “gaps” into initiatives is an unnatural way of thinking for may senior leaders. But, this must happen to create a portfolio centred culture. Here, again, the use of outside, expert advice can help the leadership learn how to properly determine the role of portfolio management and what to do. Be sure to make contact with the team at Turlon (www.turlon.com) for more information on our portfolio management workshops.

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