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Thomas Quandt

How can project managers contribute to successful project portfolio management (PPM)?

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Project portfolio management is not a topic that can be managed by a single person but it needs input from a number of different stakeholders in your organization (and even externally).

While the role of a portfolio manager is quite clear to everyone, I would like to ask you, what your opinion is on the role of a project manager in portfolio management. Is PPM without project managers possible at all? How can you ensure an active contribution? What is needed and what is not necessary to increase the quality of your PPM process? Let’s discuss!

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In large and dynamic project portfolios, I believe the role of individual Project Managers is absolutely critical. They need to ensure the data being analyzed in the portfolio is closely aligned to their detailed project plans such as; resource demand, critical project milestones, large expenses, etc. As these things shift throughout the life of a project, they must be updated in the portfolio view to maintain and accurate view of the future.

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@Derek Walz Hi Derek, thanks for joining the discussion. You make a really good point about including project managers in portfolio management in part to ensure the accuracy of the data being used to plan the portfolio. It makes sense that if the wrong resource information or incorrect milestones are being used, then the portfolio plans will also be inaccurate. And project managers are the ones who have the most accurate and updated info on their own projects. To me, an interesting question is what a good balance between maintenance effort and the advantage gained from an accurate portfolio planning would be? 

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I think this can sometimes be a tricky question. Yes, absolutely, project managers  should be fully involved, but there's also a point about company culture and human nature. Some senior managers have to remember not to shoot the messenger.
Acknowledging that my PM's are all very capable, what I really need from them is honesty. If there's a problem, let me know; if they're over-running, flag it; if they believe they need more resources/money, then raise it. As a programme or portfolio manager, I'm dependent on accurate information from my PM's to make decisions. I may not want to hear the bad news, but it's much better for all of us than the sanitised, wispy information that the PM feels safe to deliver!. 

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