South Africa is currently in "lockdown" due to Covid-19. For further information visit Thank you.

Portfolio and Programme Management: Workshop Example

This workshop is drawn from a series of ‘conversations’ about portfolio and programme management.  The first conversation is about how to structure a program.

The audience then decides between them the prioritisation of which conversations they would like to cover.

The ‘big’ principles

Project portfolio management – and programmes as a special case of portfolios – is briefly reviewed.  Key disciplines and the differences between portfolio and programme management are set out and discussed.  They will be crucial in the dealing with the chosen challenges.

Conversation A: Structuring a programme

Focuses on the governance of a portfolio within a programme.  Based, as all the challenges are, on a real problem faced by an organisation similar to yours, the task is to construct a combination of projects that delivers the business outcomes agreed.  Each group sets out their ideas and the results are shared and examined.  The session concludes with a review of tools and techniques that can be used to support this common challenge.

The conversation pool

Each conversation is set in the organisational context that gave rise to the problem.  Each group sets out their ideas and their results are shared and examined.  The sessions conclude with a review of tools, techniques and models that can be used to address similar issues that arise.

Translating a vision into operations

How to implement a strategy.  Programmes take a strand of a strategy and manage the organisation’s transition from one state to another.  It is a complex process, and requires the use of a number of techniques drawn from 9 different management approaches.

 Tranche planning

How best to cluster and sequence projects and other activities in a programme.  The principles are similar to those used when constructing an independent project portfolio, but the process is subtly influenced by the degree of interdependencies between the projects and the need to create ‘transition states’ or ‘islands of benefit’.

 Gaining commitment

Examines the fundamental need to create and maintain commitment by the key stakeholders when establishing a programme or portfolio.  Simple to say, but extraordinarily complex to achieve, the discussion is around actions rather than planning, and the use of stratagems to achieve alignment.

Design authority & change dynamics

Focuses on the balance necessary to achieve between managing the risks to the infrastructure always present when project-driven change is planned and the delivery of benefits through that change.  The roles and influence of the design and change communities are examined, and how the conflicting needs can be resolved successfully.

 On-boarding the team

Focuses on the teams involved in making change a reality in the business.  It is a commonplace to observe that successful change depends on people, yet it is often the case the change agencies – the people responsible and involved in the managing of the change are overlooked.  How do you get commitment from the deliverers, rather than the receivers of change?  This case explores the theme.

 Establishing the optimum portfolio

The governance of a portfolio.  This looks at the three strategies that need to dovetail to achieve an optimum combination and how prioritisation schemes both contribute and hinder the process.  It looks in particular at how to handle the portfolio under conditions of changing priorities and conflict.

 Resourcing a portfolio

What issues arise when a portfolio moves from selection to implementation?  Resourcing and planning a portfolio is not the same as planning and scheduling a project – it is more onerous and how well it is done ultimately determines how successful the organisation is in achieving its strategic goals.

 Culling projects

The processes and necessary pre-conditions for a portfolio committee to be able to manage and control a portfolio.  Killing projects is a simple management decision, culling requires much greater discipline and sophistication in the portfolio management processes.  The approach to well-conducted culling – a growing necessity in many organisations today – is examined.


  • Social

  • RSS Recent Posts

    • Lessons from the best PMOs in the world
      Over the last three years I have had the privilege to be involved as an international judge in the PMO Global Alliance Awards and as the chairperson of the judging committee for the South African PMO Awards.  Here are just some of the things I learned from some of the best PMOs in the world. […]
    • Great project managers have great networks
      Much research over the last twenty years has attempted to identify the characteristics of successful project managers. However, more recently, this has been questioned and replaced with a more interesting debate. What makes for successful project management? The argument goes that even the ‘best’ project manager acting alone without support from the organization and appropriate […]
    • Be a Modern Professional Learner
      As a project coach, I get many opportunities to ask the question,” What did you learn from most over the last few years?”   So far no one has ever answered; “There was this great course” or even, sadly; “There was this great presentation you did on…”. Most adult learning comes from relevant experience: challenges […]
  • RSS Recent Posts

    • The Mission Model
      Of all the contributors to project success, the one overwhelming factor is ‘clarity’: Clarity about what the project is to achieve; clarity about what success looks like; clarity about value to the stakeholders; clarity about who the stakeholders are, and certainty about the risks that may be encountered.
    • The change diamond
      Directed or managed change is the way organisations translate their deliberate strategies into reality.  For most organisations the vehicle used to initiate and structure change is its portfolio of projects.  It is, therefore, the linking of business outcomes to project …
    • Purposeful communication
      From our interviews with project managers, and the stories they tell us, we have identified six generic communication purposes. The ‘six-whys’ are discussed in the following sections, along with how the purpose (the ‘why’ question) impacts the communication approach used.
    • Defining project scope
      Scope is the sum total of all the work required for the project. Objective – A single statement describing the project’s completion state in business outcome language.  It enables the sponsor, steering group, key stakeholders and project to test when the …
    • The M-model
      Portfolio, programme and project governance Maintaining, focus and control, implementing policy and giving direction are the principle purposes of any change governance model.  As with corporate governance, the approach must ensure the decisions are made at the right level, by …
  • News: Workshops

    Stakeholder management

    extended-smIf stakeholders matter, then they must make a difference to the way we plan, structure, communicate, and execute business decisions.

    PiCubed has prepared a series of... [... Read more]

  • News: Publications

    Changing the way project managers learn

    Presented at the Project Management Western Cape Conference, November 2017.

    This presentation looks at approaches to becoming a self-motivated professional learner in the field of project management.  It addresses the following:

    Why is self-led learning important? Informal learning and why it matters to PM professionals What... [... Read more]

    Networking and stakeholder engagement

    The young entrepreneur’s event was set up by Honeycomb and hosted by The Pepper Club in Cape Town.

    Louise spoke on networking and stakeholder management and what lesson from project management may be appropriate to entrepreneurs.  You can find the presentation slides here.

    [... Read more]

  • Useful Links