One of the two keys to managing a project portfolio to execute quickly is to have an anchor mechanism for strictly activating projects according to the organization's capacity. Many organizations make the mistake of trying to balance workload across all project resources. Managing project workload in this manner is far too complex to yield predictable results due to variability of both project task work and operational responsibilities.
The anchor mechanism that works is to recognize and stagger projects according to one strategic resource—that one resource pool, within each collection of projects, which determines how many projects the organization can handle without badly multi-tasking that resource. It is usually the resource which is the most heavily loaded, or the resource that project managers and sponsors fight over the most, or the resource that most delays projects. In many organizations, it is an IT resource, an engineering resource, or an integration group. In smaller organizations, it is often the availability of a project manager that governs how many projects the organization can accomplish.
The governance process, with the portfolio manager's help, must accommodate the de-activation of projects if the strategic resource is overloaded. In organizations such as Alcan Aluminum and TESSCO Technologies,7 this meant deactivating over 50 percent of the active projects. The portfolio manager must ensure that projects are staggered strictly according to the capacity of the strategic resource. Only then will project flow dramatically improve.
The second key to quick execution is to imbed a relay runner work ethic for people working on the critical path tasks in projects. These two keys—staggering projects according to capacity of the strategic resource and relay runner work ethic—are part of a project management methodology called Critical Chain.8 (See Chapter 28 for further discussion of Critical Chain project management.)
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.