1B) Portfolio

The second top priority (ball being juggled) is to find out what your IT team is working on right now.

If you don’t have a complete inventory of your IT projects from small to big, then ask your team to work on it. The creation and ongoing management of this portfolio of work is one of the key, ongoing requirements for an IT leader. You simply must know how your people are spending their time and where your budget dollars are going. Portfolio Management is one of the most important things you must focus on because there is always, forever, no matter what, more to do than can be done. Your organization must have a good understanding of what is going on.

The portfolio should include information about each  project including costs, timelines, risks of not doing and risks of continuing, business purpose, business counterparts and champions. There are countless tools and systems that can be used to track and manage the inventory and there has been countless articles written about this need including earlier ones by me here, here and here.

With this portfolio, you can begin the assessment of how what you are doing (Portfolio) matches with what you are learning while (Connecting). As you continue the conversations with your counterparts, you can continuously test how well your team is helping the other teams succeed. This is an ongoing process and can start with the first conversations or later ones.

A good understanding of your IT portfolio gives you several advantages. First, it can inspire confidence in you and your team in the eyes of others. If you can always given an accurate picture of what you are doing and why, then it helps your peers feel confident in your work. Second, an accurate inventory helps you have smart conversations with your CFO and your boss. You can discuss trade-offs if necessary, you can explain relative priorities, you can discuss spending needs out into the future, etc.

The portfolio is a key. Build a good one and build a good process to keep it up to date.

3 thoughts on “1B) Portfolio”

  1. Hi Mark,

    Does the IT active project portfolio has to match exactly with what the CIO is learning while connecting with his/her peers? Sometimes the business customers don’t know what they need or are missing out on. Sometimes it is not easy to find non-IT champions for the IT projects because the business customer it too focused in their day to day challenges. They are are looking at IT to just solve the immediate problems.


    1. Saqib,
      No I doubt they would match perfectly. And it would depend on what is included in the portfolio from early ‘ideas’ which might be tracked and listed or might not be listed. I think the point is to have a basis for the conversation and then iterate.

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