A project portfolio is much more than a sum of all projects that you have. In the same way, project portfolio management is much more than managing many projects at the same time. To manage a portfolio means to link your execution to the strategy, to create transparency, alignment, and buy-in.

Doing the right projects is about:

  • How you select which work to do or not do
  • How you prioritize work
  • How you handle change
  • How you define constraints and boundaries
  • How you communicate.

Portfoleon demystifies project portfolio management

Project portfolio management is often perceived as a complex and expensive activity that requires tons of paperwork, expensive consultants, and only makes sense in huge organizations. Nothing can be further from the truth. As a result of this perception of complexity, organizations focus on execution and delivery, and fail to improve on project selection, prioritization, and alignment.

Portfoleon gets project portfolio management back to basics:

  • Simple boards > Complex calculations. Portfoleon focuses on making the roadmap visual and accessible for any stakeholder.
  • A good conversation > Precise process automation. Portfoleon is designed for humans collaborating, brainstorming, and exploring options.
  • Interactive boards > Read-only reports. You can drag and resize things on the boards instead of viewing reports and editing projects through filling forms.
  • Quick start > First time right. You can get started in a matter of hours and progressively elaborate your data structure, boards, and automation rules. There’s no need to spend weeks trying to plan ahead. Achieve something today.

Focus on the big picture

With Portfoleon you can focus on high-level plans that do not hide the forest for the trees. Manage your plans in big blocks, such as epics or projects.

Some project management tools like Microsoft Project or Jira tend to present your portfolio as a simple aggregation of all your tasks. Total effort, duration, and cost will be derived from every task in your portfolio.

This bottom-up approach may seem attractive at first glance, since your portfolio will always be in sync with your detailed work breakdown. However, in practice this approach is very limiting for two reasons:

  1. It requires you to perform work decomposition too early, encouraging Big Design Up Front and limiting your agility.
  2. It is difficult to make changes to your plans fast, because you will have to work through lots of tasks to reflect the new reality in your system.

In Portfoleon you will plan in broad strokes without going into too much detail.

It depends. Your roadmap should not limit your agility and should not force you to make “commitment for the sake of commitment”.

You are doing it wrong if you:

  • Introduce artificial constraints for the purpose of having more control over R&D;
  • Make plans in attempt to predict and control the future uncertainty.

You are doing it right if you:

  • Use the roadmap to communicate how the company / product / business unit strategy manifests itself in execution;
  • Plan experiments that you need to perform to validate next business outcome hypotheses;
  • Do the “reality check” with the other managers in your organization.

A good roadmap does not set things in stone. Instead it provides a source for meaningful conversations and making effective decisions.

We do not recommend full task decomposition on a mid-term or long-term horizon for two reasons:

  1. Breaking down large work in detailed chunks requires time and effort. The further your planning horizon is, the more likely it is that a change will happen and render the planning invalid, thus making the time and effort invested in analysis go to waste.
  2. The more detailed a plan is, the more brittle it becomes. Imagine you have a plan where all the work is planned with 8-hour precision, and then a key team member calls in sick and is not able to work for 5 days in a row. Your plan has just become infeasible, and you have to do a lot of rescheduling to make it true again. Small changes happen all the time, so you will have to do a lot of work to keep this detailed schedule up-to-date without adding a lot of value.

That being said, it does not mean you don’t need to plan detailed work. On the contrary - you do, however in doing so you will need to limit your planning horizon. You can use one of the many task management systems for this purpose, such as Atlassian Jira. Integrate your task management with Portfoleon using a native Jira connector, Zapier connector, or integration API.

Birds-eye view on your roadmap
Portfoleon What we often see in other systems
Information is viewed as ✓ Visual boards, showing various aspects of the portfolio roadmap Task lists, Gantt charts, or reports
Making changes ✓ Updating projects, epics, or phases using spreadsheet edits or drag-and-drop You have to update many rows in the WBS to properly reflect a change

Portfoleon offers visual UI to manage complex things

Legacy project portfolio management software used to give you access to every detail of your portfolio, however the cost of this is often a very complicated user interface.

If filling lots of forms for every project on your roadmap or navigating through different screens to collect important information sounds familiar to you, then you have probably used such software in the past.

We took a different approach with Portfoleon. Instead of implementing every aspect of project and portfolio management in the system we focus on essentials:

  • Simple visuals instead of complex figures. For example, you can view resource bottlenecks on a timeline board in a form of a simple chart to immediately spot bottlenecks.
    Resource load visualization
  • Broad stroke details, but quick to change instead of high level of detail that requires a lot of maintenance.
  • Familiar editing methods instead of unique UI design. You can use drag-and-drop to move cards around, or copy and paste from spreadsheets as you do in Excel or Google Sheets. Working with Portfoleon feels familiar and efficient.
Spreadsheets are really easy to use in Portfoleon
Portfoleon What we often see in other systems
Editable spreadsheets ✓ Portfoleon uses an Excel-like spreadsheet with copy/paste and drag-to-fill capabilities for faster editing. You have to fill a form for every item or project, meaningful bulk editing is not possible.
Pivot tables ✓ Portfoleon enables a powerful but simple to use on-line portfolio analysis with pivot tables. Complex built-in analysis that requires training to understand.

Portfoleon adds easy and powerful resource management

Most roadmap software tools, such as ProductBoard or Roadmunk, focus on visualization and sharing functionality. Just as Portfoleon these roadmap tools offer simple and effective UI to create and manage roadmaps.

However, when it comes to feasibility, execution, and follow-up, just having a beautiful roadmap chart is not enough.

Portfoleon can be so much more than making a presentation slide. You can check feasibility, find and resolve resource bottlenecks, get cost estimates - and all of that without leaving your roadmap board.

You can perform decomposition and manage resources in very broad strokes, for example you can define that “for my API security redesign work I will need 2 FTE in the R&D team”, visualize this information, and determine when you will have the capacity.

Portfoleon will automatically move and scale your blocks of work and reflect the updated resource load in the resource plan.

Use resource management to make your plans realistic
Portfoleon What we often see in other systems
Lean resource management ✓ In Portfoleon you can plan resources at a low level of detail, sufficient for a high-level plan, but without micro-management. No resource management, focus on visualization only or individual task assignment and day-to-day resource management
Pivot charts ✓ Portfoleon implements charts to perform quick on-line resource analysis. You can add resource information in custom fields, however no data analysis is available.

Is Portfoleon for me?

YES, if you believe that:

  • You want to connect strategy to execution through projects;
  • A meaningful conversation is more important than precise calculation;
  • Having simple, visual, and up-to-date information is more important than having very detailed information that often gets outdated.