Effective decision-making for the entire portfolio

Effective decision-making for the entire portfolio

2019-02-26 blog portfolio.jpgTuesday 26 February 2019

Who is responsible for effective decision-making, how to rioritize do you and bases on which criteria? It's a challenge to get insights, do we do it top down or bottom-up? And what role can marketing and communication do for the portfolio?

Meetings organised by the CIO Platform Nederland are 100% based on the exchange of knowledge and experience from own daily practice. Participants of the various meetings are colleagues working at the 110+ member organizations of the association CIO Platform Nederland. Best practices around the governance of IT were shared during the meeting of the Knowledgegroup Portfoliomanagement on Thursday February 14th. 

On this Thursday the members of the Knowledgegroup Portfolio management gathered in the charming attic room of the town hall of the municipality of Rotterdam at the Coolsingel. By invitation of Vivian Cheng, who hosted this session, we have got an insight regarding the theme of strategic portfolio management about which steps they have been taken in this area. Also during the introduction of CIO Mark Vermeer about how he positions the Strategic Digital (I) Agenda of the Municipality of Rotterdam gave food for thought. The presentation of Vivian Cheng is available on the online Knowledgebase (only for members of the CIO Platform Nederland). 

During the open space workshop after the break we’ve made an inventory about the relevant questions for help for the discussion afterwards. The subject most value to talk about was: “Effective decision making: who does it, how to prioritize and according which criteria?” The most important best practices: 

Set up an Advisory board 

By experience it was learned that setting up an "Advisory board" works very well and to think carefully about who with which background to take place in this Board. The seats in this body should be formally elected by the Board of Directors. By this position not only the own interests are safeguarded from its own workplace environment, but also for the organization as a whole it is decided which projects should prioritized first. The people in this Board are therefore a good and broad reflection of the whole organization and the opinion of each one counts equally heavily. By giving a lot of insight from the Portfolio and to prepare a lot for the mostly bi-annual organized meetings, the best results are achieved. An advantage is that no changes are made afterwards, or that from “another meeting" or "decibel management" also is prioritised.

Limit the use of criteria
Another good lesson is to use no – or as few as possible – criteria. This gives a lot of discussion about the criteria themselves. Prevent them from being used as a mathematical justification. It is about the conversation of the priorities, use criteria as a resource, but never as a goal, and make sure they are objective. A good experience was to let the ideas side determine what is valuable to start doing. For example by organising Innovation Challenges. Even if the responsibilities are within the self-steering teams, there will be prioritized at feature level. After all, the strategic come from the Advisory Board. 

The power of marketing and communications for portfolio
Another topic that has been raised is the "marketing and communication" of the portfolio. A sponsor from the organization, to fulfil by the CIO, is very important for this. Also, think of putting KPIs on this soft side of the portfolio and execute active stakeholder management. So: Explain the PFM process, underline the possibilities, be clear about the strategic direction – and the considerations that have been made. The best thing in this area of work is that we can show how valuable (good?) it goes with the portfolio: with this steering device in place, we maybe can act with less measures? 

We tryed to avoid the big A-word* in the discussions. There are enough challenges on the strategic execution. The joint challenge while developing the SAFE Framework, are the changes you have to deal with that have an impact into the heart of the organization. How good the processes and governance is, you can’t change a culture in just one day.

Meeting Knowledgegroup (CEG) Portfoliomanagement 
Municipally of Rotterdam, February 14th 2019 

* = Agile Portfoliomanagement

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