Evaluating Strategic Project Portfolio Performance

By Susan S. Bivins and Michael J. Bible




Project portfolio management does not guarantee success in achieving strategic goals and objectives. However, an effective PPM process can increase the chances of selecting and completing the projects that best accomplish organizational objectives and contribute to achieving its vision. Key factors in meeting these objectives are (1) selecting the projects that best support strategic objectives, (2) monitoring performance during implementation to ensure the portfolio remains on track to deliver strategic benefits and (3) adjusting strategy and the portfolio when changes in strategy or performance dictate.

After selecting and implementing the optimal project portfolio, the organization must monitor and control project and portfolio performance. To do so, performance metrics must be identified, unacceptable variances determined, performance reporting processes and information specified, and performance baselines established; these provide a framework to effectively monitor and control performance. To assess performance at the portfolio level, it is vital to measure the performance of individual projects and consolidate the measurements in a mathematically meaningful way that reflects the strategic importance of the member projects.

Traditional metrics and methods emphasize performance relative to cost, schedule and sometimes quality or scope baselines.  They do not assess whether projects and portfolios remain on track to deliver the strategic benefit for which they were selected. Beyond the traditional metrics, obvious questions are how to (1) derive project strategic performance using traditional performance measurements, (2) synthesize individual project measurements into meaningful strategic performance measurements at the portfolio level, and (3) assess current project and portfolio strategic performance with respect to continued expectation of achieving strategic objectives as they progress through implementation. This paper addresses the first two questions, and suggests a means of approaching the third.


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Editor’s note:  Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 6th Annual UT Dallas Project Management Symposium in Richardson, Texas, USA in August 2012.  It is republished here with the permission of the authors and UT Dallas

About the Authors

Susan S. Bivins


Susan S. Bivins, MSPM, PMP, has more than twenty-five years of management and leadership experience dedicated to delivering successful information technology, organizational change management, and professional consulting services projects for major global corporations. She specializes in project and portfolio management; international, multi-cultural and multi-company initiatives; and business strategy integration in the private and public sectors.

During her career with IBM, Sue managed multiple organizations and complex projects, including operations and support for the Olympics, and a strategic transformational change program. Since retiring from IBM, she has led multi-company joint initiatives with Hitachi, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, and served as Director of Project Management at Habitat for Humanity International.

Sue earned her Master of Science in Project Management from the Graduate School of Business at The George Washington University, where she received the Dean’s Award for Excellence and was admitted to the Beta Gamma Sigma business honorarium. A member of PMI, she contributed to the PMI Standard for Portfolio Management and is currently serving on the OPM3 Third Edition team. She and her husband live in Missouri. Sue can be reached via e-mail at [email protected],

Michael J. Bible


Michael J. Bible, MSPM, PMP, has twenty-five years of professional and leadership experience supporting the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), of which last 12 years have been dedicated to project and program management of test and evaluation programs for major defense acquisition programs. He is a project management professional with a successful history applying project management best practices to the technical field of test and evaluation for portfolios of complex defense acquisition programs and projects.

Mike specializes in management of complex technical projects, and as a former co-owner of an engineering services firm, has applied strategic planning to establish organizational direction while utilizing project portfolio management to successfully grow the company in alignment with business initiatives.

A retired Marine Corps officer, Mike obtained his Master of Science in Project Management from the Graduate School of Business at The George Washington University and is a member of PMI. He lives with his wife and son in Virginia. Mike can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

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