Breakthrough Project Portfolio Management


Book Title:  Breakthrough Project Portfolio Management: Achieving the Next Level of Capability and Optimization 
Author:  Murali Kulathumani, MBA, CSM
Publisher:  J. Ross Publishing
List Price:   $59.95
Format:  Hard cover, 339 pages
Publication Date:  2017
ISBN: 9781604271492
Reviewer:     Maryanne Coelln, PMP
Review Date:   March 2018



This easy to read book provides a complete approach to project portfolio management. A key differentiator from other books is Mr. Kulathumani’s explanation of how to create a project portfolio using a simplified form of earned value management which can be adapted to changing situations. He introduces the portfolio management concept in the initial chapters, explains how to measure success in subsequent material, followed by implementing the concepts, then concludes with portfolio governance.

Overview of Book’s Structure

The book is divided into four sections: Key Components of a Portfolio Process, mEVM (modified Earned Value Management), Implementation Strategies for the Real World, and The Support Systems that Decide Success.

These sections flow very logically from one to the next. The chapters have numerous sub-topics in each, allowing the reader to stop and reflect on each new thought before reading on to the next section. Each chapter contains a summary of what was presented.


Mr. Kulathumani’s conversational explanation of the topics in this book engage the reader. From his detailed review of the intake process of projects and his recommendations on the optimal portfolio planning approach, the reader has an immediate sense of where portfolio planning fits into the strategic focus of the organization. His details and examples describe the approach to take on this journey to create and manage a portfolio of projects that’s in alignment with the strategic vision of an organization.

His approach to modifying earned value calculations was new to me. Intuitively we all realize that we need to select projects and programs in our portfolio that will provide the greatest benefit – value – to meet the organizational goals. Money, time and resources are always constrained. He presents the concept and approach of mEVM, a technique that allows portfolios to make data-based objective decisions. mEVM can be considered a light footprint variant of EVM that provides most of the benefits of the traditional EVM technique at only a fraction of the cost/effort. He has a fully developed model for evaluating projects using this mEVM method, as well as rolling it out to the enterprise.

Part III of his book begins with dialog on Common Portfolio Problems and Solutions that all leaders of a PMO will recognize and have likely experienced several of them. Moving on to the selection and implementation of a tool to help with portfolio management is the next logical step in the process. Portfolio governance follows, with excellent pointers on how to approach new projects entering into the project backlog. The book ends with a perspective of the role of the CIO, and then how portfolio management benefits the business transformation of executing strategically valuable projects.


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About the Reviewer

Maryanne Coelln

North Texas, USA



Maryanne Coelln
, PMP, is Director of Project Delivery for the American Airlines Federal Credit Union.  Maryanne has a B.S.C. degree in Marketing from Santa Clara University, California and earned her PMP in 2003. She has over 15 years of experience in leading technical project teams and is focused on developing practical methodologies. She has been an active member in the PMI Dallas Chapter for many years.  Maryanne can be contacted at [email protected].


Editor’s note:  This book review was the result of a partnership between the publisher, PM World and the PMI Dallas Chapter. Authors and publishers provide the books to PM World; books are delivered to the PMI Dallas Chapter, where they are offered free to PMI members to review; book reviews are published in the PM World Journal and PM World Library.  PMI Dallas Chapter members can keep the books as well as claim PDUs for PMP recertification when their reviews are published.  Chapter members are generally mid-career professionals, the audience for most project management books. 

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