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:   Retail $59.95
Format:  Hardcover, 272 pages
Publication Date:  2018     
ISBN: 978-1-60427-149-2
Reviewer:   Sean M. Thomas, PMP
Review Date:   June 2018



This is the first book from this author that I have read.  And I have to say, if this author writes another book, I will be sure to read it right away.  Murali begins by explaining the genesis of his experience in portfolio and project management, the difference in the fields’ theory and its practice, and his realization of the benefits of a modified methodological approach from a most practical perspective.

Only a very simple and basic understanding of project and portfolio management is needed to understand this book.  Murali quickly points out that while most books of this sort are not “made in a vacuum”, there are many helpful resources that participated in the assistance of this endeavor.  The endeavor?  To help anyone in project and portfolio management understand both of these areas more effectively, give them the tools to manage them more intelligently, and navigate the perilous waters of portfolio management from inception to efficiency, and from current decrepitude to rejuvenation.

Overview of Book’s Structure

This book begins by explaining the functions of a Portfolio Management Office (I’m going to coin a term here simply for the readers ability to separate ideas and definitions, PfMO = Portfolio Management Office, since PMO means Project/Program Management Office), and its responsibilities of overseeing the projects over which it has dominion.  It then gets into details about the intake and assessment of work as well as the tools to use to maximize the potential of that work.  The author goes further, giving us actual templates/snapshots of spreadsheets and diagrams, to afford us the well-conceived tools and techniques which will allow any and every Project Manager, Program Manager, Portfolio Manager, and business person the ability to setup and manage these offices most effectively.

Next come Annual Planning and Funding strategies.  The most interesting part of these chapters is not so much the way in which to plan for these, which is succinct yet ample, but rather, the pitfalls and pigeonholes one may expect to confront from external sources who have a stake in “fighting the power” of the experienced Manager, or worse yet, the newcomer brought in to reign in the insanity.  Murali goes beyond identifying these speedbumps by giving us additional tools to deal with these dilemmas in a logical manner, and always, as professionals.  From the perspective of this PMI-ACP, I would call this “Murali’s Roadmap to Sucessful Project Management”.

Murali then explains the Monitoring, Rebalancing, and Benefits Realization of PfMO’s when run well.  After this he starts offering up his own “modified Earned Value Management” or mEVM, which puts the power of producing consistently solid results in the hands of all who avail themselves to his writing.  Instead of using technical terms like Planned Value, which he references of course, he uses a “laypersons” approach and calls it what it is: “How Much Work Should Have Been Completed?”.  It is actions like this that enable any business person the ability to read this book.  He also breaks things into manageable components, such as Aggregation for PfMO use into three dimensions, “Portfolio View”, “Program View”, and “Multi-Year Project View” (page 126).  He then demonstrates an Agile approach to keeping everyone honest by recommending that all these dimensions be posted where ALL WORKERS CAN SEE THEM, so everyone in the company who passes by can see how work is progressing and see where the endangered/bad projects might be at any point in time.


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About the Reviewer

Sean M. Thomas, PMP

Texas, USA




Sean Thomas holds a MBA from University of Texas at San Antonio as well as the PMI credentials PMP and PMI-ACP.  He is also a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.  He teaches PMP and PMI-ACP Exam Prep Courses all over the world for government and non-government organizations alike, his students boasting the world’s highest PMP exam first-time test-taking pass rate of 99.7%, for all students who follow the careful course curriculum designed by Sean himself.

Sean is Adjunct Faculty for Hallmark University in San Antonio, TX, teaching for the Schools of Business and Information Technology, including Project Management, Macro and Micro Economics, Mathematics/Statistics, etc.  Sean has ten years’ experience in the US Army, both in demolitions and Armor (tank commander) having served two combat tours, and was badly wounded on his second while leading and protecting his troops.  After being medically retired out of the Army in 2008 at the rank of Captain, he continued his education and practiced consulting work for a wide range of organizations, which he continues to do, and in 2012 he started his own company called Project Vanguards LLC.

Sean can be reached at [email protected] and you can view his LinkedIn account at the web-link below, and his company information can be found at http://ProjectVanguards.com

LinkedIn Page:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/sean-m-thomas-85767913/


Editor’s note:  Editor’s note:  This book review was the result of a partnership between the publisher, PM World and the Alamo PMI Chapter in San Antonio, Texas. Authors and publishers provide the books to PM World; books are delivered to the PMI Alamo 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 Alamo Chapter members can keep the books as well as claim PDUs for PMP recertification when their reviews are published.   If you are an author or publisher of a project management-related book, and would like the book reviewed through this program, please contact [email protected].