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Evaluating and Building Portfolio Management Maturity

SECOND EDITION

By Susan Hostetter and Sherri Norris

U.S. Census Bureau

Washington, DC, USA


Executive Summary

This paper focuses on implementation of portfolio management process in a Federal program. It introduces a maturity model designed to evaluate and track portfolio management capability at the U.S. Census Bureau. The authors used their collective experience implementing portfolio management in Federal Programs to inform the paper and create the model.

The model evaluates and tracks the following program maturity characteristics:

  • The portfolio management process maturity levels;
  • The levels of strategic planning practiced;
  • The level of organizational acceptance for the portfolio management processes.

Important topics that emerged from the development of this maturity model were the definition of portfolio management characteristics, the value of strategic planning to the portfolio management process, and the importance of organizational acceptance in the success of implementing a new process.

Portfolio Management in a Federal Agency

Portfolio management is an important tool to support the fiscal accountability and transparency of government programs. The portfolio management process allows programs to select and prioritize projects that are essential to supporting important government programs.  These programs and agencies work within defined budgets, with the focus being on achieving program objectives, followed by adhering to rigid standards and established protocols.  Typically, agency budget authority lies with Congress and not within the organization (agency divisions and directorates). This uncertain budget environment increases the need for portfolio management.

Portfolio management aids governments programs by managing limited funds and ensuring that mission critical processes remain effective and up-to-date. It also helps government programs identify projects they should cancel or re-prioritize. Portfolio management also increases stakeholder engagement, aids in decision-making and tracks project investments throughout their lifecycle. Portfolio management is essential to completing important government work.

Background

According to MITRE Corporation, a recognized expert in Portfolio Management,  “Portfolio Management is a continuous and persistent process that enables decision makers to strategically and operationally manage resources to maximize accomplishment of desired outcomes (e.g. mission results, organizational improvements, enhancement of operational capabilities) within given constraints and constructs such as regulation, interdependent architectures, budgets, concept of operations, technology, and mission threads.”  More simply put, portfolio management is “doing the right things” to achieve organizational strategic goals. A portfolio is the complete inventory of investments required to achieve strategic priorities.

At the U.S. Census Bureau, the agency implemented portfolio management at either the directorate or the division level. Characteristic of a large government agency, there was variation in implementation of portfolio management among the different work groups and subsequently, portfolio management in some areas is more mature than in others. Previous presentations by Hostetter et al focused on only one program, the American Community Survey, which was an early adopter of portfolio management within the agency.  Now we are interested in taking a broader look at the portfolio management throughout the agency and evaluating the maturity of those processes. Through our experience with the American Community Survey and other programs, we now have a better idea of what would be key indicators of portfolio management maturity at the agency. As a natural step, we would like to apply that knowledge to evaluate the portfolio management capability across the different work groups at the agency, assess their maturity and classify the programs into workable levels.

More…

To read entire paper, click here

 

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 3rd annual University of Maryland Project Management Symposium in College Park, Maryland, USA in May 2016.  It is republished here with the permission of the authors and conference organizers.

 


 

About the Authors

pmwj48-Jul2016-Hostetter-PHOTO
Susan Hostetter

Washington, DC, USA

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Susan Hostetter
, PMP, is a project management professional with over twenty years’ experience with Federal Statistical programs. Ms. Hostetter has been instrumental in standing up and managing risk management, project management, portfolio management, strategic planning, and performance management processes for large survey and Census programs. She has a Master’s Degree in Management with a Project Management emphasis from the University of Maryland’s University College, a Master’s Certificate in Program Management from George Washington University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Mary Baldwin University. Susan can be reached at [email protected].

 

pmwj48-Jul2016-Hostetter-PHOTO NORRIS
Sherri Norris

Washington, DC, USA

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Sherri Norris
is a project management and statistical professional with over twenty years of public policy, project management and operations experience. Ms. Norris has coordinated and implemented schedule, requirements, performance management, and governance processes for survey and Census Programs. She has a Public Policy Master’s Degree in Justice: Law and Society from American University, a Master’s Certificate in Program Management from George Washington University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from University of Delaware. Sherri can be reached at [email protected].