We are in the process of implementing a project portfolio management method where none has existed previously. We have done a good deal of research and developed a process that includes a scoring model. Analyzing project proposals, working with clients, and scoring them will take a significant amount of time for each project. For short term projects, the time and effort put into evaluating and scoring the project will be more than the time and effort required to execute the project.

My questions are:

  • In your experience, how have you decided what projects should not be scored?
  • Which projects is it not worth scoring because they are so short term (dare I say easy)?
  • What do you do with those projects? How do you compare them to projects that are being scored when determine which project should be done next?
  • Do you even consider these quick wins to be projects, or just tasks on a to-do list?

I think the process of scoring and prioritizing projects, no matter its size and complexity, should generally be the same; however, based on size and complexity, the authority at different clip levels, the rigor and formality, and the controls would be different. For example, a business case for a $30,000, 8-month project might take all of two slides while a business case for a $25.0M, 3-year project would require a substantial amount of effort and a complex work product. The former project could get approved by a department head who has a budget of various projects already assigned to his/her department, while the latter project would require approval from an established leadership/governance board of some sort. Both projects would still have a case, would still get scored, just with different rigor and approval points.

Even if you have a project budget for which you are responsible, and designed for "quick win" type projects, you still want to make sure you are getting the biggest return for every dollar you spend. The only way to do that is a scoring method of some type, allowing you to analyze benefits, costs, penalties, and risks. Your challenge is to make the scoring method as efficient as possible so as not to overwhelm the process.

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For short term projects, the time and effort put into evaluating and scoring the project will be more than the time and effort required to execute the project.

In a way, you’ve answered your own question. Your portfolio management process should define a threshold. This could be almost any set of business metrics such as time, money, or effort. Above the line, apply your full process. Below the line, roll up your small projects into bigger ones, or define a lighter-weight or bypass process so you don’t waste resources managing the small stuff.

With any process, you need to define the level of granularity that you want to manage to. Adjust the granularity of your portfolio management until it’s only tracking things at the right level of granularity to support your organization’s decision-making processes.

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