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Portfolio management is about balancing and hedging risk, as opportunities or threats are assessed, positions reviewed, and investment or dis-investment decisions are made. Why then is the focus of information flowing to portfolio managers primarily about schedule, scope and budget rather than value realisation? Why is success still judged by on-time-on-scope-on-budget rather than investment criteria such as yield and duration?
This presentation explores one reason: that the paradigm of the project, with its (usually annual) cycle of proposal, plan, implementation and delivery, is over-constrained for solving the complex domain where many portfolio managers operate – multiple overlapping products in competitive markets. Projects do not facilitate the dynamic monitoring of product applicability and profitability. Where “small change” processes are introduced to enable greater responsiveness, the cost and impact of such work may not even be visible at portfolio-management level. The presentation looks at the alternative paradigm of “value-flow”, particularly its realisation in Lean and Kanban approaches. It explains the concept of a kanban system and how it can be applied at product/programme level, covering many services that deliver value within the organisation and to its customers. It explains “irrefutable demand” – the perception that individual services receive work requests that cannot be refused – and how this works against flow, predictable deliveries and ultimately productivity. The primacy of time in investment decision-making is also stressed, particularly the importance of reducing “Lead Time” to reduce risk, and of understanding “cost of delay” as an economic basis for rational work scheduling.