Portfolio Mgmt

The I&IS Programme & Portfolio board is used to simply visualise the current WIP. It is immediately apparent that the department has far too many projects in flight concurrently. The colour coding is used to show the contention ratio across the various teams. Now this is visible, project managers are able to collaborate by resetting stakeholder expectations and queuing up projects. This is a vast improvement from pushing projects into teams with no consideration for contention ratio and getting no where.


Abstract WIP & Actual WIP

Once we’d introduced Kanban to the various delivery teams in operations and thus limited their work in progress, it became apparent that although project managers had projects in flight, they weren’t actually being worked on. To represent this, two columns are used to visualise portfolio level WIP – Abstract WIP and Actual WIP.


A big learning point from this exercise is the importance of not looking at the portfolio in isolation. Traditionally, portfolios are considered the single source of truth. In this new world, the portfolio is only used to visualise overall status of projects. The single source of truth is the individual delivery team boards. The delivery boards show not only the project work, but they also display the other classes of demand – incidents, BAU, and service line requests.

  1. Hi Ian, this board is pretty interesting.
    Would you mind explaining the purpose of:
    * Orange cards
    * and how the second column (scoping/planning/supplier eval) is used

    I imagine that the different stand-up meetings follow a pre-stablished sequence so that the portfolio management board is in sync with the rest. Could you please comment on this?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Hi Pedro, when we first visualised the portfolio, we simply put all work on the wall – we only had orange post-its to hand. The next iteration of the board was to make the columns more meaningful and split out the abstract WIP from the actual WIP. So, the orange cards are a hang-over from the previous board.

    It’s important to note this IS NOT a Kanban board. It is simply an information radiator as a catalyst for discussion.

    The second column (scoping/planning/supplier eval) is used to visualise where projects are in the project lifecycle. The project management team do a lot of preparatory work before the real work hits the teams – if at all. The 3rd parties are visualised on this board as some projects require work to be done by multiple teams, both internal and external.

    This board changes very slowly so the job of keeping it in sync is done may be every couple of weeks. I always look at the label ‘Project’ as an abstract entity, i.e. a collection or grouping of work to be done. I think this may be why people struggle with seeing ‘flow’ at the portfolio level?

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