Strategic portfolio management Tools

Implementing Portfolio Management from scratch: GO! Onderwijs’ success story

Imagine: ‘You have a lot of projects running, and people are simultaneously working on those different projects. You believe it is time to obtain that highly desired ‘helicopter’ view over your current but also future projects, because you feel that you are missing out on opportunities to improve the way your business operates. The Infrastructure Department of GO!Onderwijs experienced the same issue and decided to implement a structured Portfolio Management approach into their organization. Read their story below. You might get inspired yourself!

“After following Threon’s Portfolio Management training, we were convinced of the advantages Portfolio Management could offer our organization. At first, we tried to complete it ourselves, but soon realized that there is no quick standardized method that you can implement that fits every organization and gets all of your team members onboard. Therefore, we asked Threon for consulting support” – Sara Loonbeek, Program Coordinator GO! Onderwijs

Introducing Portfolio Management into your organization: what’s essential?

Creating a thorough Portfolio Management base. This way, the project organization perfectly understands the methodology behind Portfolio Management and a common mindset is established. For GO! Onderwijs, this improved the implementation of their proposed Portfolio Management roadmap. Nevertheless, there were some challenges to keep in mind:

  • A very restricted timeline of three months to create the new GO! Onderwijs’ Portfolio Management mindset and implement GO!’s predefined and tailor-made roadmap;
  • Even though the project organization had followed the Portfolio Management training ahead of this project, topics like Resource Management and Portfolio Selection are rather complex.

Which steps helped GO! Onderwijs to counter their challenges?

GO!Onderwijs’ roadmap handled the following topics, in this specific order:

  1. Basic Portfolio Management
  2. Long- & mid-term Resource Management/Capacity Planning (T-Capacity included)
  3. Risk Management on Portfolio level

After a kick-off session, each topic was handled via workshops (12 in total), training sessions and a validation session to validate all designed frameworks. Each workshop started with methodology about the topics, followed by ways to put that methodology immediately into practice. We challenged our best practices with the GO! Onderwijs team and matched them to their unique organization. The team concluded every workshop with a new part to add to the Portfolio Management framework, which they can now implement autonomously.

Let us take a closer look at the roadmap steps

  1. Basic Portfolio Management
    Within this track, topics like Governance, Portfolio Selection and Reporting where dealt with. Portfolio methodology, roles and responsibilities within the infrastructure department of GO! Onderwijs got defined and governance became clearer. GO!’s team responsible for strategic planning was able to identify a framework and parameters for the prioritization of new investment ideas during the workshops. The organization was already using Project Server, so together, we set-up the Portfolio Selection module in the tool that easily supports them in future project prioritization. Next to this, the team received several examples that could help them ease the reporting process.
  2. Capacity planning & resource management (with T-Capacity)
    GO! Onderwijs got a thorough introduction to Long-Term capacity planning and during additional workshops we analyzed demand, capacity and specific resource needs for the upcoming years. We used the T-Capacity tool that reveals (current and) future capacity imbalances and gives useful insights that eases decision-making processes within the organization. Afterwards, we trained the team so they can use the tool autonomously;
    A uniform Mid-Term resource management process was defined and set up to gather and match supply and demand for the next months. The Project Server environment serves as the means to resolve potential issues and GO!’s project managers and PMO-team got trained in how to execute these resource management exercises themselves.
  3. Risk Management
    Every project has risks linked to it, but also at Portfolio level there are risks that need to be managed securely. Together with the team, Portfolio risks for the GO! Onderwijs portfolio got described and after some fine-tuning from our side, the risk management approach for GO! was applied to the complete portfolio within their infrastructure department

GO! Onderwijs’ first results and future steps

As a result of this assignment, multiple Portfolio Management processes and guidelines were established and more importantly: immediately usable. From governance, to risk management, the needed tools were provided and roles and responsibilities got clarified.

“We experienced this assignment as extremely useful and are actively using the implemented framework by ourselves. It helps us to structure our planning more efficiently and make it transparent. Next to this, we are very positive about our collaboration with Threon’s team”, – Sara Loonbeek, Program Coordinator GO! Onderwijs

The next step will be the application of the portfolio selection process for the upcoming years. In the area of Capacity Management, the T-Capacity tool provided very useful insights. A match between resource (= people) demand & supply was clarified, thanks to the graphs that visualized the over- and under resource allocation. Based on these results, actions can be defined to make sure future projects have the necessary (number and correct types of) resources to be executed.

About GO!Onderwijs

GO! Onderwijs is a school network in Flanders, Belgium, and coordinated by the Flemisch Community. It operates via a specifically designed pedagogical project that offers children and young adults equal chances to attain high quality education. All GO! Onderwijs schools focus on ‘learning how to live together as a community’ and stimulate active citizenship among students.