Portfolio Governance - Insights, Strategies & Tips


In a fast-paced, competitive world, the success of projects within an organization is paramount. Portfolio governance is a critical component that can significantly influence project outcomes. We recently hosted a riveting webinar with industry experts who provided their insights on governance in project management. If you missed it, worry not. Below is a comprehensive summary of the insightful webinar we conducted, along with the embedded webinar video for your perusal.

Watch Now: The PMO’s Achilles Heel - Portfolio Governance

Webinar Overview

  • Title: The PMO’s Achilles Heel: Portfolio Governance
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Host: Stuart Easton, CEO of TransparentChoice
  • Guest Speakers: Ross Garland and Amanda Oakenfold

What You’ll Learn

In this engaging webinar, our experts discuss the intricacies of Portfolio Governance and how it can critically impact project management. Dive into a knowledge-packed session that covers:

  • The importance of Portfolio Governance
  • Strategies for effective Portfolio Governance
  • Principles underlying project and portfolio governance
  • Tips for successful implementation

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the interconnectedness of project and portfolio governance
  • Gain insights on aligning multiple programs and projects with organizational goals
  • Learn how to optimize resource allocation and decision-making processes
  • Discover the importance of clear roles, trust, and accountability

About the Speakers

  • Ross Garland: is an expert in project governance and project assurance. He is a published author of the P3G Project, Programme and Portfolio Governance guide and created the first P3G certification program. He has authored white papers for the UK Cabinet Office Best Management Practice website and was an official reviewer of the OGC’s Management of Portfolios guidance. Ross regularly presents at conferences and has been a guest lecturer at various Universities.
  • Amanda Oakenfull: Over a long and distinguished career in the Australian military, in government and in large consulting companies such as EY and Deloitte, Amanda has delivered major technology solutions and lead transformation programs across most industry sectors and technologies. Amanda is something of a “turnaround specialist” and has seen more than her fair share of project governance failures. Currently, Amanda is an Executive Leader at IBM Consulting A/NZ - and was a Women Leading Technology Finalist in 2022.
  • Stuart Easton: As CEO of Transparent Choice, he helps organizations align their projects and initiatives with strategic goals. A guest lecturer on project prioritization at the University of Oxford, Stuart also speaks at various PMO conferences and events. His talks usually focus on how PMOs can deliver strategic value, identify waste, and eliminate pet projects.

Resources & Links


Transcript Summary


Our host Stuart Easton, the CEO and one of the founders of TransparentChoice, welcomed the audience and introduced our esteemed guest speakers, Ross Garland and Amanda Oakenfold. Ross is an author and expert on governance standards, and Amanda, popularly known as “the mechanic,” is recognized for her skill in fixing broken processes at IBM. Together, they delve into the importance of governance in project management, portfolio governance, and practical strategies for implementation.

Why Governance Matters

The webinar kicked off with a revealing chart from PMI's Pulse of the Profession, which shows that only around 60-70% of projects deliver the intended business result. Top-performing PMOs, on the other hand, achieve a 90% success rate, largely attributed to strong governance.

Governance is crucial, not just at the project level, but also at the portfolio level where decision-making and alignment with business goals take place. Additionally, soft skills such as trust, accountability, and the establishment of a no-blame culture are vital in governance.

NOTE: How governance is applied can drastically impact the success rate of projects. For an in-depth look at how agile governance can revolutionize your PMO, you might want to check out our post on Agile Governance.

Principles of Governance

The speakers emphasized the artisan approach to governance, tailoring it to each project and organization. Ross discussed several principles, such as the importance of having a single point of accountability and treating change differently from regular business activities. Moreover, it was stressed that governance is about decisions, not just activities. Managing politics, power dynamics, and ensuring clear terms of reference for governance forums are key.

Portfolio Governance

Portfolio governance was highlighted as a pivotal element. It operates at a higher level than project governance, focusing on the coordination and oversight of multiple programs and projects to ensure alignment with strategic objectives, resource allocation, and overall performance management.

Interconnection of Governance Levels

Project, program, and portfolio governance are interconnected. Project governance focuses on structure, roles, and processes for individual projects. Program governance coordinates multiple projects for specific objectives, while portfolio governance aligns and manages multiple programs and projects with the organization’s strategic goals.

Implementation Strategies

Amanda shared insights on practical steps for implementing governance:

  1. Create a distinction between governance and project management.
  2. Identify key decisions that need to be made, and gather relevant information.
  3. Get the right people involved in decision-making processes.
  4. Educate and train project managers, program managers, and stakeholders on governance.
  5. Start small with a lightweight governance framework on one project or program.
  6. Define roles and responsibilities clearly within the governance framework.
  7. Keep the governance framework flexible and adaptable.

Additionally, Ross emphasized creating visual representations of project forums and how they feed into each other, ensuring that escalation paths connect to the next level of governance.

Avoiding Over-Control

An essential takeaway was not to over-control projects, especially when they start veering off track. Instead, it’s essential to avoid micromanagement and allow the project to evolve naturally while still maintaining proper governance.

Final Words and Resources

The webinar concluded with the speakers encouraging attendees to reach out via LinkedIn for further discussions. Ross mentioned resources for those interested in pursuing P3G certification or obtaining relevant books.

 New call-to-action