Han Schaminee is general manager Navigation and Automation at Wärtsilä Voyage.


Portfolio management: not so easy

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There are much better ways to guide project portfolio management than using business cases.

“It’s not so easy,” replied the development manager of Philips Microcomputer Development Systems back in the early eighties. I’d seen him struggle with next year’s projection, trying to fit as many ideas as possible in a limited budget. I was an angry young boy, often wrong but never in doubt, and I suggested only including projects with the largest return on investment. “It’s not so easy,” he replied. And he was right.

During the remainder of my career, I kept wondering whether using business cases for project portfolio management was the right approach. In the many projects I was involved in, I saw a lot of uncertainty on the cost side and even more uncertainty on the benefit side. People spent a lot of time closely monitoring the costs but hardly any time monitoring the benefits, especially when the costs were already included in the profit/loss account of previous years anyway. I also often saw many dependencies between different business cases, which made it difficult to judge them separately.

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