Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Portfolio Management: Building An Agile Portfolio Roadmap with MS Project

In my previous articles related to Portfolio Roadmap (Part 1, Part 2), I wrote the following:

“A portfolio roadmap is crucial because it shows the strategic intent of the organization in a visual (graphical) way. Irrespective of the approach used in portfolio management such as predictive (waterfall), adaptive (agile), hybrid or any other, the roadmap acts as an information radiator.”

As you may have noticed, Portfolio Roadmap is also used in adaptive approaches. In this article, we will learn how to have Agile components, using the Scrum framework, in a portfolio roadmap.  

At this stage, I’d strongly recommend that you read the previous two linked articles on the Portfolio Roadmap. Going forward, I’m going to modify that roadmap to include Sprints. Hence, it’s important that you read both.

Our Scenario

For one of the component projects, Project F, the approach used is Agile, specifically Scrum. For Project F, we have three releases and each release will have a number of Sprints. This is depicted below.  

As shown in the above figure, there are many components in our portfolio. The Component Project F consists of three iterations or Sprints. The Sprint length is 4 weeks. The Portfolio Management Office (PfMO) directive is to show all the releases and the Sprints in the portfolio roadmap. 

The Agile Portfolio Roadmap will be similar to the Traditional Roadmap, but differ in visualization. In our case, as noted earlier, we want to have the component project, releases and Sprints.  That said, we will take the following steps. 

Add Agile Custom Flag

To distinguish between the agile and non-agile, we will add another custom Boolean flag - isAgile. This will be in addition to the existing custom flags for component projects, programs and operations.  

Format for Agile Project (Project F)

Next, using the above Boolean flag (isAgile), we will format the Agile related components in the Agile Portfolio Roadmap. The formatting can be done by going to Format tab > Bar Styles group > Format command.  

As shown above, I’ve added an Agile Task above:

  • The appearance is with different color-coding.
  • The conditions applied for the task have the isAgile (flag) enabled.

Now, we are going to add this custom isAgile field and enable it for Project F to be executed in Agile mode.  

As you can see, after I enabled the isAgile custom flag for Project F, the color coding changed. The project has been renamed to Project F (Agile Mode) to make it distinguishable.  

Add Releases to the Component Project (Agile Mode)

In this step, we are going to add the releases to the component project, which is executed in Agile mode. After you add them, we will get the following view. 

As shown above:

  • Project F has three releases – Release 1, Release 2 and Release 3
  • Each release has a 2-month duration. 
  • Each release is highlighted in a separate color.
  • Dependencies among the releases are shown.

You might be wondering about the reason for the change of color of Project F to blue. This is because Project F has now become a Summary Task. Hence, the respective color coding has been applied. 

If you want to keep the same color coding, then you have put the formatting condition below the Summary Task and made some changes to the algorithm.

Add Scrum Custom Flag

To show Sprints under the releases, you can add another custom Boolean flag isScrum, This flag can be added similarly to what we have done for isAgile custom flag.  

Format for Sprints (Project F)

Like we formatted for the releases (Agile mode), similarly, we have to format for the Sprints. You to change the conditions while formatting and applying the Boolean flag isScrum, which we just created.

Next, create the respective Sprints under the releases, and you can see them in the Agile Portfolio Roadmap. This is shown below. 

As shown above:

  • Release 1 has three Sprints – Sprint 1, Sprint 2 and Sprint 3. Release 2 also has three Sprints – Sprint 4, Sprint 5 and Sprint 6.
  • All the Sprints have different formatting and color-coding.
  • Release 3 has no Sprint, and it retains the previous formatting and color coding.
  • With Sprints, Release 1 and Release 2 became Summary Tasks, and hence, they retain the respective formatting and color coding.

Video Demonstration – Portfolio Roadmap 

To have a better understanding, the below video demonstrates further what we have learned so far [Duration: 05m:16s]. 


Sprints are mini-projects with 1 to 4 weeks of duration. As the Sprint length is short, then it’s not necessary to display it in the roadmap. But then, it depends on the organization’s mandate.

Nevertheless, Agile approaches are part of Portfolio Management and if you are preparing for the Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP®) certification exam, then you need to know them, but not extensively.

The Standard for Portfolio Management explicitly notes other approaches as part of Portfolio Management:

“The portfolio management plan (PfMP) may describe or refer to different methodologies or approaches which the organization applies to manage different classes or types of portfolio components, specified in the portfolio roadmap.”

To elaborate further, the PfMP should have sections or reference sections, where different methodologies to be applied are noted. These can be predictive, adaptive (iterative and incremental) or agile, or a hybrid model.

I hope this article gives your needed hands-on information to build an Agile Portfolio Roadmap.


[1] NEW Book – I Want To Be A PfMP, the plain and simple way, by Satya Narayan Dash

[2] Article: Portfolio Management: Building and Managing A Practical Portfolio Roadmap – Part 1, by Satya Narayan Dash

[3] Article: Portfolio Management: Building and Managing A Practical Portfolio Roadmap – Part 2, by Satya Narayan Dash

[4] The Standard for Portfolio Management, by Project Management Institute (PMI)

Friday, April 05, 2024

Portfolio Management: Building and Managing A Practical Portfolio Roadmap with MS Project (Part – 2)

In the earlier part, we discussed the first set of steps needed to build a Portfolio Roadmap with a hands-on software tool, i.e., MS Project. There the following steps were informed:

  • Step – 1: Add the Portfolio Components 
  • Step – 2: Differentiate the Components 
  • Step – 3: Format the Bar Styles for Components

The components, as informed in the previous part, can be projects, programs, operations, business proposals, among others. In this part, we will take the final steps:

  • Step – 4: Apply the Bar Styles for Components
  • Step – 5: Track Progress with Portfolio Roadmap

You will also learn to show the dependencies between the components and the importance of a portfolio roadmap. This part will end with a hands-on video demonstration.

I'd strongly suggest that you read this linked article, before proceeding further. For this part, we will start with Step - 4.

This series: Part – 1


Step – 4: Apply the Bar Styles for Components

Now that we have customized the bar styles, we have to apply them into our Gantt Chart view to have the visualization. To do so, I’ll remove the earlier columns of Duration, Start and Finish, but add two new columns of isProgram and isOps. Remember we just added these two custom fields (columns).

Next, for each program component, the isProgram flag will be enabled and for each operation component, the isOps flag will be enabled. This will result in the following figure.  

As shown:

  • For Program B, the isProgram flag is enabled, but isOps flag is disabled. It’s shown in green colored bars.
  • For Business Area 1 Operations, the isOps flag is enabled, but isProgram flag is disabled. It’s shown in orange colored bars.

To have the name of the portfolio components on the right side of the bar, do ensure that the “Name” field is populated in the bar styles as shown below. 

Isn’t it a much better representation than the earlier one? 

The flag settings with bar style formatting is also very useful when the new portfolio components are added. You have to just enable or disable the flags and the color will automatically change. 

Step – 5: Track Progress with Portfolio Roadmap

Now, a portfolio, if completely new, can be authorized or some of its components can be authorized by the portfolio governing body. Assuming we have a new portfolio and it’s authorized the portfolio is in progress.

As the portfolio components are executed by the resources (financial, equipment, and human), we will have progress reported on the components. Let’s say few of the components are complete and we have to display the progress. For this purpose, we simply have to use the ‘% Complete’ column and show 100% completion. 

When visualized with completed portfolio components, we will have the following view.

As shown:

  • We have three projects, Project A, Project B and Project C, which are complete.
  • We have one program, Program A, which is complete.
  • The completion is shown with a small horizontal line going inside the bar.

For a clear visualization of completion (a line going inside), I’ve increased the size of the bar by going to Format tab > Format group > Layout command and then changing the bar height to 18, instead of default 12.  

Dependencies in the Portfolio Roadmap

As we learned in the beginning, the portfolio roadmap also shows the dependencies among the components and/or across business areas. Dependencies can be easily shown by using the predecessor field of MS Project software.

For example, in the below figure, we have dependencies shown among multiple component projects and programs of the portfolio.  

Portfolio Component Grouping

The Standard for Portfolio Management, also informs that the completed portfolio components can be grouped and displayed on top of the roadmap. This also can be done with MS Project software. 

For this purpose, I’ll use the built-in Complete and Incomplete Tasks group, which can be seen by going to View tab > Data group and selecting this group from the Group drop down menu. In this grouping, we will change the ordering to Descending.

As shown above, only change the order to ‘descending’ and keep the rest of the formatting as it is. Now, when you apply the grouping, we will have the following view. 

Clearly, the components which are 100% complete are shown on top, whereas the ones not complete, or yet to be started are shown towards the bottom of the above view.

Importance of Roadmap *** NEW ***

The importance of portfolio can be understood by the below top points:

  1. Shows both internal dependencies among portfolio components and can also show external dependencies. In fact, in your portfolio review meeting (governance meetings), this will be one of the first artifacts to be shown. 
  2. Shows the milestones and hence important for portfolio value delivery. Milestones are significant events in the portfolio’s timeline. Any delay in a portfolio component’s closure and subsequent benefits realization can have ripple effects on portfolio management.  
  3. Helps in defining the portfolio components, i.e., used specifically in identification, categorization, scoring and ranking of portfolio components. 
  4. Clearly identifies the classes or types of portfolio components. This way, if some of the components are executed in Agile (Adaptive) mode, they can be represented. Hence, it truly helps in communication and risk management approaches as defined in the Portfolio Management Plan. 
  5. An excellent communication tool with others, including portfolio managers, component managers and top executives, including the C-suites in an organization. 

Video Demonstration – Portfolio Roadmap *** NEW ***

To concretize your understanding, I’ve created the following video [duration: 05m:44s] to demonstrate the portfolio roadmap that we just created. This content of this video is referenced from my new PfMP book. Plug-in your earphones for a better audio-visual experience. 


Now that we have clearly understood portfolio and portfolio roadmap, their components and elements, I’ll come back to our opening quote. But I’d slightly rephrase it and say:

Project creates and delivers. Program coordinates and guides. Portfolio decides and drives. 

A portfolio not only decides the components to be taken, but also drives them in order to achieve the organizational strategies and objectives. The portfolio roadmap, on the other hand, is a key deliverable and indispensable tool used in portfolio management. The roadmap shows the strategic mapping, “to-be” vision of the portfolio, priorities, dependencies as well as the high-level plan.

The portfolio roadmap, along with the portfolio strategic plan and portfolio charter, drive the development of the portfolio management plan – the consolidated plan that drives the execution of the portfolio and its components.

I hope this article helps you in preparing for the Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP®) certification exam and also enables to apply your learning on portfolio roadmap in the real-world portfolio management. 

This series: Part – 1


This article was first published by MPUG.com on 12th September, 2023. The current one is an updated version.

Monday, April 01, 2024

Portfolio Management: Building and Managing A Practical Portfolio Roadmap with MS Project (Part – 1)


Project creates, programs guides, portfolio decides. 

    - Quote from bookI Want To Be A PfMP – the plain and simple way

Project is all about deliverables and it creates a unique product, service or result. Program is all about getting benefits by coordinating the components within its scope. Portfolio, on the other hand, is about meeting the strategic business objectives of an organization with a collection of right portfolio components. Hence, it decides. 

It’s portfolio that decides which component project to take and which one to drop, which component program to take and which one to drop. At the portfolio level, you not only authorize the components, but also can deactivate or even terminate a component. Most important of all, it’s portfolio which directly links the organizational strategy to a prioritized set of programs, projects and operations. Portfolio is completely strategic in nature, whereas programs and projects are typically tactical. Because with portfolios, an organization achieves its strategic goals and objectives, which are outlined in the organization’s strategic plan. 

By this time, you would have begun to realize the importance of portfolios and portfolio management. It’s key to have consistent success for an organization, deliver predictably and remain ahead of the curve. 

Now, to successfully enable the portfolio manager and hence, C-suite executives, a widely used artifact or key deliverable is the Portfolio Roadmap. In this article, we will know more on Portfolio Roadmap, and how to build such a roadmap with MS Project software.

This series: Part – 1

Portfolio Roadmap

Let’s start with the definition of portfolio roadmap. As per Project Management Institute (PMI®):

Portfolio roadmap is a document that provides the high-level strategic direction and portfolio information in a chronological fashion for portfolio management and ensures dependencies within the portfolio are established and evaluated.

Illustrating further on the above definition, you can say the following about the portfolio roadmap:

  • Graphically shows all the portfolio components (elements) to achieve organizational strategy and objectives.
  • A high-level plan for your portfolio and based on it, low-level details will be prepared. The low-level details include the low-level schedule and timeline of portfolio components such as projects, programs, operations or other work. 
  • Provides the foundation or initial basis on which internal and external dependencies are established and evaluated.

A portfolio roadmap is crucial because it shows the strategic intent of the organization in a visual (graphical) way. Irrespective of the approach used in portfolio management such as predictive (waterfall), adaptive (agile), hybrid or any other, the roadmap acts as an information radiator.

From Portfolio Strategic Plan to Portfolio Roadmap *** UPDATED ***

The significance of a portfolio roadmap is further emphasized in the flow of processes in portfolio management. A portfolio primarily exists to achieve the strategic business objectives of an organization. The vision, goals, strategies and objectives of a portfolio are listed in the Portfolio Strategic Plan (PfSP), which is created in Develop Portfolio Strategic Plan process. The PfSP drives the development of Portfolio Charter (PfC), created in the Develop Portfolio Charter process. 

The PfC links the portfolio to organizational strategy and formally authorizes the portfolio and portfolio structure. Next, PfC drives the development of the Portfolio Roadmap (PfRM), which is created with Define Portfolio Roadmap process. With the PfRM, the portfolio structure is visualized in a chronological manner. This is shown in the below figure. 

As shown above:

  • Organizational strategy and objectives drive the creation of PfSP.
  • PfSP, in turn, drives the development of PfC.
  • Next, PfC drives the definition and development of PfRM. 
  • All three above, i.e., the PfSP, PfC and PfRM drive the development of the Portfolio Management Plan (PfMP), which is another key deliverable in portfolio management. 

A Practical Portfolio Roadmap

With this background and fundamentals, let’s learn how to build a practical portfolio roadmap in a step-by-step manner. I’ll be using the sample given in PMI’s Standard for Portfolio Management, third edition and build on it with the MS Project software tool. 

To build the portfolio roadmap, we will have the following steps.

Step – 1: Add the Portfolio Components 

As noted earlier, a portfolio can have a number of components or initiatives. For our case, we have the following components:

  • Projects: Project A, B, C, D, E, F and G
  • Programs: Program A, B, C, D, E and F
  • Operations: Business Area 1, 2 and 3 Operations

Each of these components are to be added as tasks into the MS Project plan (.mpp) file. As you add, you should also provide the high-level timeline for each component as shown below. 

As shown above:

  • We have multiple projects, programs and operations added into the initial Portfolio Roadmap.
  • For each portfolio component, we have duration, start and finish dates. These are high-level details. The portfolio roadmap is prepared iteratively and repeatedly adapted. 
  • On the right side of the Gantt Chart, we have portfolio components represented as horizontal bars.

Also, do ensure that the timescale is properly customized. To do so, go to the timescale part of the Gantt Chart’s graphical side (on top), right click and choose “Timescale…”. 

As shown above:

  • We have just one tier (middle). 
  • Units used are “Months”.
  • Label used is “Jan ‘09”.

Adjusting the timescale will result in a better visualization for your roadmap.

Step – 2: Differentiate the Components 

In this step, we will differentiate the components to have more clarity in our graphical representation. For this purpose, I’ll add two custom fields by going to the Format tab > Columns group > Custom Fields command. Both the custom fields are of Boolean type. 

As shown above, we now have two Boolean custom fields: isProgram and isOps. These will be used in the next step.

Step – 3: Format the Bar Styles for Components

In this step, we will add two more bar styles by going to Format tab > Bar Styles group > Format drop down menu > Bar Styles command. 

For our program components, we will have green color-coded bars with the isProgram flag applied, whereas for the operation components, we will have orange color-coded bars with the isOps flag applied. 

In addition, for all the portfolio component bars, we will have the end shape changed to inverted triangles, along with the type and color. This is shown and highlighted below.  

As shown above:

  • For the project components, we have the default blue colored bars. The end shape has been changed. For the program components, we have the green colored bars. And for the operation, we have orange colored bars.
  • The respective conditions applied for the components are:
    • Normal, Active, Not Manually Scheduled (project components)
    • Normal, Active, Flag1, Not Manually Scheduled (program components)
    • Normal, Active, Flag2, Not Manually Scheduled (operation components)
  • For all bar styles, the end shapes have been changed. This clearly shows the finish time of the respective components. 

In the next part of this series, we will do more customization of the Portfolio Roadmap, which will make clear distinctions among component programs, component projects and component operation.

We will also have a video demonstration of this Practical Portfolio Roadmap.

This series: Part – 2