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 on 12th September, 2023. The current one is an updated version.

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