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15 08, 2015

Your First Portfolio Review Won’t Go As Planned

By |2017-05-23T15:42:00-08:00August 15th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

It doesn’t matter how much you think you’ve prepared, how many run-throughs you’ve done, how many assurances you have from your project teams that all the data will be there, and be correct. Something will go wrong: a critical piece of data will be missing, the slides will be wrong, an unanswerable question will derail the discussion. Like an opening night on Broadway or the first docking attempt between two orbiting spaceships, there is simply no way to anticipate what might go wrong—there are no substitutes for the lessons you learn during your inaugural attempt at a portfolio review.

So what can you do about it? In advance of that first review, less than you would like. Data will arrive late, incomplete, or not at all, and the review will happen anyway, warts and all. But you can embrace this opportunity to learn from the experience and make the next portfolio review better.

11 08, 2015

The R&D executive read the first slide of the portfolio review; you won’t believe what happened next!

By |2017-05-23T15:42:00-08:00August 11th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

paper-stackIt’s every portfolio manager’s nightmare.

The annual portfolio review is about to kick off. Hundreds of hours of preparation have gone into the main presentation’s PowerPoint deck, and hundreds more into each of the backup decks, readied in case management asks about the details of any of the projects under discussion. Information encompassing over a hundred different initiatives has been painstakingly compiled and distilled into slide after slide.
The portfolio team is ready to review the current budget and the changes in the portfolio since the last review, and to make recommendations for adjustments to keep R&D activities aligned with strategic goals. Everything is in place. Or so the manager thinks.

Then, the first slide goes up on the wall, summarizing spending since the last review meeting and listing the estimated total value of each division’s initiatives. The manager highlights key milestones each division has met, and heads all around the room nod.

Except one.
 The leader of one products division is clearly not happy. His expression sours as he looks at the slide. “You’ve understated the value of our projects by at least $400 million,” he complains.

“But we took these figures directly from your product team summary spreadsheet,” says the portfolio manager.

“Which one?” the exec demands. “We updated that spreadsheet last week based on the market research report from last quarter.”

“Oh that explains it,” the manager says, relieved. “We began building this deck four weeks ago, and we took the latest spreadsheet available at that point.”

The exec is not mollified. “I don’t think this meeting is an effective use of my time, or anyone else’s for that matter, if we don’t have current information.” He begins gathering up his things. “Let’s postpone until you can get all your ducks in a row.” The meeting is over before it has begun.

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