Agile portfolio management – ​​Agility on a global scale (2023)

What is agile portfolio management?

Agile portfolio management refers to the application of agile principles and practices to manage a project portfolio. It involves aligning strategy and execution, enhancing transparency across a project portfolio, and embracing cross-team collaboration and continuous improvement.

The adoption of agile principles for portfolio management has been a trend in recent years due to the growing popularity of agile working methods. As more companies recognize the effectiveness of agile practices across all areas of the business, they are trying to spread them across different organizational levels, not just the team level.

In the following paragraphs we will examine:

  • how agile portfolio management differs from the traditional work management approach;
  • What is involved in the concept of managing an agile portfolio?
  • and how to put it into practice.

Traditional vs. agile portfolio management

First, let's clarify what exactly a wallet is.

By definition, a portfolio generally represents a collection of projects, products, investments, programs, etc. in a single business unit within the organization. Managing this portfolio, in turn, is all about identifying projects for execution and prioritizing them in order to ensuring the right things are done at the right time.

Agile portfolio management – ​​Agility on a global scale (1)Photo credit:

Let's see how this is handled by different management approaches.

Traditional portfolio management

Traditionally, prioritizing project execution is done by planning a detailed project roadmap and then applying budgets based on those plans. Once funding is approved, the portfolio will be implemented.

Focusrequires a lot of planning in advanceto get projects approved, and in today's highly volatile business environment, relying on it is risky. Despite this, many organizations try to launch as many projects as possible at once, which has its downsides.

When too many projects are in progress, teams easily become overwhelmed by switching between too many priorities, resulting in low productivity.

Low transparency of the management processis another threat that can also create a disconnect between corporate strategy and its execution.

(Video) Portfolio Management for Agile

Agile Portfolio management

To address the challenges of the traditional approach, the agile portfolio management process applies the principles of “test, learn and adapt” and decentralized governance at the portfolio level.

For example, identifying priorities in Agile is done through a quickfeedback loops.Portfolio managers regularly review a specific set of projects and assess how they align with strategic initiatives. They also often engage in collaborative discussions with project managers or different team leaders to identify small experiments to test projects or improve the delivery of a particular product or service. This allows themcollect quick feedbackand make data-driven decisions.

Instead of creating very detailed project roadmaps to request quotes,Agile portfolio management involves multi-level planning and cascading shutdown. In turn, financial resources are allocated to experiments and value streams within the organization rather than separate projects.

Agile portfolio management – ​​Agility on a global scale (2)

While the traditional portfolio management approach encourages forward planning and strict budgeting, the agile way of managing a project portfolio encourages flexibility. Theagile planningIt allows portfolio managers to reallocate funds to new priorities based on changing client needs or new ideas that may be more valuable than old ones.

Main pillar of agile portfolio management

To maintain agility in their operations, agile organizations must:

  • focus on maintaining transparency,
  • constantly experiment to determine if a project is worthwhile, and
  • Align strategy with execution.

Together, these goals form the three main pillars of agile portfolio management. Let's break them down below and briefly discuss each of them.

1. Scaled Transparency

Creating transparency across the portfolio and overall project management processes is critical in today's rapidly changing business environment.

Traditionally, great value is placed on detailed status reportscarried out by portfolio or project managers. The problem is that this takes a lot of valuable time and the reports often turn out to be wrong because they are based on flawed estimates.

Agile, in turn, focuses on creating a common purpose for allfrom both a strategic and a project management point of view. By implementing connected visual dashboards, portfolio managers can easily capture ideas across multiple projects and create a shared understanding of what's happening in the portfolio. The desired result is the creation of an open environment where all interested parties can quickly check the status of a project, reducing the need to create lengthy reports.

Agile portfolio management – ​​Agility on a global scale (3)Visualize connected visual boards in Kanbanize

Instead of guessing based on intuition,Agility promotes visionProject plans that teams gradually refine. The idea is to take current data into account and retain the flexibility to update plans based on new information.

2. Continuous experimentation and agile portfolio prioritization

When you have a pool of project ideas, it can be difficult to determine which ones are more important than others at any given time. A bad practice would be to work on all of them as the possibility of overloading your teams is high and the risk of project failure increases. To avoid this, you must learn to select only the most valuable ones and prioritize them accordingly.

Here comes the concept of rapid experimentation, which is central to an agile environment. To determine if a particular project is worth sticking with, you can conduct small experiments as part of your validation process. The idea isGather data quickly before jumping into big commitments, only to find that the selected project does not bring the expected value.

(Video) Agile Portfolio Management

That being said, it's not uncommon to end up with a number of validated projects that are very valuable. So how do you decide which one runs first?

For that you can use the powerful concept ofDelay Costs (CoD)to make sequencing decisions. It is based on pure economics and shows how much money you would lose by delaying the delivery of the project.

So usuallythe higher the cost of the delay, the higher the priority of a particular project. If two or more projects have the same delay costs, you should start with the shortest one.Note, however, that you should use delay costs as inputs to other variables (e.g. market and technical risks) rather than using a “one size fits all” solution.

3. Coordination of strategy and implementation

Another key pillar of agile portfolio management is the alignment between strategy and execution, with the portfolio connecting the two.

Therefore, effective portfolio management requires a wayAlign highest business goals with project execution.

To do this in practice, theAn agile culture encourages frequent feedback loops that can be applied globally(via company address)j in the zone(between teams). You can review strategy, project risk, and deliverability by connecting these short planning and learning cycles across multiple organizational levels.

This allows you to quickly adapt to high-level changes and shift your operations to the most critical priority when needed.

How to manage an agile portfolio in practice?

To truly create an agile portfolio management process, you need a comprehensive management system to visualize, prioritize, and align your portfolio projects with strategic business initiatives. Here is theKanban-Workflow-Management-Methodesteps in to help you put theory into practice.

Apply Kanban at the portfolio level

Kanban's primary focus is visualization, work-in-progress containment, flow management, and continuous improvement. These can be applied at multiple levels within the organization, including the portfolio. This is done through the concept ofIn Portfolio Kanban, which allows you to track and optimize the flow of various business initiatives, individual or multiple projects or entire products.

Agile portfolio management – ​​Agility on a global scale (4)Visualization of Kanban practices applied at the project, program, and portfolio level

1. Connect strategy, portfolio and project execution

As mentioned above, one of the main topics in agile portfolio management is creating transparency within the portfolio. This way you maintain a common understanding of the status of the project and progress towards success. Ultimately the ideaBridging the gap between high-level planning and operationsto implement your organization's strategy.

In practice, this can be done by implementing appropriate Kanban boards. You can use them for visualizationinitiatives and issues, multiple projects, project results or individual tasks.

(Video) Introducing the Principles of Lean Portfolio Management for Business Agility with Shane Hastie

let's go fast.

To visualize selected initiatives or multiple projects based on their strategy, portfolio managers can create a dedicated portfolio kanban board. Depending on the scope of these projects or initiatives, they may be broken down into sub-projects within the same or a different body. To tie this structure together, we use parent-child project relationships in Kanbanize.Agile portfolio management – ​​Agility on a global scale (5)

View a dedicated portfolio kanban board in Kanbanize

As you advance to lower levels, you can continue to useKanban-Boardsto visualize different parts of the department or even the entire organization. This can be program or project management processes, down to the individual tasks that team members are responsible for. The idea is to create a central hub and keep an eye on your portfolio while keeping an eye on your execution across multiple teams.

At Kanbanize, for example, we combine management and team workspaces to visualize and connect project planning and day-to-day operational activities across teams. This gives you unsurpassed transparency across multiple projects.

Agile portfolio management – ​​Agility on a global scale (6)Connect strategic portfolio management with operational business using the portfolio kanban concept

2. Manage the flow of the portfolio

Once you have your portfolio kanban board set up, another important part is managing the flow of the project from concept to completion.

In Kanban, we go through thatmap the value stream of all our processes. For example, by implementing different commitment points, you can indicate the point in your process when a project is committed to refinement, execution, or ready for delivery to the customer.

Agile portfolio management – ​​Agility on a global scale (7)Display commitment points on a portfolio kanban board

It's important to note the refinement part before the "Ready to go" column on the Kanban board. This is essentially aBottom-up Kanban processeach project request is an option that portfolio managers must validate before committing to execution. At this stage of the process, you can buy yourself additional time to gather more details and make an appropriate decision on whether or not to participate in a project based on the new data.

This is an excellent time to run experiments to make sensible decisions.

(Video) Webinar: Agile Portfolio Management With Scrum@Scale

Another best practice for managing portfolio flow is to cap ongoing projects. This way you can avoid overloading your teams and match incoming demand with actual capacities. This ensures that the team's attention is always focused on the most critical initiatives, so you can focus on improving your overall performance.

Agile portfolio management – ​​Agility on a global scale (8)Limit ongoing projects on a portfolio kanban board

3. Check the portfolio regularly

Regular review of your project portfolio is an essential part of agile portfolio management. To do this uses Kanbanfeedback loops/cadencesat portfolio level.

The idea is regularCheck the status of ongoing projects, products or servicesand engage in joint discussions with middle management on issues such as identified dependencies or risks, available capacity across the structure, and shared resource requirements. This entry should be added by subordinate cadences spanning multiple teams in a department or across the organization.

Agile portfolio management – ​​Agility on a global scale (9)Kanban cadences or feedback loops for planning and improvement

Enforcing a regular portfolio cadence within management meetings and using portfolio Kanban boards to visualize what's important allows managers to prioritize new projects and initiatives and plan for whether they align with corporate strategy.jagged cadencesAt the portfolio level, it allows managers to adapt to changes in strategic direction and ensure the right things are being done at the right time.

4. Analyze metrics for continuous improvement

Like anything else that becomes successful, agile portfolio management requires continuous improvement. That's why you need a way to collect and analyze data to make better decisions.

In a Kanban system, you can do this by using different Lean/agile metricssuch as lead and throughput time, throughput and WIP (work in progress). With the help of various graphics such asCycle time scatter plots, maycontrol when projects in your portfolio are completedand the average time probability that they should flow through your system. that helps youIdentify outliers and emerging trendsso that you can make the necessary arrangements or discuss improvements in the administrative process.

Agile portfolio management – ​​Agility on a global scale (10)View when a work item is complete using the cycle time scatterplot in Kanbanize

Also, combine this data with a powerful technique such asMonte Carlo simulationsit will allow youcreate probabilistic forecasts based on historical datainstead of gut feeling guesses.

As a result, you have the ability to derive potential deliverables for multiple projects within your portfolio based on your team's actual capabilities to execute them.

(Video) 4 Key Mindset Shifts for SAFe Enterprise Agility | Lean Portfolio Management

Agile portfolio management – ​​Agility on a global scale (11)Monte Carlo example: How many

in summary

Agile portfolio management is a more flexible way to manage a portfolio of projects, programs, initiatives, etc., with an emphasis on decentralized control, transparency, continuous experimentation, prioritization, and better alignment between strategy and execution. Creating an effective agile portfolio management process requires you to have a complete management system in place so that you can:

  • Closing the gap between strategy, portfolio and project execution;
  • Manage portfolio flow;
  • Engage in regular cadences/feedback loops (e.g. portfolio reviews) to adapt to changes;
  • Analyze metrics and continuously improve.


What is the agile portfolio management strategy? ›

Summary: Agile portfolio management is an agile approach to managing a portfolio of projects. This is done in a way that includes continuous experimentation, decentralized control, and transparency.

What is a portfolio in scaled agile? ›

The portfolio is a collection of related development value streams that organize Agile Teams and Agile Release Trains around the solutions needed for a particular business area. It provides essential funding and minimum governance, including Lean Budget Guardrails that facilitate decentralized decision-making.

What is the role of a portfolio manager in agile? ›

An Agile portfolio manager will focus on two key themes: strategy and direction. They will form a strategic plan and project roadmap and update them regularly to reflect changes. Short-term investments are favored here, as they can be adjusted more easily than a long-term funding plan.

What is the key responsibility of Agile portfolio operations? ›

The responsibilities of Agile Portfolio Operations include: Coordinating value streams by ensuring there is cooperation between solutions. Supporting program execution through key stakeholders adopting a new way of working. Fostering operational excellence by improving practices, efficiency, and results.

What are the 5 phases of agile project management? ›

The five different phases of the Agile Project Management framework include the envision phase, the speculate phase, the explore phase, the adapt phase, and the close phase.

What are the top 5 agile techniques? ›

5 Important Types Of Agile Methodology
  • 1) Kanban. Originating from the Japanese language, the translation of the word 'Kanban' is “visual board or signboard” and is connected to the concept of “just in time”! ...
  • 2) Scrum. ...
  • 3) Extreme Programming (XP) ...
  • 4) Crystal. ...
  • 5) Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)

What are 3 portfolio components? ›

What are the Components of a Portfolio?
  • Equity. Equity or stock is the most common component. ...
  • Fixed Income. This is again the common and oldest component. ...
  • Cash and Cash Equivalents. This component is also known as a money market instrument, as investors prefer this for a short-term duration. ...
  • Real Estate. ...
  • Gold. ...
  • Alternatives.
Oct 19, 2022

What are the four components of portfolio? ›

Any investment process must involve planning, organization, leadership and control to some extent in order to be considered managed. However, any of these four elements can be done well or poorly, and this will impact returns.

What are the four basic component of project portfolio management? ›

Based on the information above, project portfolio management can be broken down into four basic components: selecting the right projects, optimizing the portfolio, protecting the portfolio's value, and improving portfolio processes.

What is the salary of agile portfolio manager? ›

agile portfolio manager $131,900 jobs.

What are the key responsibilities of a portfolio manager? ›

  • Provide client consultation to develop investment objectives.
  • Provide advice and guidance for investment opportunities to customers.
  • Create reports on investment performance and activity.
  • Communicate with clients about their accounts, market conditions and economic trends.

What is the difference between traditional and agile portfolio management? ›

Agile project management emphasizes customer satisfaction and working software. Traditional project management focuses on planning and predictability. Focusing on following a strict plan and meeting project requirements. Permits an interactive and collaborative approach between the development team and the customer.

What are the 3 core agile roles? ›

Scrum has three roles: product owner, scrum master, and the development team members.

How does project portfolio management contribute to organizational agility? ›

In today's business environment, organizational agility has become a critical success factor for companies to stay competitive. Project Portfolio Management (PPM) is a powerful tool that helps organizations to achieve agility by aligning project portfolios with strategic goals and optimizing resource allocation.

Who is responsible for managing the portfolio Kanban scaled agile? ›

LPM is responsible for the Kanban portfolio, which is often used during the strategic portfolio review and portfolio sync events to manage and monitor the flow of epics.

What are the 5 C's of Agile management? ›

The 5 Cs of managing projects, Complexity, Criticality, Compliance, Culture and Compassion, tell you how much and how often to do the things we do. There are five, they fit on your hand, and they go in order. The first three, complexity, criticality and compliance, are about the work, and that's where we begin.

What are the 5 C's in Agile? ›

The purpose of the framework is to give you a north star by identifying the five core elements of an agile business: culture, capital, capabilities, collaboration, and customers.

What are the 4 C's of agile? ›

To help the agile and other project managers remember how to best hold people accountable, I like to think of the 4Cs: clarity, commitment, comment, coach.

What are the three tools in portfolio management? ›

What are the three tools in portfolio management?
  • Project Planning.
  • Resource Management.
  • Budget Management.
May 9, 2022

What are 5 things a great portfolio includes? ›

As you begin to create your portfolio, there are several different categories that you should consider: Personal Information, Values, Personal Goals and History, Accomplishments and Job History, Skills and Attributes, Education and Training as well as Testimonials and Recommendations.

What are the 5 phases of portfolio management? ›

Processes of Portfolio Management
  • Step 1 – Identification of objectives. ...
  • Step 2 – Estimating the capital market. ...
  • Step 3 – Decisions about asset allocation. ...
  • Step 4 – Formulating suitable portfolio strategies. ...
  • Step 5 – Selecting of profitable investment and securities. ...
  • Step 6 – Implementing portfolio. ...
  • Step 7 – ...
  • Step 8 –

What are the 2 main types of portfolio? ›

There are two main types of portfolio assessments: “instructional” or “working” portfolios, and “showcase” portfolios. Instructional or working portfolios are formative in nature. They allow a student to demonstrate his or her ability to perform a particular skill. Showcase portfolios are summative in nature.

What are the key elements of portfolio? ›

12 elements of a career portfolio
  • Mission statement. ...
  • Brief biography. ...
  • Resume. ...
  • Marketable skills. ...
  • Professional accomplishments. ...
  • Transcripts, degrees, licenses and certifications. ...
  • Professional development. ...
  • Volunteer experience.
Mar 16, 2023

What are the 4 C's in project management? ›

To solve this problem, PBL has evolved to include a new Gold Standard that incorporates the “Four Cs” of the Partnership for 21st Century Learning: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.

What are the 6 parts of portfolio? ›

What Should My Portfolio Contain?
  • Table of Contents.
  • Career and professional development goals, tailored for each interviewer.
  • Work philosophy statement; personal mission statement.
  • List of areas of expertise.
  • Works in progress (activities and projects)

What is the highest salary for an agile coach? ›


Are agile coaches paid well? ›

The ultimate purpose of an agile coach is to provide agile teams with the necessary information. On average, a senior Agile coach who works on a multi-team level can earn between $122,000 and $138,000 per year.

What is the highest salary for a portfolio manager? ›

Portfolio Manager salary in India ranges between ₹ 2.9 Lakhs to ₹ 31.0 Lakhs with an average annual salary of ₹ 7.0 Lakhs.

What is the most important trait of a portfolio manager? ›

What Makes a Successful Portfolio Manager:
  • Being Proactive. Understanding financial markets is tricky. ...
  • Always Communicating. ...
  • Staying Organized. ...
  • Remaining Curious. ...
  • Understanding the Win-Lose Ratio. ...
  • Practicing Humility. ...
  • Understanding Analytics. ...
  • Exuding Confidence.
Jun 3, 2020

What skills do you need to be a portfolio manager? ›

The Skills Necessary For A Portfolio Manager For The Success Of A Management Sector.
  • Strong emotional control. A decision-maker who is emotional will be a disaster. ...
  • Competitive spirit. Being in portfolio management is a very competitive field. ...
  • Decisive. ...
  • Analytical Ability. ...
  • Tenacity. ...
  • Humility. ...
  • Anticipation. ...
  • Communication.

What does a portfolio manager do on a daily basis? ›

Portfolio managers make investments and manage day-to-day trading for their clients and investment firms. These professionals put in long hours on weekdays and often work weekends. Portfolio managers must have a thorough interest in the markets and the economy.

What is agility in project management? ›

Agility is the project team's ability to quickly change the project plan as a response to customer or stakeholder needs, market or technology demands in order to achieve better project and product performance in an innovative and dynamic project environment.

Why is it difficult to apply Agile PM to large scale projects? ›

In conclusion, Agile Project Management is not a good fit for large-scale projects because it is difficult to manage large amounts of data and coordinate the efforts of multiple teams at the same time.

What are the 3 C's of agile leadership? ›

In this talk we'll introduce DevOps and discuss the three C's of DevOps: Character, Collaboration, and Community.

What are the 4 core values of scaled agile framework? ›

The four Core Values of alignment, transparency, respect for people, and relentless improvement represent the foundational beliefs that are key to SAFe's effectiveness. These tenets help guide the behaviors and actions of everyone participating in a SAFe portfolio.

What are the three pillars of agile Scrum? ›

If you carefully scrutinize scrum, you will find again and again the three pillars of empirical process control: transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

What is the agile portfolio management approach? ›

Agile portfolio management refers to applying Agile principles and practices to manage a portfolio of projects. It involves aligning strategy and execution, improving transparency across a portfolio of projects, and embracing cross-team collaboration and continuous improvement.

What is the agile portfolio management process? ›

“Agile portfolio management deals with how an organization identifies, prioritizes, organizes and manages different products. This is done in a streamlined way in order to optimize the development of value in a manner that's sustainable in the long run…

What are the main types of portfolio management strategies? ›

Broadly speaking, there are only two types of portfolio management strategies: passive investing and active investing.

What are the three elements of portfolio strategy? ›

A successful Project Portfolio Management solution consists of three fundamental components that must be implemented in adherence to business value and strategy.
  • 1 – Project Selection. ...
  • 2 – Project Resources. ...
  • 3 – Project Information.
Jul 17, 2017

What is portfolio strategy approach? ›

A portfolio planning approach involves analyzing a firm's entire collection of businesses relative to one another. Two of the most widely used portfolio planning approaches include the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) matrix and the General Electric (GE) approach.

Why is Agile preferred over traditional project management? ›

Benefits of Agile project management

Agile follows an iterative process where projects are divided into sprints of a shorter span. Unlike the traditional approach, less time is spent on upfront planning and prioritization as agile is more flexible in changes and specifications developments.

What are the 4 elements of portfolio management? ›

4 Key Elements of Strong Investment Portfolios
  • Effective diversification—beyond asset allocation. Traditional views of diversification tend to focus on asset classes (e.g., equity, fixed income). ...
  • Active management—tactical asset allocation strategy. ...
  • Cost efficiency. ...
  • Tax efficiency.
Jan 5, 2019

What are the 3 phases of project portfolio management? ›

The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines three phases to the portfolio lifecycle or process: plan, authorize, and monitor and control. PMI further classifies these three phases into two groups: the aligning process group and the monitoring and controlling process group.

What are the seven components of a portfolio strategy? ›

The portfolio strategy in practice can be reduced to seven interrelated components: choice, autonomy, talent, varied supports, accountability, funding, and public engagement.

What are the two approaches of portfolio management? ›

Approaches of Portfolio Construction - Security Analysis and Investment Management. Commonly, there are two approaches in the construction of the portfolio of securities viz. traditional approach and Markowitz efficient frontier approach.

What is the best known portfolio planning method? ›

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Matrix is the best-known approach to portfolio planning (Table 8.5). Using the matrix requires a firm's businesses to be categorized as high or low along two dimensions: its share of the market and the growth rate of its industry.


1. Unlock Business Agility with Lean Portfolio Management
(Project Online)
2. Enabling & Scaling Team Agility | Scaled Agile, Inc & AgilityHealth®
(Agile Training Videos)
3. SAFe Explained in Five Minutes
(Scaled Agile, Inc.)
4. Re-Thinking Portfolio Management and Capacity Planning - Agile
(Agile Training Videos)
5. Webinar: Agile Portfolio Management for Outcomes Using Timeboxes with Brian Levy and Rhonda Coombes
6. Friends from World: Principles of Lean Portfolio Management for Business Agility with Shane Hastie


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