I chaired the afternoon seminars at Project Days on November 31 in Helsinki for Thinking Portfolio, a partner of the event.

There were three great presentations on how to build, implement, and expand project portfolio management for IT and development projects. The presenting companies were Fennia (insurance), Tamro (pharmaceuticals), and Finnair (airline).

It was especially interesting to hear how the presenters had sold the concept of systematic portfolio management in their respective firms. They had used “soft” methods, like face-to-face meetings, campaigns, internal “trade shows”, personal training, competitions, and so on. The core motivational question to answer  was “what’s in it for me?” Communication had to be tailored for each internal stakeholder, based on their values and interests.

The presenters had also used “hard” methods. At Finnair, for example, an IT project does not exist if it is not presented correctly in the portfolio. Furthermore, half-year development budgets are calculated from the total budgets of planned projects in the portfolio. Apart from that, no extra money is available.

In summary, I would say that when you’re trying to sell a change inside your organization, you’ll have to master many skills: marketing, psychology, communication, and business management. Prefer soft tactics, but also provide hard incentives to make clear that you’re serious.

Aarni Heiskanen, Managing Director, AE Partners

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