Muddled Management of Portfolios

Like most people these days I seldom truly read a book - properly. I read in fits and starts, I speed read sections and skip others entirely. So perhaps I missed something, but I had hoped the new book Management of Portfolios™ would be about portfolios in general not project portfolios in particular. It's not. it's all about projects. How can one OGC product so utterly disregard another?

Management of Portfolios (MoP) talks about managing holisitically and balancing change against BAU, but it doesn't actually manage a service through its lifecycle.

I got excited when I read that the book addresses "facilitating effective delivery and benefits realization", but it wasn't as I thought. The whole "Portfolio Delivery Cycle" ends with "Handover and close out". What it calls "delivery" is actually "build". "Operations" is shown as an arrow disappearing into the sunset. In other words MoP can't escape its project roots to see beyond the project scope. It manages project portfolios not service portfolios, and that is a fatally flawed approach if one truly wants to achieve balance. Your projects will eat BAU alive.

This seems odd given that it originates from OGC. Management of Portfolios is an ITIL stablemate and comes out within a year of the excellent new revision of Service Strategy, which has a whole section on Portfolio Management. Real portfolios: portfolios of services through their lifecycles. I suggested years ago that the ITIL people and the PRINCE2 people don't talk. This book is further evidence of the fact that nobody is crossing hallways at OGC. At the same time that ISACA are industriously merging all their disparate bodies of knowledge into COBIT 5, OGC - or just the Cabinet Office as it is now - has to do better. One can expect some differing views between books, but a total and utter disconnect - bordering on contradiction - is unexpected and unacceptable.

I can only assume it is retaliation for ITIL ignoring PRINCE2. At least ITIL makes a couple of token mentions of PRINCE2.




When someone talks to me in terms of Project or Program Portfolios and dismisses the vast inventory of all other types of relevant enterprise Portfolios that need to be accounted for and proactively managed, I usually get very quick insight into how much Business and/or IT experience he or she actually does (or doesn't) have.

My humble advice... When you come across a person that doesn't understand the many different types of Portfolios that are relevant to an enterprise, don't sit there and argue with them or try to re-educate them. Just move on to someone who does get it. This advice should scale easily to written artifacts that don't get it, either.

My Best,

Frank Guerino, Chairman
The International Foundation for Information Technology (IF4IT)

Frank, I agree with you but

Frank, I agree with you but trying doing that within an organization that works on a shared services model?? is not so easy... I am with you but it damn difficult to make it happen.


I'm surprised you find the Strategy book "excellent"

I'm only surprised that you find the Strategy book "excellent". But to be fair besides Business Relationship Management I haven't read anything else in the new revision (I find the one page ISO 20000 coverage of the subject more straight forward than the 30 pages of in ITIL. ITIL didn't say anything wrong, but after reading those pages I was more confused about the subject in terms of practical implementation).

I find the Strategy book too theoretical with little to no guidance for implementations. But if you insist it's excellent I'll give it another chance.



I confess I might be biased, since I contributed one tiny bit of the Service Strategy rewrite. *blush*

And as this post started out saying, I seldom really read a book any more and this one is no different. I have dipped and sampled and scanned. The "excellent" word springs to mind relative to the one it is replacing. This one has more explanation and more readability. I'm surprised you find it too theoretical. What can Service Strategy be about other than business theory? That's the point: to open ITSM eyes to more than process. And name one ITIL core book that has guidance on implementation.

I'll be the first to take potshots at the weaknesses as we find them. I dream of having the time to deconstruct it properly. I've already raised the Business Relationship naming issue on Twitter. But I find it useful and better, and so far it hasn't let me down badly. Was "excellent" too strong a word? I don't think so.

Besides, I'm sharing the marquee with David Cannon at the itSMF conference in South Africa next March, so I need to be polite for the beers to be enjoyable :)

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