Project Portfolio Management
for Federal Agencies

Modernizing & Evolving Federal Enterprises Through Strategic Project Portfolio Management

Government agencies balancing technological change, static budgets, and increasing citizen expectations are transforming and rethinking how they operate to achieve mission success. In this endeavor, Agency leaders are seeking and adopting new methods to deliver high quality services and meet evolving mission requirements in ways that are minimally disruptive to the business.

One of the most effective tools government sector leaders have found to manage change and remain agile, responsive and relevant has been Project Portfolio Management (PPM). Project Portfolio Management is a methodology that centralizes the management of business processes, methods, and technologies to enable stakeholders to analyze and collectively manage current or proposed projects based on certain criteria or KPIs. In recent years PPM has become the gold standard for massive organizations managing many complex projects, enabling these organizations to better work together and more effectively collaborate across the enterprise.

Unique Needs for Public Sector
Project Portfolio Management

At any given time, government organizations must balance delivery across a multitude of evolving service and systems development projects – while ensuring transparency, compliance, and mission requirements are continuously maintained. In addition to the management challenges that come with the complexity and scale of federal projects, organizations also face increased demand and constraint surrounding critical business factors. This dynamic has put improving cost efficiency, elevating service delivery, maintaining basic and legacy services in more competitive markets, minimizing risk, and improving overall organizational process efficiency as a top priority for every leader.

With so many competing factors, it can be difficult for government organizations to make critical business decisions in a data-driven way. There is an increasing amount of scrutiny on how EAs, PMs, PMOs, and CTO/CIOs spend their project dollars and plan for the future. Larger organizations face the challenge of understanding and integrating many portfolios with different PPM tools, databases, processes, compliance requirements, and financial spend. Some government offices still manage hundreds of millions of dollars with little more than a spreadsheet. What’s more, strategic plans and enterprise architectures are often ignored and have little impact on project and spending decisions. This creates a situation where senior and accountable decision-makers do not know how their budgets are being spent and used at the project level, and have no tools to ensure compliance and transparency. These challenges tend to deepen as the organization continues to grow, unless more sophisticated and scalable solutions are put into place.

Project Portfolio Management provides senior decision-makers and line managers with a deeper understanding of their authoritative data — both vertically and horizontally. This understanding helps the organization in many ways, including: avoiding duplicated capabilities and projects, better leveraging capabilities, assessing existing systems prior to new capabilities being acquired, getting ahead of project and program overruns, identifying project budget inequities, running strategic plan and EA gap analysis, tracking of personnel and their skill sets, and more. Analyzing duplicated processes also offers ways to identify opportunities for potential shared resources that may exist, leading to cost savings.

Portfolio management as a
value driver for government

Project Portfolio Management (PPM) has proven to be a powerful tool for public sector organizations, offering an effective way to organize and orchestrate activities and accomplish results across a diverse range of competing and simultaneous range of programs and projects. While portfolio management has become popular primarily for its effectiveness in fostering more agile, resilient enterprises, PPM offers a wealth of benefits beyond just these.

One of the biggest ways PPM drives value in organizations is by enabling an enterprise-wide perspective of projects that are underway and tools for optimally managing future risk. This is in contrast to more traditional approaches, which tend to view the program portfolio as a static, sequential series of projects and discussions amongst stakeholders. PPM offers a dynamic, integrated approach and complete visibility of the project and program landscape so that there is relational and contextual understanding behind program and portfolio management activities across the enterprise.

Without a portfolio management function in place, traditional bureaucratic management of public sector portfolios can dramatically limit the potential impact of government agencies. A key problem is the focus of traditional models, which do not typically place enough emphasis on cross-portfolio relationships, operational efficiency, consistent product delivery, and continual improvement.

When projects are experiencing issues or challenges, PPM allows public sector stakeholders to look for and critically evaluate solutions from a holistic versus isolated perspective. This enables government enterprises to remain agile, pivot in real time and successfully deliver on mission requirements—while minimizing risk and maximizing benefit to the enterprise with each new change.

Project portfolio
management for effective government planning

A fundamental area of value that portfolio management supports within private and public sector organizations is allowing for structured, value-based planning processes. Most public sector organizations operate with annual planning, which is frequently focused on work that needs to be completed. This is in contrast to the PPM approach, which focuses on how the organization will be better because of the work that is completed.

By unifying and aligning strategic decision making and execution, project execution and “business as usual” can in and of itself become a value driver for government organizations.

This is possible for a few reasons. First, when projects are managed and approached as part of a larger portfolio framework, project managers have an infrastructure of support behind their initiatives, versus when projects are managed as standalone programs. Beyond this, portfolio management offers PMOs and PMs alike clarity and guidance on the purpose and context of the project within the lens of the broader enterprise. It also enables them to understand and help advance their cause if a sponsor or other stakeholder’s assistance is needed.

PPM as a Force Multiplier
for Government Entities

Another core benefit is that PPM allows the organization to leverage the full power of existing project management expertise to identify gaps, seize opportunities, and collaborate on solutions.

PPM frameworks and software gives all PMs access to a broad range of possible solutions to any project issues they encounter and allows the organization to evolve and build on lessons learned in a more consistent way. Instead of operating in silos and resolving their own problems (often reinventing the wheel), PPM solutions laterally connect projects with portfolio management stakeholders and provide visibility, transparency and collaborative power to ensure all initiatives are set up to succeed. This is an especially valuable tool for government sector PMs, who frequently face difficult program challenges in relative isolation and with little support.

The standard practice of PMs operating within their designated individual departments, combined with the large amount of projects within their jurisdiction, results in unintentionally myopic decision-making; limits exposure to the broader organizational project management community; and prevents the flow of knowledge sharing and support that could be available to them.

Lateral Visibility & Data-Driven Enterprise Analytics for Effective Governance

The benefit and importance of lateral visibility to the enterprise cannot be overstated or overvalued. Even more, data-driven project portfolio management is a critical and key lever for driving value, increasing engagement, improving productivity, and reducing turnover for public sector organizations.

Data-driven tools like InQuisient keep the focus on what really matters for PPM & PMO teams, helping each stakeholder to see the full picture, ask the right questions and get data-driven answers.

Are projects aligned
with our business strategy?

What is the true performance
and results of our projects/programs?

Is our current portfolio
the right mix of projects?

Are we allocating and managing
our resources effectively?

Are projects being
managed properly?

Today, PPM involves much more than monitoring budgets, optimizing performance, balancing capacity against demand, or effectively prioritizing capabilities and resources. More than ever, modern enterprises must have all of their data available, at all times, for effective PPM that increases business agility and empowers cross-departmental teams to deliver at-speed.

PPM Platform Benefits for Government Enterprises

Reduces project cycle times as much as 10%

Projects are 38% more likely to be completed on-budget

2x more likely to realize expected ROI

Reduces the failure rate of projects undertaken as much as 15%

25% less time spent on administrative management of projects

Strong correlation between PPM systems, maturity of PPM practices and overall reported ROI

Article Sources:

Romano, L. (2015). Project portfolio goes to public sector: a change driver to pass through complexity. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2015—EMEA, London, England. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Martinsuo, M. & Dietrich, P. H. (2002). Public sector requirements towards project portfolio management. Paper presented at PMI® Research Conference 2002: Frontiers of Project Management Research and Applications, Seattle, Washington. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Caliste, A. L. E. (2012). The project management project—challenges in the public sector. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2012—North America, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Federal and State Governments from all over use InQuisient as their
preferred Project Portfolio Management software to manage their projects and enterprise planning.



IQ not only saves money and improves ROI of existing investments, it eliminates the incredible amount of time and resources that used to be spent trying to collect the right data so that we could make the right decision.

At the end of the day, it’s about achieving the mission. IQ was a critical part of ensuring we had data truth at our fingertips to make the right decisions and to ensure we met all our strategic initiatives.

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