Manage your project portfolio

Most books on project management are written for someone managing one project at a time, working with a team of people who only work on that project.¬† Some companies work that way, but certainly not all do. I’ve seldom worked that way. At one point I “managed” so many projects that I could not tell you the exact number without looking at my list.

Johanna Rothman’s new book Manage Your Project Portfolio¬†(ISBN 1934356298) addresses the challenges of managing not just one project but a portfolio of projects. The book does not tell you how to work multiple simultaneous projects but rather how to get away from working on multiple projects¬† by prioritizing them and working on one at a time.

Here are a couple quotes from the beginning of the book.

Quite often I have the chance to visit a team to help management figure out why they’re not making much progress. When I get there, I find a small team working on more projects than they have people.

Multitasking occurs when managers don’t make decisions about which projects to do first, second, third, last, and even more important, never.

I wish I could have read Johanna Rothman’s book a decade ago. On the other hand, I would not have appreciated the book as much a decade ago. Still, it might have helped me prevent some of the errors I made. I hope that many people will read the book before they become overwhelmed and appreciate its wisdom.

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4 thoughts on “Manage your project portfolio

  1. How generalizable are the ideas in this book? I noticed it was part of the pragmatic programmer series, and I was wondering whether most of the principles would apply to any sort of organization structured into projects, or whether most of the principles apply mainly to programming/software development.

  2. Good question. The book was written with software projects in mind, but I’d say most of the principles in the book apply to project management in general.

    One of Gerald Weinberg’s rules is “it’s always a people problem,” even if it looks like a technical problem. And this book deals with people problems: managing expectations, political problems, how to say “no,” etc.

  3. Thanks for the book suggestion. Managing multiple projects is definitely a dynamic which hasn’t been covered very much, but is a reality especially with consulting. Project management tools wouldn’t do badly by adopting this perspective as well.

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