project portfolio governance BrightWork

A Brief Introduction to Project Portfolio Governance

May 16, 2019 by

Trying to run successful project management in an organization without knowing what projects are underway, what projects are planned, and who is doing which work is like flying blind.  Inevitably, some projects are doomed from the start.


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An article in CIO Magazine shared two interesting anecdotes about poor project visibility:

  • A director of information services in one organization estimated that his department had 20 projects in flight. Turns out, they had 60!
  • In another organization, three project managers arrived at a planning meeting with project plans that all required 100 percent of available resources.


Situations like this are quite common in project management, making strong project portfolio governance essential.

The rest of this article will explore the importance of project portfolio governance in an organization, including a few ways a tool like BrightWork can help!


What is Project Portfolio Governance?

The Association for Project Management defines project portfolio governance as:

“the selection, prioritization, and control of an organization’s projects and programmes in line with its strategic objectives and capacity to deliver. The goal is to balance change initiatives and business-as-usual while optimizing return on investment.”


Just because someone has an idea for a project, it doesn’t mean it should happen regardless of where it came from.

You need to have a process in place for collecting ranking all potential projects and weighing them up against the stated strategic goals of the organization.

That’s what project portfolio governance is all about: ensuring projects have a strategic fit with the organization. It’s about having the processes in place to ensure that projects are delivering value.

Secondly, project portfolio governance provides a mechanism to track project progress. Strong project portfolio governance will give you the visibility to know how projects are doing and know when projects go off-track.


2 Ways to Establish Project Portfolio Governance with BrightWork

1. Project Request Management

One of the most important aspects of project portfolio governance is making sure projects are aligned with the strategic objectives of the organization.  This is about picking the project that will deliver the most value and the highest return on investment.

That’s easier said than done!

To achieve this balance in an objective way, you need a project request management process.  Having a process to manage new project requests helps you manage the whole pipeline – from new requests to ranking criteria, and creating a new project site.

BrightWork has a template called the Project Request Manager, which provides the tools and structure you need to manage the pipeline of new projects.

The template is split into four different states: DraftReviewPending Decision, and Approved or Rejected. At any stage, a request can be sent back to the previous step for more information.


BrightWork Project Request


The template ensures stakeholders can track the progress of a project request through the process of drafting, reviewing, ranking, and approval.

All requests are tracked in a ‘command center’.

SharePoint project request management


Once a request is approved, the relevant project manager can use the original request to launch a new site, carrying over key information to the project. This ensures the new project has the best possible start!


2. Project Visibility and Reporting

The second aspect of project portfolio governance is having a reporting structure that provides visibility across all projects that are underway.  BrightWork supports a hierarchical project structure in SharePoint.

A project can be managed in individual sites that act as hubs for all project-related tasks and reports.  With BrightWork, you can report across all those sites in a portfolio dashboard.

Portfolio dashboards roll up data from multiple projects for an ‘at-a-glance report on health’ across all projects.

Users can easily drill down into individual projects to check on issues or simply find more detail at the project level.

Further, you can build out the hierarchy to mimic your organizational structure.

SharePoint project office template



Project portfolio governance is all about making sure that all projects are aligned with strategic goals and delivering value.

With a project portfolio management solution like BrightWork, implementing the business processes and reporting structures required for good project portfolio governance is very straightforward.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2017 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Image credit

Billy Guinan

Billy is a Demand Generation Manager at BrightWork, where he helps customers successfully manage their projects and portfolios using SharePoint.

Billy is a graduate of the Villanova School of Business and holds a Master’s degree from National University of Ireland, Galway. Outside of BrightWork, he enjoys reading, trying to golf, and walking his pug named Nova.
Billy Guinan

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