Insights > Project and Portfolio management

Are you on the Blue Line?

Depending on your organisation’s size and the number of development projects that you have running right nowthere is a level of capability that is right for you. We represent this by the blue line in this diagram:  

An organisation on this line is in perfect balance – where the capabilities have developed to best facilitate delivery of any project or a portfolio of projectsThese capabilities need to change as the size of the organisation changes as well as with evolving context.  

However, we’ve seen many companies that don’t have this balance right. Small organisations may struggle if they don’t evolve to stay on the line. Equally, others may set over-ambitious goals for sophistication, when ‘good’ is perfectly adequate. 

You may not be able to judge if you are on the blue line. We can help you to assess your current position and if required, build a roadmap to get you there. 




Typically a biotech starts with simple tools such as homebuilt spreadsheets – but these become increasingly unwieldy and only understood by few in the organisation – so to solve that problem, they buy a IT portfolio management system that would be more appropriate in a big corporation, without defining the working practices required to fully utilise these tools.  Equally they’ve created many project-related job roles from a small cadre of people. They may have put in place over-ambitious training and team development before basic systems are established. 

A larger, more complex organisation may have invested appropriately in expensive solutions and have built many processes and tools for every eventuality. However, challenges may well be addressed by layering multiple solutions without eliminating all the inefficiencies and redundancies. There is a lack of focus on continuous improvement. Enterprise tools may generate prodigious amounts of data but it’s not directed to the personnel that need it. Attempts at innovation run into a paralysing wall of delays.

The symptoms of this: 

  • Sophisticated software for simple tasks 
  • Project teams launched without confused roles
  • In small companies – the leadership are also looking after details of every project 
  • Inadequate / missing processes – or too many to understand which is the right one
  • Over-ambitious training and development initiatives – basics not getting done 
  • Staff do not understand the value of what they are doing
  • Too many KPIs without a focus on basic status / control reports OR overly complex reports


In some organisations, essential developments required as they grow in size are not paid sufficient attention, leading to this situation. In a smaller, but growing company, what worked when there was one project doesn’t work now.  Project managers have no professional training; tools such as MS project are being used but very inconsistently so rolling up information to a portfolio level is hard work. Projects ’amble’ into life without proper definition. Roles and responsibilities are not clear, even that of the project team is poorly defined and there are no project charters. 

A much larger organisation may well have more mature systems and a Project Management Office (PMO) tasked to implement them. But despite individual projects being run professionally, there is a real need to integrate work across the organisation; to properly manage the portfolio of projects; to look at risk, decision-making and metrics with standardised, cross-organisation tools. Conflict frequently erupts between project managers and line managers over allocation of resources – matrix management does not operate properly; PMs expend wasteful effort influencing multiple governance committees of experts / Heads of functions.

The symptoms of this: 

  • In the small company we may find Excel sheets still being used for plans – with no consistency or connectivity 
  • Management by email and PowerPoint as people find ad-hoc ways around overlapping and confusing systems
  • Proper stages/gates in project processes are missing or paid little attention. No link with resource allocation.
  • No TPPs or milestones 
  • Poor modelling and forecasting 
  • Poor portfolio / priority thinking and decision making 
  • Little formal review and learning activity – lessons learned not transferred to other projects 


We can get you onto the blue line! 

In conversation with you and your colleagues, we can quickly diagnose where you sit with respect to the optimum level of process and systematic operations that is right for your current situation and best for future growth. 

We can help you develop a road map to get to the most effective spot. You will be able to develop the best balance – quickly and easily. 

Contact us to discuss at any time.

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