Portfolio, Program and Project Management 101 For Husbands

On April 18, 2017 by mohitsawhney

You’ve made a new friend at work after years. Ravi. He’s intelligent, smart and ambitious. You rarely find that combo in your friends. Even if you do, you don’t want to admit it. Ego, I hate ya!

Ravi is looking for a match. That’s one of his goals for 2017. The day finally comes when he joins back work after a break and tells you that it’s a done deal! Ravi tells you that You have to come to his wedding. There is enough time to plan. It’s January and the wedding is in April. And with family. No excuses!

Of course. I will come, you say.  

The e-wedding invitation follows.

With God’s grace, and our parent’s blessings, the day has come

when Ursala & I are taking a step forward

to begin a wonderful life together!

You want to attend his wedding. However, you can’t really decide right away. You have to go home and talk to your wife about it. Like all decisions where the family is involved, this has to pass through a selection process where you guys will decide whether this will be added as another item to the existing set of things you are already doing i.e. your Portfolio. 

This idea is hence taken to your HMO (Home Management Office) where this selection / filtering of ideas happens. Just like your PMO (Project Management Office) at work.

Potential Portfolio –> Pipeline Portfolio –>Active Portfolio

(new idea) (approved ideas) (in-flight)

The good news though is that your wife also knows Ravi. Ravi has developed a good rapport with all your family members in a short time since you have known him. So, she’ll not say no (although she always practices the Art of Saying No with you).

Portfolio Management is the Centralized management of one or more portfolios to achieve strategic objectives. It aligns with the organizational strategies by selecting the right programs or projects, prioritizing the work, and providing the needed resources.

Wife reviews your request and after a brief discussion, she seems to be okay with the decision of attending the marriage with our two lovely kids. She doesn’t share why she decided so, but the PM in you thinks that one of the reasons has to do with the fact that friendship ranks high on your Family Values Chart (well, if something like that ever existed.)

You’re not wrong but your wife has done much more analysis and modeling than that.

Sample Project Selection Scoring Model

SCORING PARAMETER Low (1 point) Medium (5 points) High (10 points) Total Score
Strategic alignment – fits with your family values     10 10
Value (ROI) kids miss school but they learn by visiting a new place   5   5
Complexity – remote place, managing leaves   5   5
Synergy – Lavesh’s (another colleague’s) family also coming along     10 10
Total Score 30/40


You are enthused with this little win. However, you don’t realize until later that this would be a lot of work.

This is what you thought was your Project scope to Plan for: Family to attend Ravi’s wedding.

Project Scope is the work required to be done to deliver a product, service or result with the specified features and functions.

You had thought it was just attending the wedding but as time passes, and details become available you realize it’s actually a series of interrelated activities (i.e. it’s a Program though you initially you thought it was a Project!).

Program Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to a program to meet the program requirements and to obtain benefits and control not available by managing projects individually.

Over time, you realize that this is what you will need to get done. And this list too is growing:

  1. Manage leaves not only for yourself, but your wife and children too.
  2. The wedding is at Oracha in M.P. (This place didn’t exist for you until now!). Travel arrangements and hotel reservations to be planned.
  3. Explaining to your folks why on earth do you have to attend a friend’s wedding at Oracha!
  4. Create your official backup who will offer the first line of defence to keep your phone from ringing all the time while you’re in Oracha, and, thus, protecting you from your wife’s cuss words.
  5. Plan for catching up on your return – for yourself, and wife and kids.
  6. It’s hot at Oracha (I’m trying to get used to the name) and your kids are delicate darlings. You’re not Mukesh Ambani!
  7. ..
  8. ..

Progressive Elaboration is the iterative process of increasing the level of detail in project management plan as greater amounts of information and more accurate estimates become available.

All the above are small (you now think otherwise) projects in themselves. It’s just that you realized it later but these are all to be done in order for you to make your plan to attend Ravi’s wedding successful.

Project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.

You start the planning. You apply for 4 days leave 4 months in advance. It will not be approved until one week before your travel. It keeps you anxious and brings you to a point where you say you’ll quit your job if the leave is now not approved.

Meanwhile, Lavesh, the other colleague who is also attending Ravi’s wedding tells you that now that you’re going there, there are other places we all can go and visit too. Khajuraho, Gwalior, Agra, Jhansi aren’t too far.

You get tempted. You don’t think it’s a bad idea at all.

You haven’t appointed a formal project manager to manage the plan but thankfully you have your wife. The de facto manager is such situations. You have to review this with your wife.

She shows you what you were missing. I thought we were going to attend Ravi’s wedding. Your four day leave is still not approved and now we’ll add another day to show the erotic temples of Khajuraho to our kids!?! You can’t be serious!

You apologize and she stands proudly after having won this argument easily. You feel small and plan to kill Lavesh. His idea had came disguised as the project work itself, and hence you couldn’t tell it apart. Wife easily did. They have 6th sense.

Scope Creep: The uncontrolled expansion to product or project scope without adjustments to time, cost and resources.

Congratulations! Today, we have understood the following concepts of Project Management:

  • Difference and relationship among Portfolios, Programs and Projects
  • PMO and it’s corelation with Portfolio Management
  • Scope definition
  • Progressive elaboration and how is it different from Scope creep
  • Project Selection Scoring Model

All highlighted definitions are taken from PMI PMBOK Fifth Edition. Sample Project Selection Scoring model derived from http://www.thinktankconsulting.ca

By now, you know you are all Portfolio Managers. You do much more than you think you do. Better plan for it instead of just letting it all happen. I will look forward to hearing from your thoughts and questions on the topics. 

Until next time, Adios!

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