A Powerful Project Portfolio Progress Report

Executives as well as all project portfolio sponsors need to make critical decisions. They need real-time forward-looking visibility on their strategic initiative or project portfolio status. Consistency in reporting this status is important.

Here is the example of a progress report form that I like most.

It is intended primarily for the executive committee, the portfolio sponsor, the portfolio manager, each portfolio component accountable, and the PMO (here a Portfolio Management Officer) who facilitates its update.

Each line tells:

  • An explicit strategic initiative title
  • The name of an accountable
  • A traffic light reporting on progress
  • A traffic light reporting on impact
  • A phrase telling What it is Important to do Now (the “WIN”)

Here is a great example of a title: “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth” pronounced by President Kennedy on May 25, 1961.

The Traffic Lights and Their Meaning

For each traffic light, the initiative accountable (with the advice of the PMO) evaluates two performances:

  • The Year-to-Date performance (are we on target now?) Yes-No
  • The Reforecast performance (will we be on target at the end of the project?) Yes-No

The answers to these questions drive the choice of the traffic light color.

  • Green means that the target is met or will be met, and that we have solid reasons justifying our level of confidence.
  • Yellow means that the target is not met yet, but that it will be met, and we have no need for special management attention.
  • Red means that progress or impact does not satisfy plan and requires special attention from management on difficulties to solve. The project team needs help.

The Most Important Information Is the WIN*

WIN* means here: What it is Important to do Now.

This is a forward-looking statement established by the initiative owner. It tells what needs to be done to make the initiative successful. It follows any yellow or red traffic lights.

If the initiative accountable writes it in black, there is no special need nor decision expected from the executive committee.

If the initiative accountable writes it in red, there is a need for help from the executive committee. It requires a decision and an action.

Here is a great example of a WIN*: “I am asking the Congress and the country to accept a firm commitment to a new course of action, a course which will last for many years and carry very heavy costs: 531 million dollars in fiscal ’62-an estimated seven to nine billion dollars additional over the next five years” said President Kennedy to the US Congress on May 25, 1961.

To Your Continued Success