For our June meeting Kenny Rubin, a Certified Scrum Trainer through the Scrum Alliance and author of Essential Scrum, was kind enough to speak to our group via webex about portfolio management. To answer the question of “why is portfolio management important to a scrum user group?” I found this quote from an interview with Kenny:
Many of the problems in organizations start at the highest levels of planning—such as portfolio-level planning. When these higher levels of planning are poorly aligned with agile principles, you can be certain that the misalignment will manifest itself in an ever-increasing snowball of problems that roll downhill toward the development teams. For example, working on way too many products/projects at one time is a classic problem at the portfolio level, experienced by pretty much every company I see. People at the team level are pulled in so many different directions that they have a hard time staying focused and getting the job done. The concept of managing work in process (WIP) applies as much at the portfolio level as it does at the team level, and I wanted to make this alignment clear.
Kenny reviewed 11 portfolio planning strategies that he organized into 3 categories: scheduling, inflows and outflows. While a company doesn’t necessarily need to use all 11 strategies and there are probably more that he didn’t call out explicitly, more than one must be used in order to be effective. For more information on the strategies, review Kenny’s presentation at http://www.innolution.com/uploads/presentations/Rubin-2013-06-18-Strategies-for-Agile-Portfolio-Management.pdf He will also be presenting this topic at the Agile 2013 conference in Nashville, and I look forward to meeting Kenny in person there.