How we transitioned 7 independently managed projects into a single focused portfolio.

How we transitioned 7 independently managed projects into a single focused portfolio.

Jan 2017 - Jul 2017
How we transitioned 7 independently managed projects into a single focused portfolio.

Project results


Independent Projects


Aligned Portfolio

Project Objectives

The project involved planning the transition from managing seven major projects independently to being operated as a program. Defining Scope and Schedule were significant parts of the work and driving stakeholder engagement. Key outcomes included economies of scale benefits and new transparent organizational processes.

The key objectives included:

  • Demonstrated economies of scale
  • Clear alignment in structure and terminology
  • Clearly defined organizational processes

Project Execution

Strategic and Business Management

The larger organization was in the early stages of initiating a restructure, and these projects had previously been managed independently.  It was clear greater effectiveness and efficiency could be gained by managing them together, but the idea of a program was a new one to the organization.  

This required significant communication with stakeholders throughout the process. Benefits realizations became a key strategy in demonstrating and maintaining alignment of the program to the goals of the organization.

Technical Project Management

Both stakeholder management and communications management were critically important to this project.  Due to the organizational restructuring, there were numerous past stakeholders and constantly changing current and future stakeholders.  This environment required ongoing proactive communication across the organization.  This effort took extra work because the internal communications department was being restructured as well.

Schedule management was complex because the events were already scheduled, causing the program definition work to essentially be concurrent with the execution of the actual projects.  This is neither ideal nor conventional but was the context of the project.  By defining the dependencies of the work schedule, we were able to synchronize the program definition and the project work.

Because of the schedule constraints, we needed to be cautious in how we defined the scope.  Scope management was ongoing because much more could be done than the schedule allowed for, and many stakeholders wanted to add to the scope throughout the project.

The amount of change occurring within and around the project created numerous risks to track.  We had to work diligently to keep our risk register updated as the environment continued to change.

Economies of scale were a key outcome, and thus a lot of work was done to baseline the costs of all the individual projects. Unfortunately, cost management had not previously been a standardized process organization-wide.  We had to do a lot of prework with the individual projects in order to see which costs could be shared at the program level.

Many of the shared cost savings landed in the area of procurement, specifically in marketing materials and program production materials.  Our team worked to identify, evaluate and secure vendors for these services.


I later took the role of program manager and eventually portfolio manager.  However, while working to align the projects in order to create a program, our team did not yet have positional authority over the program itself.  

We had to depend primarily on influence, strong communication and collaboration to implement change. This was stressful for our team and required continuous communication and coaching.


People can be resistant to change, even change that helps them. For many, something just being different can put them on the defensive. I found it effective to tell a story that helps them to see where we've been, where we are and where we want to go.  We understand most of the world around us in narrative form, and this helps the changes "make sense" to them.

Project Outcomes

The chartering process was completed in one month. The council convened its first meeting two months later and has continued to meet monthly since then.

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