Read our interview with John Donohoe, the Director of Project Management Office & Change Management at Star Alliance who will conduct a training on Project Portfolio Management for pmexperts. John has 30 years of experience in project portfolio and program management as well as project management according to PMI® standards and Agile techniques. He has been responsible fot the Project Management Office of Star Alliance, one of the world’s largest global airline alliances, for 11 years.
pmexperts: What is portfolio management? What would be the main tip regarding managing the project portfolio you would give to our readers?
John Donohoe: Portfolio management is primarily about selecting the best projects to execute strategy. Getting the biggest “bang for the buck”. To do this you need to know where the organization wants to go. The reality is most people have no idea what the company objectives are and the strategy to reach them. It is critical for effective portfolio management that you understand your organization’s vision, goals and objectives to be able to effectively apply portfolio management principles. Executing strategy and portfolio management may look simple on the surface but is difficult to do.
You are Director of Project Management Office & Change Management at Star Alliance. What kind of changes did you implement in Star Alliance when becoming responsible for the Project Management Office?
The Star Alliance PMO is an enterprise EPMO which means we provide project management services to the entire organization. We have dedicated PMP certified Project Manager who also are Scrum certified. We are currently in the process of maturing our digital service delivery by developing API’s for our member airlines. From a PMO standpoint, our job is to drive and champion the change via training and continued improvement of our Scrum methodology for our cross-business Product Teams.
From a portfolio management perspective, 2 years ago our new CEO implemented a change in strategic priorities. This strategic change required a review of the portfolio balance and the portfolio prioritization criteria. We significantly increased our digital products and governance to increase customer focus, speed to market and product agility.
What are the biggest challenges regarding project portfolio management that you’ve faced in your career?
Selecting which projects to fund and initiate is a very political process. When we implemented portfolio management, it greatly improved transparency of project selection which minimizes the political influence. Key steps to achieve this was agreeing the portfolio management process up front. and with clear communication to the executive board throughout the implementation process.
In March you will conduct a training on Project Portfolio Management. What will be special about this Warsaw training?
The training will be based upon PMI’s newest 4th Edition Portfolio Management Standard. The course will be interactive with case studies, practical examples and group exercises to reinforce portfolio management principles and processes. Each student will have the opportunity to apply these to their own organization’s project selection process. There is also opportunity to discuss challenges faced within the student’s own PMO and ways to overcome those challenges. Additionally, we will cover Agile portfolio management and highlight Management of Portfolios MoPs from UK’s Office of Government Commerce