Sunday, January 24, 2010

Skill Portfolio Management

Significant number of project execution organizations have started using project portfolio management (PPM) as a means of selecting the right projects,  The same approach can be used to manage our skills, or say skill portfolio management (SPM)

Project portfolio management (PPM) is generally defined as a dynamic decision-making process, whereby a business' list of active projects is constantly updated and revised (Cooper, 2001). In this process, new project are evaluated, selected, and prioritized; existing projects may be accelerated, killed, or deprioritized. Organizations are using project portfolio management (PPM) as a means of selecting the right projects .The derived definition of skill portfolio management could be , a decision-making process, where one evaluates the need of new skills, select and prioritize acquisition of skills. The way organization maximizes returns on capital by using project portfolio management, we can also maximize returns on our time investment by using skill portfolio management.

Let us take example of two project portfolio management tools for skill portfolio management.
Strategic Alignment Model
Boston Consulting Group Products/Services Matrix

Strategic Alignment Model
This model attempts to align projects with the direction the enterprise has decided to follow. In other words, it aligns projects with those things that are important to the enterprise. For skill portfolio we can look at it along with Habit 2 from “7 Habits of Highly Successful People”. The habit 2 talks about   “Begin with the End in Mind”, if your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take get you to the wrong place faster.  We should have clear career goal in mind, so when we think of acquiring a skill we should look at the possible contribution of this skill in achieving the career goal.

Boston Consulting Group Products/Services Matrix
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Matrix is a well-known model that has been used for several years. It defines four categories of products/services based on their growth rate and competitive position,

Cash Cows
These are well-established products/services that have a strong market share but limited growth potential. They are stable and profitable. Projects that relate to cash cows are important to the organization because the company will want to protect that investment for as long as it maintains that market position.
On the same line, Person’s skills, which are returning profit in current market falls in this category, for example a coding skills of a developer. It is necessary to protect and enhance these skills, but it should be understood that these skill will not be enough for growth.


Because these products/services are not competitive and have little or no growth potential, any projects related to them should not be undertaken. The best thing an organization can do with dogs is, phase them out as quickly and painlessly as possible.
First I thought that dogs are not relevant for skill portfolio management, but later I realized, we do need to identify skills which are not adding value to the current role, lets take example of a project manager, He is not expected to keep enhancing his coding skills, he should not be investing time in enhancing dog skills.

These are products/services that have strong market positions and clearly strong growth potential. Projects related to stars are good investment opportunities. Stars are the future cash cows.
Stars skills are the one which gives us future growth, the skills which has great growth potential. We need to invest our time in enhancing the star skills.
For both the cases, the question mark represents the starting point of the model. Products/services that are untested in the market but appear to have strong growth potential. The objective is to turn them into stars and then cash cows.

Conscious career planning can help us in achieving our career goals faster. Identification of right future skills is quite challenging exercise but we have to do it, there is no alternative to it.

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