A Quick Overview of Clarizen Portfolio Optimization

Clarizen Portfolio Optimization (CPO) is a free “add-in” for the Clarizen One PPM platform, which some of our clients have expressed interest in. So, we decided to take a deeper look at this add-in and how it can be used to support your portfolio management processes.

Project and Portfolio Optimization is a project prioritization engine which allows teams to evaluate (and reevaluate) projects on a regular basis and make funding decisions based on evolving business priorities. It provides portfolio managers  with a quantifiable method for prioritizing projects to determine which projects should get funded. In this post, we’ll take a deeper look into this add-in, how to use it, and when it is useful (and when not as useful).

Why would would you use Clarizen’s Project and Portfolio Optimizer?

Let’s get to the point – you would use Clarizen Portfolio Optimization when you want to use a multiple weighted criteria (a Multi Decision Criteria Analysis -MDCA) to prioritize your projects. What that means is you choose up to 4 different weighted criteria you want to prioritize your potential projects by, then weight those criteria based on how important they are for your organization. For example, some project criteria may be alignment with organizational strategy, risk to the organization, duration, cost, etc. And you might weight those criteria based on how important each one is to your org – so, project alignment with organizational strategy my be 4x, but project cost might be only 2x importance.

Once you prioritize your projects, CPO can give you a “water line”, showing you how many of your projects you can perform for the budget allocated to that portfolio. 

The ability to set your own prioritization KPI’s and weight them is a very powerful feature, and the visualizations are quite nice. It lets you…

  • Build a sustainable culture of cost management with zero-based budgeting
  • Analyze your portfolio based on any type of cost and criteria that are important for you at any given time
  • Eliminate under-performing projects to focus on more productive ones

Let’s take a deeper look…

Some of our Kolme Group consultants built out Portfolio Optimizer in a test environment and dug a little deeper into the tool

 

Basic Steps to setup.

  • Install and Enable the Application from the Clarizen App Store 
  • Create a Portfolio – This is the Parent level for any projects you want to run the Optimizer against. If you have projects already created you will need to move them under the Portfolio. The Portfolio Highlight panel installed with PPO only appears at the Portfolio level.
  • Create or move projects under the Portfolio – and populate them with needed data
  • Run “Set Portfolio KPI’s” from “actions” on the Portfolio object – This allows you to set the customer’s KPI’s (four KPI values can be set). Standard and Custom fields can be used as KPIs. However, the fields are limited to the following types; Duration, Currency, Numeric, Percent, and Number Picklist.

Setting it up

  • Be sure to populate the fields specified as the KPI’s in each of the projects.
  • From the Portfolio select the “Portfolio Optimization” view.
  • Select “Portfolio Highlights” pane to open.

Now Optimize!

  • Select “Optimization”, select a value for “Proposed Portfolio Budget”, assign weight values to each of the KPI’s. 
  • Notice the temporary update to  priority and score fields and a line is drawn where the budget cut off is. That’s your “waterline” which tells you how far your portfolio budget will get you
  • Saving writes the the priority value of the projects. Add Scenario saves the scenario to Discussions.

A couple important tips: 

We found that some fields like Risk Total Score aren’t calculated from the risks assigned to the project and may need to be updated manually in each project – or via a workflow rule. Trial and Error seems to be required and of course looking at the field attributes/formulas

Why would you NOT use Clarizen’s Portfolio Optimizer?

Clarizen Portfolio Optimization does a good job with weighted criteria and letting you set scenarios, but its benefits are limited to organizations where budget is the primary limiting factor for selection. CPO doesn’t consider resource limitations, which is often a more important limiting factor when selecting projects.

Get more info on installing and using Clarizen Portfolio Optimizer on the Clarizen Success site!