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The Last Impression Is Vital in Project Portfolio Management
By The Grumpy Project Manager

When thinking about development project portfolio management it is not the first impression of a project but the last one that matters most. It is not about how one enters a party but how one leaves it. It does not help if a person (project) is pretty and witty when entering a party (project portfolio) if she or he is loony and moody when leaving it.

The first impression

As the first impression is considered to be important a lot of effort is put into it. A grand kick-off meeting may be arranged where objectives are presented and team spirit building started. At this point the project is just a plan. The stakeholders have problems understanding it fully and this understanding is dependent on their mindset. After a kick off meeting the stakeholders usually have great expectations about the project and its outcomes. Then the real work starts.

The last impression

At some point a project eventually ends and it is time to give the last impression: project closure analysis is an essential part of a project. The outcome and the project from the start to the end is evaluated in this analysis. The results and the done work is compared to the baseline; the picture that was given in the kick-off meeting. In the end it is the time to compare the before and after pictures. Do they match and if not, why not. The last impression is not something that can be put together in the end, but it is built during the project.

The last impression as the first impression

Proper, honest project closure analysis are one of the key tools of project portfolio management. In those projects are compared to their objectives and against the project management procedures of the corporation. Were the objectives met? Were procedures followed properly? What kind of problems did the project have? What went especially well? Were any needs to improve the project portfolio and project management procedures noted. In project portfolio management we have several projects starting, ending and going on all the time. Mistakes are made in all projects. A key is to learn from those. Projects have bigger and smaller success stories. A key is to learn from those too. However, we cannot learn from individual projects.

When starting a new project it is useful to inform about the principles of project portfolio management and the project management procedures to be followed. Informing about the projects that are at the moment in progress, the priority order of those and this new project. This way we give the last impression of the current status, how the new project adds value to that and that way the first impression of the coming better future as a result of finalizing this new project. The quality and content of kick-off meetings would become consistent, allow easier expectation management and better last impressions, meaning better customer satisfaction.

This kind of activities can be supported by having a line organization kind of project portfolio management organization.

The Grumpy Project Manager is a program manager in an international corporation and has over ten years of experience in managing R&D, IT and business development projects. You can read more from the Grumpy PM on his (or her?) blog. S/he can be contacted by email at

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