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Navigating the Murky Waters of Portfolio Management: Insights and Perspectives

In a world where PMOs are constantly bombarded with mediocre methods and approaches from many consulting and software companies, transparency is a rare and valuable commodity. As someone who played a key role in inventing the field of project portfolio management, I feel it’s my responsibility to offer some much-needed visibility into what’s really happening in the field. 

Throughout this next series of blogs, I’ll be zooming in on portfolio management and presenting some thought-provoking perspectives on what’s happening today. What are the greatest challenges we’re facing right now? How can insights from the past help us rethink and reengineer project portfolio management for the future, or even product portfolio management? 

How successful is portfolio management?

It’s clear that our current portfolio management methods are not as effective as they could be, given the failure rate of investments and prevalence of budget and time overruns. However, many of the studies that quantify these failures, and their causes, are based on subjective surveys rather than hard data, making it difficult to fully understand our track record. 

Rather than providing a definitive narrative of all the failures of portfolio management, this series of blogs is intended to offer a selection of lessons and insights that can be applied to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our practices. I’ll be covering topics prompted by questions from clients and colleagues, as well as focusing on processes, organizations, people, and technology. 

What’s on the horizon?

Taking a holistic perspective that emphasizes the connections between those processes, organizations, people, and technology, I’ll touch on the impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies and highlight the principles that underlie them. Then, I’ll examine a wide range of potential responses to the challenges we face, from creating algorithms that can accurately optimize all our decisions, to revisiting Herb Simon’s[1] satisficing principle, which might be easier to digitize. 

Finally, I’ll explore where we’re heading, which is particularly important given that current methods and technologies are losing credibility. The rise of fully automated systems like autopilot, coupled with the looming trust crisis between the PMO and business owners, could completely change the PMO landscape and push humans out of their jobs. The algorithms used in these automated systems might concentrate power in the hands of a small group of people at the top. 

Examining the challenges that lie ahead

We can’t afford to wait until management and business owners are running out of patience. This series of blogs might seem ambitious, but AI and ML technologies are giving us the power to reshape and reengineer Strategic Portfolio Management (SPM) for the better. It’s not about highlighting the shortcomings of current portfolio management because I believe they’re bad, but because even the most successful and versatile models can be improved. Therefore, when examining the challenges that lie ahead, we must understand the limitations of our current portfolio management approaches and explore ways to adapt and improve their structures, methods, and technology. 

By acknowledging our faults and working together to repair and move beyond them, we can create a learning environment where new thinking is nurtured, and where we are continually learning together to build the new Strategic Portfolio Management. 

[1] Simon, H. A, (1957) Models of Man, Social and Rational: Mathematical Essays on Rational Human Behavior in a Social Setting,

Mike Gruia, Co-founder

Mike is a visionary leader in Portfolio Management, known for his deep knowledge and unique thinking. He grounds his approach in five fundamental pillars: economics principles, applied mathematics, business architecture concepts, system dynamics, and behavioral aspects. Recognized by industry experts, including Gartner, Mike is considered a pioneer in Portfolio Management. He has co-founded three companies specializing in Portfolio Management solutions, including UMT Consulting, a leader in the field before being sold to EY in 2015, and UMT360, sold to Teleo Capital in 2019. With degrees in Industrial & Systems Engineering and Operations Research from Columbia University and the Technion Israeli Institute of Technology, Mike has played an active role in shaping the evolution of Portfolio Management, challenging current practices, and anticipating future trends.