At lunch, Tom George and I talked about analogies for PPM. If project portfolio performance is as important as we think it is, then how do we communicate that to other people? If everyone runs projects but not everyone goes "duh" when they hear about Project Portfolio Management, how do we make it more obvious?
So, we came up with an analogy - a lunch-time analogy. In fact, lunch is the analogy. Just about everyone knows how to make a meal. Last friday, I made myself a lunch of a turkey and ham sandwich, pretzels and a glass of ice water. Today, however, we went out to lunch at our favorite Oakland lunch spot (Phoh 84) and therein lies the analogy. It's one thing to make a meal, it's another thing entirely to run a restaurant.
Nearly anyone can make a meal. Very few people can run a successful restaurant that serves a good lunch, where all meals must come out right every time: timely, cost-effective, healthy and tasty.
The difference between running projects and project portfolio management is the difference between making a meal and running a restaurant. Most businesses run their projects like meal-making and not like a restaurant. Most projects are made one-at-a-time and not as part of a well-conceived menu. When you allow your project portfolio to be prepared and served like a loose collection of meals, many of them will just simply taste bad.