Project Management Institute

A winding road


Perfecting portfolio management is a journey, not a destination.



As I look back on the years I have been involved in project and portfolio management and then look ahead, I realize I am on a journey full of twists and turns. The lyrics from a classic Hollies song come to mind: “The road is long, with many a winding turn.”

This phrase aptly fits the odyssey I’ve been on, and I assume it fits many of yours as well. When beginning in portfolio management, we were full of energy, ideas and enthusiasm for what lay ahead. Our quest began with leadership engagement, kickoff events and people wanting to learn what portfolio management was all about. We started down this road by putting in place the fundamentals—a common project inventory, a standardized charter for obtaining critical project information, and status reports and dashboards—that gained immediate attention and value.


As our journey continued, however, the road wasn’t as paved or well-lit as in the beginning. While having an idea of our final destination is critical, we learned the entire journey cannot be planned out in exact detail, as there are so many factors that can influence how we get there. We also learned to be cautious of detours, delays and sometimes dead ends by using various resources to support and guide us.

An obvious and easily accessible resource has been PMI, with its proven, expert-developed methodologies, processes, tools and certifications that are utilized as a common roadmap by organizations worldwide. PMI has also provided the necessary maps and frameworks to guide us through each region of our journey—integration, time, cost, risk and others.


Other resources in our travels have been organizations that willingly shared their expertise and checked in occasionally to make sure we were still heading in the right direction. These may be businesses that we contract with for services, but very often this same expertise can be found through webinars, books, white papers and conversations. I’ve found great value in all of these, as they offer the experience of many other organizations, often have research to support their conclusions and the authors demonstrate a passion for assisting others in their journey.

I’ve learned that the most important partner in this journey hasn’t necessarily been our executive leadership or external consulting partners. While both are valuable, the most important partners are those who share their experiences, ideas, education, time and energy on a regular basis—the project managers and team members at the core of what the organization aims to accomplish. These people have been the true partners that I have come to rely on to inspire and challenge me. They’re with me every step along the way with encouragement, support and appreciation. PM


Teresa (Terri) Knudson, PMP, PgMP, is the director of the enterprise portfolio management office at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA. She can be reached at

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