The Most Simple, Agile, Portfolio Management Tool

Today, I am going to share the most simple, agile, program management tool. I've implemented a versions of this tool in every organization I've been a part of for the last ten years. It doesn't require an expensive enterprise portfolio management tool and can be easily implemented in almost any SaaS database or workflow tool that can support lists and forms.

This Tool Solves One Very Simple Problem

Here is the question I ask every Monday morning, "What did everyone accomplish last week?" 

Usually I am asking this question in the context of working agile teams, running programs, and active projects that have multiple people working on them and have durations from several weeks and greater. This tool is not for individuals working on tasks or managing requests or incidents - there are plenty of other tools for these purposes. 

Here it is - The Most Simple Agile PMO Tool

Ask everyone in your organization that has some management responsibility to do the following:
  • Once a week (I like Fridays), log into a tool that you've configured
  • Create an entry for something that they worked on that week. Give it a name. I call these Initiatives so that people don't get hung up on what is a program or a project. Reuse this name (ideally implemented by a drop down) when providing Updates in subsequent weeks.
  • Write 2-3 sentences on what was accomplished. 
  • Mark the status as Red, (I am in trouble), Yellow (some issues, but things are under control), Green (things are progressing as expected), or Done! 
  • Click Submit.

That's it! Extra points for those of you that have more sophisticated tools and can implement Initiatives and their Updates in a parent/child table structure. As for process, I nag people Monday mornings if they miss entering an Update and I review the full report at my staff meeting.

Why This Works

It's simple to implement, simple to contribute to, easy to consume, and straightforward to use as a tactical management tool. Team leaders can use it to raise their hands and say they need help (yellows) or if their programs are really going off course (reds). It lends to communication and collaboration. It provides some basic measures (% green, # initiatives done) without becoming overbearing. 

Need more detail? That's the best part... Starting simple and you can add more detail where it is needed and valuable.  

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