Management of Portfolios (MoP™) is one of the sets of guidance on projects, programmes and portfolios from the UK’s Cabinet Office. It’s aimed at helping business people and senior executives in organisations understand how to get the best from a range of projects and programmes by helping businesses be sure that they are making the right investments and spending time on projects that will support their strategic objectives.

What is a portfolio?

It helps to understand what a portfolio is. These days, portfolio management is becoming more popular as companies realise that it can offer strategic benefits, consolidated reporting and a much better insight into what changes are going on in the business. According to MoP, a portfolio is the totality of an organisation’s investment in the changes required to achieve its strategic objectives. In reality, you can have several portfolios, as long as they all support strategic objectives. This could be useful if you work in a multi-national corporation or just a large national business with various divisions, each with their own goals that feed into an overarching corporate strategy.

You don’t need to have mature project and programme management in place before you implement portfolio management, but it helps.

Investment matters

MoP majors on making sure that companies are investing in the right projects and programmes to ensure that the change initiatives carried out are the best ones for the business. There are a couple of ways that the guidance suggests organisations do this:​

- By prioritising projects and programmes by how much they contribute to strategic objectives

- By prioritising projects and programmes by their level of risk

- By making sure that projects and programmes are managed efficiently and in a consistent manner

- By focusing on benefits realisation to get the biggest return on investment possible.

5 Major Principles

The MoP guidance is centered around 5 major principles relating to portfolio management. All of these have to be in place before you can be convinced that your portfolio initiative will be a success. The 5 principles are:

Senior management commitment

Of course, any new approach to doing anything needs senior management commitment. As portfolio management can be a bit difficult to understand, knowing that your exec team are on board and can communicate the vision is a good thing.


There should be processes in place to escalate issues and make good decisions and all of that should fit within existing corporate governance processes.

Alignment to strategy

This is the whole point of MoP. If your change projects don’t align to strategy, you shouldn’t be doing them. Of course, this relies on your company actually having a published strategy.

Alignment to strategy

Portfolio office

Despite saying that project and programme management is not essential, the guidance does mandate a portfolio office which should include project professionals to ensure consistent application of standards. They should also encourage collaborative working, which is important to make sure departments like Finance are on board.

Change culture

This, according to the guidance, should be ‘energised’. By this they mean that the company is ready to take on something new and that the staff members are motivated and open to do things better (and differently). You’ll have to get this attitude in place first before trying to get any portfolio management initiative to work.

If you’ve got all of that in place, you have a good grounding for implementing portfolio management and a high chance that it will be successful. As with any new initiative and way of working, there is always a chance that it doesn’t work out, so the guidance is helpful in this respect by providing these principles as a kind of checklist for what you need to have in place prior to taking the next steps.