Delivering energy efficiency portfolio goals requires thousands of transactions across many stakeholders over extended periods of time. As such, timing is everything, and this is particularly true when creating a program pipeline to ensure that a portfolio has participants and funding in place for as long as needed. Whether a program is expected to last for a year or evolve for years to come, it’s important that each program has a defined timeline in place, with set milestones and metrics to measure progress forward. It’s also important to have a plan in place if the program goes beyond the expected timetable or needs to be adapted based on its potential for continued activity.
Timelines are critical for portfolio planning. A clear timeline is necessary to ensure that projects are appropriately prioritized at the portfolio level and to determine the work needed to create a lasting and effective project pipeline.
- Establish program frameworks that prioritize action
As programs are launched, it’s important that administrators be able to prioritize which projects to address first and where to begin leveraging essential resources. Administrators have a limited number of engineering program staff, account managers, and other professionals working on a given program. A program framework with clear project selection and prioritization criteria can help staff prioritize the appropriate tasks, ensuring they move programs forward efficiently and in line with portfolio goals.
- Identify gaps and bottlenecks early
Prioritizing resources and enabling project advancement depends upon identifying gaps and bottlenecks early on. Perhaps the best way to understand the details of a bottleneck and hunt down solutions is to have the right portfolio manager and reporting structure in place to carefully review progress against program and portfolio metrics. The right portfolio manager is someone who can see how all the various pieces connect and has tools available to easily assess the performance of projects, programs, and risks. Often bottlenecks occur because people are looking at the wrong metrics—or not looking at all. Addressing these bottlenecks can be simple, often a matter of making a phone call to the right person or asking the right person to address the issue. The ideal portfolio manager can also provide clear instructions for program managers and implementers on how to prioritize their work.
- Diversify your portfolio
Even with a clear plan for which projects to address first, projects may be completed more quickly, or slowly, than expected. Building a diversified program pipeline ensures that you have a sufficient number of projects and programs in place to meet portfolio goals and performance metrics. Diversified portfolios also create more stability. Having more project and program types, and serving different customers, can help program administrators better balance the risks on the portfolio.
- Build out a project pipeline early
Administrators should plan early on how to build out a project pipeline, because this pipeline will establish and help manage cash flow for the duration of a program contract. Because a portfolio may be managing millions of dollars, project pipeline planning is critical in budgeting where and when money will be spent, the budget needed for incentives, and how payments will be funded, among other things.
- Prioritize forecasting and budgeting
Forecasting results and spending accurately is extremely important. Portfolio administrators must report their findings to the utility or other regulatory entity overseeing the portfolio while managing budgets and cash flow. If certain results are expected and not showing up, it’s best to know early so other resources can be procured to more effectively meet those goals.
While important, forecasting and budgeting can be one of the most difficult portions of program and portfolio implementation. After all, each program is dependent on many different moving pieces, including the customers who must make decisions at various phases and contractors who must perform the work required to move projects forward.
Reviewing project pipelines and progress against metrics on a regular basis will enable portfolio managers to assess program and portfolio risks and probabilities to better forecast results to stakeholders.
- Establish ongoing portfolio analysis
Active program management requires dynamic analysis of the performance of portfolios and the anticipated impacts and risks of individual projects. All of this must roll from the project and program level up to the portfolio level. Clear goals and implementation plans will help guide this process and an assigned portfolio manager will ensure that each program has the information it needs to successfully contribute toward portfolio objectives.
For help in reaching your portfolio goals, contact Lincus today.