During program implementation cycles, program and portfolio progress should be tracked against goals using metrics established during the portfolio planning stage. But what happens with a program’s findings when it’s time to wind a program down?

As programs within a portfolio begin to ramp down, it’s important that administrators have a plan in place to learn from program performance. A mechanism must be in place to track, evaluate, and report upon the journey toward portfolio goals. This evaluation mechanism is best established during goal setting and portfolio development, but could be revised if new goals and metrics are established, or if program designs are updated. The earlier the evaluation mechanism is established however, the better it can help program administrators visualize program performance.

Having a plan in place to evaluate and report upon completed program findings can help administrators better prepare future portfolios for success. For example, an evaluation can be used to assess why a specific goal was not delivered on target as anticipated in the initial program design. Administrators can use this information in current programs, or in the design of future program designs.  Administrators can further design specific market activities to address gaps identified during evaluation. This must be carried during implementation and immediately upon closing a program if administrators want to identify solutions which will contribute to future portfolio budgets or goals.

Plan to pivot during implementation

At some point in a portfolio’s progression, it’s safe to assume something will go wrong. Perhaps a certain program activity does not result in the intended outcome, or maybe a certain emerging technology becomes standard practice. Tracking these program activities and outcomes, while building flexibility and adaptability into the portfolio, supports the ability to make changes to better meet portfolio goals.

Flexibility is critical to success. Yet, too often portfolio administrators and regulators trap themselves by not allowing for the flexibility to make changes. If you have the ability  to identify gaps as they happen, it becomes easier to identify potential solutions. Solutions could mean a small change to a program, implementation strategy, or incentive, or even developing a more targeted solicitation, to better reach established objectives. The flexibility to take on different solutions can increase the chance for success.

For example, a utility rolling out a residential energy efficiency program may find it is only reaching large multi-family complexes that have enough HOA money to spend on such projects, omitting smaller, low-income complexes. This finding may trigger a reevaluation of program implementation and how to better reach that omitted customer and achieve portfolio goals. This could mean developing a social assistance solicitation that can move the program in the desired direction, or creating a subprogram to the existing program, using the current implementer to do something different. Perhaps an incremental incentive, a direct install approach, or a financing solution could help. It is important to be able to identify the gap to bring about a solution, but identifying that gap first requires the program’s ability to track and report on goals regularly. Adapting to different possible solutions then requires program flexibility.

Identifying these problems, and being able to dive in to find a solution, is a critical role for the portfolio administrator. However, this begins with having the ability to identify gaps early and the flexibility to adjust a program when needed. This might mean putting milestones in place that let the program manager know when it’s time to cut losses on a program that’s not delivering savings and move on to something else or to develop an additional targeted program to better meet the portfolio objectives.

Identify and apply lessons learned when closing programs

Whether you’ve completed your contract term or ended a program cycle, at some point every program must ramp down. Each program implementation plan should put a process in place for shutting down any remaining projects and meeting with stakeholders to ensure their expectations have been met.

For many portfolio administrators, ramping down portfolio contracts means providing a final report and moving staff on to the next portfolio. However, each portfolio carries with it years of insight. Perhaps the most important, and most often overlooked aspect of portfolio implementation and management is determining how the portfolio’s success or failure will guide future program development. For example, identifying which measures have had the smallest market penetration may provide insight on refined incentives or marketing strategies. Additionally, identifying and evaluating which projects had the greatest impact on goals or cost effectiveness may shed insight on how to develop more of these impactful projects or transcend less impactful projects into significant contributors.

A program’s end is an excellent time to present findings to management, discuss pitfalls and lessons learned, and determine how this insight can be integrated into the organization’s overall objectives. Critical lessons can be learned from these activities, but there must first be a mechanism in place to evaluate and then report upon this journey toward portfolio goals. These lessons can help guide more effective programing in the future, but only if they are understood across the entire organization.

For help in reaching your portfolio goals, contact Lincus today.