Effective portfolio management is vital to successful product innovation. Portfolio management is about making strategic choices—which markets, products, and technologies our business will invest in. It is about resource allocation—how you will spend your scarce engineering, R&D, and marketing resources. It focuses on project selection—on which new product or development projects you choose from the many opportunities you face. And it deals with balance—having the right balance between numbers of projects you do and the resources or capabilities you have available. In this article, the authors reveal the findings of their extensive study of portfolio management in industry. This study, the first of its kind, reports the portfolio management practices and performance of 205 U.S. companies. Its overall objective was to gain insights into what portfolio methods companies use, whether they are satisfied with them, the performance results they achieve with the different approaches, and suggestions for others who are considering implementing portfolio management. The research first assesses management's satisfaction with portfolio methods they employ and notes that some firms face major problems in portfolio management. Next, businesses are grouped or clustered into four groups according to management's view of portfolio management: Cowboys, Crossroads, Duds, and Benchmark businesses. The research first assesses management's satisfaction with portfolio methods they employ and notes that some firms face major problems in portfolio management. Next, businesses are grouped or clustered into four groups according to management's view of portfolio management: Cowboys, Crossroads, Duds, and Benchmark businesses. Various performance metrics are used to gauge the performance of the business's portfolio. The results reveal major differences between the best and the worst. Benchmark businesses are the top performers. Their new product portfolios consistently score the best in terms of performance—high‐value projects, aligned with the business's strategy, the right balance of projects, and the right number of projects. The authors take a closer look at these benchmark businesses to determine what distinguishes their projects from the rest. Benchmark businesses employ a much more formal, explicit method to managing their portfolio of projects. They rely on clear, well‐defined portfolio procedures, they consistently apply their portfolio method to all projects, and management buys into the approach. The relative popularity of various portfolio methods—from financial methods to strategic approaches, bubble diagrams, and scoring approaches—are investigated. Not surprisingly, financial approaches are the most popular and dominate the portfolio decision. But what is surprising is the dubious results achieved via financial approaches. Again, benchmark businesses stand out from the rest: they place less emphasis on financial approaches and more on strategic methods, and they tend to use multiple methods more so than the rest. Strategic methods, along with scoring approaches, yield the best portfolios; financial methods yield poorer portfolio results. The authors provide a number of recommendations and suggestions for anyone setting out to implement portfolio management in their business.
The Journal of Product Innovation Management – Wiley
Published: Jul 1, 1999
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