Problems in Project Portfolio Management

Efficiency is an essential part when it comes to management of projects. It is one way of building trust and confidence among the clients. As a matter of fact, many construction companies in Dubai have repeatedly failed to meet there targets in project portfolio management due to poor project management. There are various organizations in Dubai, which deal with construction and expansion of airport in Dubai. This paper therefore will base its argument on one of the company known as Abraj. For example, the strategic value the project has, the impact the project has on the resources, the costs that will be incurred by selecting that project and by considering other vital variables, which the organization considers important and vital to accomplishing its projects.

In addition, various objectives need to guide the project managers in order to avoid the managers failing to meet their targets and accomplishing their projects in the required time. For instance, it is important for the project managers to have a clear glimpse of what is required and the necessary tools and resources that w he/she wants to achieve. In general, the project portfolio management begins with developing a comprehensive inventory list of all the projects and detailed descriptive information about the available projects to facilitate their analysis and comparison with other projects. This information is about the name of the project, the estimated duration for the conclusion of the project, the objective of the business, information on how the project supports the overall organization strategies and many others. After creation of the inventory the managers needs to examine each project and prioritize every project according to a certain criteria after which a well balanced and supported project is arrived at where projects will be classified according to their priority ranging from lowest to highest with other projects being dropped entirely. There is a great risk and danger involved if there is no clear organization and planning as the project portfolio management may turn out to be a big blow to the success of the projects. It therefore requires very careful attention by the officers in charge if excellent results are to be achieves. The project officers attribute problems faced in project portfolio management to poor overall management. However, there exist quite a number of problems in project portfolio management. For instance, too many projects in the portfolio, is among them.

Many Projects in Portfolio

As the adage goes, ‘Excess of everything is poison’ and too many projects in portfolio management is not an exception. This excess handling of projects, as research reveals, explains the reason behind projects failures, following the inability of the management to handle them at ago. Many projects in the portfolio are also attributed by many managers to be one of the major causes leading to problems in project portfolio management. Abraj Company is one of the companies in Dubai that has the problem in management of its project portfolio. They receive big quantity of proposals and requests at their desks, which hampers clear identification and organization leading to poor selection. This problem emanates from lack of proper measures and procedures put in place by the management. Therefore, there is need for the management to put in place proper measures in place so that any project identified is well classified and well attended. There is lack of proper planning in the department of projects as projects, which are received, are not attended to well. The management has some laxity in dealing with new projects. This laxity and poor planning makes the projects to surpass the required level. This problem needs to be addressed urgently by the manager through putting in place appropriate measures. For instance, the management should employ more staffs and assign them various responsibilities ranging from those who will be in charge of receiving the new projects and selecting those that can be done by the company. The company because of its corporate identity and the fact that it provides better service; there is need for it to come up with strategies which will help in containing the number of projects they receive. Likewise, the management of the projects can also opt to store the information about the information or data concerning the available projects in computers in order to be in total control of the available projects in order to avoid the incidence of many projects pilling up. Furthermore, there is need for the management of the projects to be organized well selecting those projects. They should select projects that they can be able to accomplish within a set period to avoid inconveniencing the clients. This might lead to lose of trust and confidence of the government and the company may end up losing its key clients hence leading to closure of business. The company can contain problems that face various project portfolios if only the management will be more organized and ensure that projects are not many. Projects should be well examined by managers and the required number chosen. When projects are many, they pose a big challenge to the resources available at hand which may result in many of them not being undertaken. The only remedies that this company need to do is to put in place proper mechanisms for instance a department that will be entailed with the responsibilities of ensuring that the most important projects which meets the requirements of the company are taken. There is also need for the management of the projects either to carry out continuous assessments quarterly, semi-annually or annually to be able to identify whether the number of required projects surpasses other maximum number required. Other problem the company faces in the management of its project portfolio is scarce resources at their disposal.

Scarce Resources and Problem in Reallocation of Resources, lack of Financing due to Crisis

Any project requires resources and funds for its smooth running, without which the project is doomed to fail. More so, improper reallocation of the resources too is a major problem facing projects. The Wembley Stadium project serves as an epitome as far as resource reallocation problem is concerned. Furthermore, the company in question has faced acute shortages of funds and other viable resources at its disposal. In addition, it encounters the problem of reallocation of its available resources and inadequate finances at their disposal because of various crises the company faces. Since the company has a wide range of clients as well as the projects it carries, it faces frequent acute shortages in its resources often. The construction company requires, a heavy investments in resources ranging to work force and equipment to aid in its roles. For instance, the company is the only one, which the government depends on when it comes to any work relating to renovation of airports and construction of new airports in Dubai. It therefore requires ample resources to be able to manage the project portfolio. For instance, there is need to increase the human capital to be able to assist in the carrying out of certain tasks in various departments. For instance, the department dealing with evaluation and reviewing, selection of new projects should be staffed with more employees to ensure that projects are well selected and reviewed to ensure that there is no disorganization. In addition, more competence staff needs to be hired in the company to provide technical skills and expertise for the company to better its services. Another area in which the company has failed is the allocation of resources. There are poor procedures and guidelines when it comes to allocating resources to various departments in the company. The most important projects which are cost effective and which are able to provide the company with funds in a short time should be given priority as opposed to those, which may take a lot of time before the realization of profits. Of late, the company has been involved in a crisis; where by some key managements hare involved in corruption, rendering the company bankruptcy. This incidence has led to a financial crises leading to a halt in the process of project portfolio management, as there is no adequate funds to carry on with the operations of the company effectively. Therefore, a quick intervention is required to assist the company in regaining to its earlier state. Furthermore, lack of poor communication and conflicts between the managers in the organization is also a major contributor to problems faced by the project portfolio management

Conflicts between Project Managers and Lack of Communication, Inadequate flow of Information

The presence of conflicts is an indicator of improper running, whether of projects or any other parameter. It affects the projects in that the responsible people, in such a case, cannot cooperate in making the project a success, hence their failure. Communication in any organization may it be small or large organization is vital. Communication is the only avenue in which people come to understand each other in an organization. Therefore, without communication an organization is as well as dead. Communication hitch or breakdown, and poor communication are one of the major challenges that face Abraj Construction Company. First, there are no well-established channels of communication in the company, in which an employee can channel his or her views to the management. For instance, in the department of project portfolio management, there is no communication going on between the top managers and the clerical offices in charge of receiving the information. This slump in communication process has resulted into poor decision-making and in analyzing where there might be a problem in the organization. In addition, the information, which is communicated in the organization, is not enough, therefore staffs work from darkness, as there is no clear information about the objectives set and the mission, which the company wants to achieve. When employees are unaware of the level of production they contribute in an organization they feel de-motivated and therefore hampers their motivations resulting to less commitments hence leading to decreased input hence poor production. Communication should be a priority in that the management and the staffs need to communicate with each other. For instance, the departments should consider networking with different departments so that in case of any information needed by all the departments, it is quickly conveyed. By doing this, the performance rate will shoot up because all the departments will be working on a same wavelength.

Conflict in an organization is normal and cannot be avoided. This is because; different people have different opinions, views and think differently. However, despite these, conflicts can be solved amicably and can be contained so that there is no misunderstanding in the organization. These conflicts in an organization are due to lack of communication and adequate sharing of information. This company is not an exception; there are various conflicts, which occur in the company between the managers. These conflicts normally are because of poor communication. In addition, these conflicts escalate when the other party being accused by another is not willing to solve the issue through communication. This therefore leads to disagreements, which end up affecting the proper operation of the portfolio management. For example, a conflict may arise in the department of project portfolio between the members due to one of the manager making a vital decision without consulting the other. Such a conflict clearly shows that there is lack of communication in the organization. Therefore, most of conflicts in the company results to lack of communication and consulting the other party, a problem that can be solved amicably by the managers seeing the essence of communication. Other problems encountered in project portfolio management are overlapping of projects, tasks, and lack of prioritization of more important tasks.

Inadequate Portfolio Level Activities

Inadequate portfolio level activities affect projects in the sense that they keep it going and without them, it is no more. Moreover, some of the challenges or rather problems that are faced by the company is poor or lack of prioritizing of projects or tasks in their proper areas. This problem leads to disorganization leading to poor management of the projects. The department charged with the responsibility of receiving, reviewing and selecting these projects seems to be in slumber land. Most of the problems and disorganization in the entire company originates from the choice of projects. For instance, some of the projects that are selected are not in tandem with what the company is supposed to handle. For example, some projects require technical equipments and human labor, which the company is not able to afford. Such poor selection and choice of projects causes a lot of confusion in the company making various procedures tedious. For example in some instances, a project that is supposed to be carried out by a road construction company may find its way in the list of the projects that the company is supposed to carry out. This clearly shows lack of competence and prioritization of projects hence making the overall process of the company run inconsistently.

Another hitch that halts the good performance of the company is selection of many projects that surpasses the normal required capacity of the company. This problem is often faced in the company. The problem is attributed to lack of communication and poor planning by the management. It has been established that some of the projects are selected because they appear to be done quickly but when the project is initiated, it is found out the project is not easy, as they early thought. This choice of project without clear examination has also been a big problem that has made the company lag behind and unable to complete its projects on time. There is also a problem of lack of prioritization of the projects. The staffs do not examine the projects adequately. This therefore leads to selection of projects, which do not add value to the company. For example, the company may decide to carry out a project without really considering its costs and the resources that are required for the project to be a success. Therefore, poor prioritization of projects in this company has had a negative impact as it has come with devastating effects as the company sometimes end up incurring huge amount in terms of meeting the unexpected costs that is incurred by them because of poor choice.

There is also a problem of overlapping caused by poor planning and organization. This shows that there is no coordination and teamwork in the company. Many projects overlap each other hence leading to confusion. This confusion also affects the plans and the budget of the company, which leads to loss of funds in the company through corruption deals because of these confusions. Therefore, the effects are devastating as one problem is an opportunity for some of the employees to swindle money hence leading to a financial crisis in the company. There is also a problem when it comes to selection of contractors and when the job requires being complete within a specific period.

Inadequate Single Project Level Activities

Inadequate single project level activities are also one of the problems the company is forced to deal with in many instances. Some of the contractors, which the company has recruited, have not been reliable. Although the company used competitive methods in selecting some of its contractors, some of them employed tricks and forgery. Furthermore, some of the contractors are incompetence and does not have the skills and knowledge to execute the duties assigned to them. For instance, a contractor was selected, swindling the company’s money after doing a shady work. The contract that was awarded was not completed hence forcing the owners of the contract to recall the contract. This incidence cost the company many funds putting it into arrears as it had paid part of the money to the contractor. This therefore was an incidence, which not only had financial implication but also had a negative impact to the overall public reputation or rather image of the company. There are also incidences when wrong projects are selected. For instance, a project that does not fall under the company jurisdiction is selected as a project, which is supposed to be carried out by a water company, is brought into the company. A mistake like this has occurred in the company more than once. Inform the people in charge of selecting and reviewing these projects should be competence and be trained or rather about the kind of projects that are taken. Such incidence, apart from causing confusion, it wastes the time of the owner of the project since considerable amount of time will be spent before realizing that the project was not supposed to be carried out by the company.

Another problem is that of inadequate definition and planning. The departments should be able to ensure proper planning to ensure that there is well assignment of tasks, definition of what is expected be done, planning for the costs to be incurred, planning for the resources and capital that is required to ensure that the project is completed successful. Failure to plan has seen various projects come to a standstill, with others not being done properly. It also has seen many contracts already signed being revoked and given to other companies. Planning will also sort out the issue of time management. This will ensure that every project is given enough time for its completion. Planning will also give priority to those projects, which are required to be completed within as short period. Such project, which requires a small period, will also be given the first priority this will ensure that projects are completed within the stipulated time hence promoting efficiency and effectiveness. Complexity of projects is another problem the project managers faces

Complexity of Projects

The complexity and simplicity of these projects varies, with some being easy while others are complex. The complex ones end up lacking professionals, failing as a result. This is also one of the challenges faced by this company. Although the company has well skilled workers, sometimes the projects that the company is given are complex and therefore requires a more experienced workforce. This complex projects are tricky to handle as it means that they require a lot of time and also requires more advanced manpower in addition to special resources which comes with high costs.

This is a challenge that the company has also been facing. For instance, the projects may be doable but the time to be taken to finish the project is an issue of concern as such projects take a lot of time which either could have been used in doing another projects which could be more rewarding. The technical competence required is also a matter of consideration especially if the project is that complex. The company may be required to outsource some of its staffs from outside countries, which may be expensive in terms costs of paying them. For instance, like a construction company dealing with airports, the company may decide to outsource its employees from the experts from other countries who are specialists in this area. Furthermore, there is need for decisions to be made after consulting the employees as opposed to the higher management only.

Decision Making Basing on Power and Highest Management

Decision making process is an important aspect in an organization or a project and calls for all members to participate in the process, not based on power or rank in management. Decision making process in an organization is an area, subject to debate as far as decision-making is concerned. This arises after considering how the process should be carried out. Is it in order for management to be the sole decision making unit or is it a matter of involving all the employees and other stakeholders? This is a decision that many organizations are yet to come into terms. For the case of Abraj Company, the top managements solely make decisions. This has been attributed to the ever wrangles which are witnessed repeatedly in the company. Employees at the lower cadre of management have always been complaining of being left out in most important decisions that affect them. Employees at the lower level of management feel isolated especially in instances where decisions that involve them directly are made without their consultation. Top management in this company is the one who make decisions in the organizing on entirely every level of management. They do not engage the other employees in the process of making decisions. The approach that is adapted by the management of Abraj Company has eliminated the lower employees from speaking out their mind.

Employees are therefore demoralized and de-motivated by being denied that opportunity to participate in the decision making process on important issues in the company. For instance for instance if the company is planning to provide some incentives or some changes in the organization, it is advisable to seek the approval of the employees in order to reach an amicable solution. Such introduction of new ideas and changes without seeking the opinion of employees often are the causes of strikes, go-slows and the cause of poor performance of the employees. For this company, this has been a problem in that it has faced in that the top managements are the ones who make decisions in the company. The making of decision that directly affects the employee without consulting them has been one of the wrangles and conflicts between the managers and the employees in the organization and therefore this needs to be revised. More so, there is a problem when it comes to commitment of the employees and unclear responsibilities and roles which most of them are not understood by the employees.

Lacking Commitment, Unclear Responsibilities and Roles

Most of the employees in the organization are not commitment towards achieving the goals of the company. This is attributed to the fact that there is no impetus or rather initiatives geared towards motivating the employees. When employees are not motivated to increase their production, they tend to be relaxed and most of the time does not dedicate their time towards the organization. The employees are not rewarded with good pay benefits. Most of the times these employees have been complaining of poor payments and this has been witnessed through the g- slows and strikes that the employees have been engaging in repeatedly. The employees are also complaining about poor working conditions, as there are no incentives provided for them. For example, employees are not given allowances and medical covers. They are not given insurance covers to cover them in case they get injuries during work. The employees have also complained of lack of promotions to those employees who dedicate their time and skills towards the achievement of the organizational goals. The responsibilities assigned to the employees are not well defined leading to overlapping of duties and roles. Employees and managers always complain of role conflict hence derailing the process of ensuring that the objectives of the organization are achieved. This unclear definition of roles has affected negatively to the production capacity of the employees in the organization. This is a problem leading to poor performance and payments of salaries to employees for the services, which have not been provided. This therefore is a situation, which cause losses to the company by paying salaries for the services that have not been done.


In conclusion, therefore, it is important for the management of the project portfolios, to carryout reexamination of their company and find out where these problems are emanating. The success of this company will only be achieved if it ensures organization in its services delivery through proper planning and selection of projects that they can best meet. Employees are also one of the important parts of the organization and therefore they require being motivated through better pay to make them increase their production. In addition, the company should carry out all system upgrade and evaluation and come up with better ways of performing its tasks. For instance, it should ensure that its employees are trained well and posses the required skills to be able to perform their duties designed to them well.

It is also important for the company to consider including their employees in decision-making process to make them feel part of the organization and contribute to the overall attainment of the organization objectives. When employees are involved in the decision of an organization they are able to feel good and feel that they are also being recognized and identified as an important part of the organization. An organization that does not engage in communication is as well as dead. Therefore, the company should enhance horizontal communication so that every person in the organization can be able to air out his/her views freely. This is also a way of motivating the employees so that they work hard. If all these are done, the company will turn its problems into opportunities performing exemplary well.

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