Portfolio Prioritisation

One of New Zealand’s largest Government Agencies provides support to individual New Zealanders.

To develop, deliver and manage essential services, this Agency invested in a significant portfolio of programmes and projects which needed to be managed in a financially prudent way, whilst still delivering what needs to be provided to support individual New Zealanders.

In 2014, the Agency's Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO) developed an integrated roadmap of initiatives to provide improved capability in portfolio, programme and project management.  One of the focus areas was the development and rollout of a portfolio prioritisation framework to support effective portfolio management.


Starfish was engaged to assist with the prioritisation process by:

  • Developing a Proof of Concept (PoC) for a Prioritisation Model using Starfish developed frameworks, tools and processes, and the existing organisation's master list of project information
  • Subsequently refining the tool and processes to embed the Prioritisation Model into the organisation's integrated planning and budget process.


  • Starfish facilitated a series of workshops with selected business stakeholders to produce tailored parameters, criteria and categories which were then incorporated into the toolset and used to perform the prioritisation PoC
  • The output produced from the PoC was assessed and the data validated to ensure accuracy.  A finalised prioritised list was produced in order for the EPMO to prepare recommendations to the Portfolio Governance group and Senior Leadership team.


  • The PoC produced the required broadly prioritised categories of projects identified as Must Do, Should Do and Could Do – these categories being required to highlight to the Senior Leadership team the high-level status of the entire Agency programme of work
  • The process validated the need for the organisation to collect more standard and specific data at the business case stage in order to more accurately assess project priorities against the criteria in the tool
  • The key to the success of prioritisation is the buy-in of stakeholders and decision-makers to the process when making investment decisions – the business stakeholders now have another critical tool at their disposal to support these decisions
  • The PoC process highlighted other significant issues for the organisation regarding their project management capability, providing direction on priority and sequencing of the EPMO 2015 / 2016 implementation plan.

Additional Benefits Identified

  • Engagement and buy-in of business groups to this process is improving
  • Building capability to improve overall organisational maturity in portfolio management has been identified as a priority by the Leadership team
  • Ultimately, there will be an enterprise-wide approach and knowledge of business unit priorities for better enterprise-wide investment decisions.