MoP®: The Champion-Challenger Model

Implementing portfolio management is challenging at the best of times.  In order to make progress and get the resources heading in the right direction, there needs to be a way to make changes along the way.  One valuable lesson learned that the guidance recommends is the champion-challenger model.  Basically, this means your portfolio management processes are open to challenge and improvement over time.  After all, Business as Usual (BAU) does not have to be doing the same things over and over again even when you know they are not working as well as they should be!

Having a portfolio management process is a wonderful thing in an organization unless it gets in the way of getting the job done.  In many organizations, these processes are defined and then carved in stone.  Unfortunately, this approach can result in problems downstream as folks try to apply the processes and discover those processes or parts of those processes don’t work exactly as planned.  Sometimes, the processes need to be changed or adjusted to meet the needs of the business and the folks who are doing the work.

The champion-challenger model of MoP® is based on the agreement that existing processes will be used and adhered to until they are challenged by someone who thinks they have found “a better way”.   Submitting a proposed change to the way portfolios are managed in an organization may result in a change to the proposed new process.  If that is the case, the proposed change becomes the new status quo that everyone follows.  This technique allows for changes and for stakeholder and team member input into the way things are being done.

MoP® recommends that improvements and challenges to your portfolio management processes be done through many channels, such as post-implementation reviews, portfolio effectiveness reviews and as part of general lessons learned identification activities.

I think that the champion-challenger model may need to be implemented formally in order to be successful.  Seems like using a issue register and classifying a request for process improvement alongside change requests and off-specifications might be a good way to go.  Of course, not every challenge will be approved and become part of the way things get done.

It also seems like this technique would work for our programs and projects, too.  I think it would fit well within the framework of MoP’s “younger siblings” – MSP® (programs) and PRINCE2® (projects).

A copy of this portfolio management method is required reference material in any portfolio manager’s bookshelf!  The method is documented in the publication “Management of Portfolios” which is officially published by The Stationary Office, or TSO.

Happy portfolio process improvements!

Susan Weese

*MoP®, MSP® and PRINCE2® are registered trade marks of the Cabinet Office.

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