Viewpoints on Innovation

Portfolio Question #11 - What is the impact of loading proposed projects into the pipeline?


Overloaded innovation pipelines are commonplace, if not epidemic. That inevitably leaves business leaders wondering when we can start development on the next new thing. Launching a new project into development is a big decision that should be considered very carefully. In addition to the rapid increase in costs that accompany moving into the development phase of work, the realistic probability of cancelling that project approaches zero.

The first hurdle in answering the impact question is having sufficient information on resource availability to know if and when we will have the capacity to take on new work. This requires some form of rough-cut capacity planning and the ability to forecast availability by skill set. If this analysis says that we cannot start anything new for several months, and we cannot add resources, then our only recourse is to look at cancelling something else in order to free up the necessary capacity.

Beyond capacity, adding new initiatives to the development pipeline gives us the opportunity to address mix and balance issues that may have been identified during the last review. If we are not proactive in shaping the portfolio to achieve our optimal mix, then we will always be reacting during comprehensive reviews. Pipeline loading is an opportunity to “pull” projects into the portfolio to address issues of alignment, mix and balance.

The final impact question is one of value. Does this new initiative increase the aggregate expected commercial value of the innovation pipeline? If the answer is “no,” then maybe we should be looking for another proposal. Achieving organic growth from innovation requires us to continually increase pipeline value. 

More in this series:

Portfolio Question #1: How are our recently launched innovations performing in market?

Portfolio Question #2: Will our current portfolio deliver our organic growth goals?

Portfolio Question #3: Does the portfolio reflect our business strategy? By business unit?

Portfolio Question #4: Does the portfolio contain a diverse mix of innovation types?

Portfolio Question #5: Is the portfolio balanced? More than just risk/reward?

Portfolio Question #6: Is the portfolio balanced by phase and by expected launch date?

Portfolio Question #7: Have we clearly defined and communicated the portfolio priorities?

Portfolio Question #8: What are the constraints to delivering the projects in the portfolio?

Portfolio Question #9: Which projects should we accelerate, delay, or kill completely?

Portfolio Question #10: How can we shift key resources around to deliver the portfolio?

Portfolio Question #11: What is the impact of loading proposed projects into the pipeline?

Portfolio Question #12: What's missing from your portfolio?


Originally published on​

Originally published on May 5th, 2014

What's your view? Add your question or comment

Topics: Bill Poston, Innovation, Innovation Portfolio, IP, P±, Pipeline Productivity, Portfolio Manager, Portfolio Optimization, Portfolio Prioritization, PPM, PPM Dispatch Blog, Project Selection

About the Author

Bill Poston

Bill Poston

For the past 30 years, Bill has helped executives in technology-driven industries transform their competencies to deliver results. He is a highly regarded consultant, speaker, and writer on the topics of innovation strategy, product development, portfolio management, technology commercialization, and the software systems that enable innovation. Keep up with Bill's latest research and thoughts on innovation and the rising role of the Chief Innovation Officer at
More Viewpoints by Bill Poston

What's Your View?

comments powered by Disqus

Don't miss future posts.
Get Viewpoints Digests delivered right to your inbox.

Subscribe Now Leave me alone