Nitish Gupta

Formalising, Integrating and Assessing Portfolio Management Processes in Technology-Intensive Firms

Institute for Manufacturing, Cambridge University
PhD Awarded June 2019

Following completion of my PhD at University of Cambridge in 2019, I started working as Global Product Manager – Optical Sorting, Digital Technologies, Buhler Group in London. My current role mainly involves product (optical sorters) portfolio management, which is the area of my PhD.  Below is the abstract of my PhD thesis titled ‘Formalising, Integrating and Assessing Portfolio Management Processes in Technology-Intensive Firms’:

Technology-intensive firms strive to introduce new products and services effectively and efficiently, having to tackle challenging issues of technology and market uncertainties in their dynamic business environments. This implies that organizing for portfolio management (i.e. taking appropriate decisions regarding projects for new product & service development) is a critical capability for a firm’s survival and growth. However, both academic and practical studies reveal that firms often report a challenge of low levels of portfolio management effectiveness, which increases the likelihood of poor portfolio management performance. After a comprehensive literature review of multi-domain scholarly contributions central to portfolio management, a process design framework for portfolio management provides a basis to tackle this challenge, by addressing three main knowledge gaps:

  1. Lack of guidance on how and what to formalise in portfolio management processes
  2. Limited understanding of inter-relationships between portfolio management processes
  3. Lack of a comprehensive assessment approach for portfolio management processes

With the objective to fill these knowledge gaps, this research analysed portfolio management in more than 40 multinational firms operating in different industries including industrial automation, medical devices, manufacturing and semiconductors. This involved use of multiple rounds of various empirical methods such as case studies, focus groups, workshops and participatory observations.  As a result, this research bridges these respective knowledge gaps by developing:

  • Portfolio Management Formalisation Framework reveals five key portfolio management processes that could be formalised and that have implications for portfolio management performance: a) Ecosystem Surveillance, b) Portfolio Strategy Development, c) Business Case Management, d) Portfolio Decision-Making, and e) New Product Management. The three portfolio management stakeholder functions driving these processes are: a) Corporate Functions, b) Top Management Functions, and c) Project Management Functions.
  • Portfolio Management Integration Framework: develops the inter-relationships between these portfolio management processes as well as stakeholder functions in the form of exploratory relationships. Better integration of these processes and functions could enable better portfolio management performance.
  • Portfolio Management Diagnostic Tool: a template-based tool for assessing the management practices underpinning the portfolio management processes and stakeholder functions. It involves scoring of these practices against the criteria of relevance, importance, consistency and execution quality. The scores can reveal areas of strengths and weakness in overall portfolio management and can be used for process improvement purposes.

This research contributes to theory by conceptualising five key portfolio management processes and three portfolio management stakeholder functions as components of portfolio management formalisation. It also conceptualises the inter-relationships between these processes and function as components of portfolio management integration. The practical utility of the proposed diagnostic tool lies in using it to diagnose and benchmark portfolio management processes and stakeholder functions.

I would like thank RADMA for their kind and generous financial support!

Note: Portfolio Management Diagnostic Tool is available for further pilot. Companies interested in establishing or improving their portfolio management process capabilities, please feel free to contact Nitish at