Portfolio management at UWV

An interview with Ronald Landstra, Sr. Consultant ICT Assurance

We had a conversation with Ronald Landstra, Sr. Consultant ICT Assurance at UWV. We talked about portfolio management at UWV and the challenges and successes he faces in doing so.

The organization

With over 20000 employees, the UWV is a sizeable complex organization for good reason. In addition to the necessary staff departments, there are 5 major divisions within UWV:


  • Work operations
  • Benefits division
  • Social and medical affairs
  • Data Services
  • Customer & service (website, portals, external disclosure of information)

The largest staff departments are Concern ICT and the Facilities Department, which, among other things, handles the (physical) incoming and outgoing data flows. In addition to a UWV-wide strategy and policies, the divisions also have their own policy objectives.

Agile approach

Many divisions at UWV operate predominantly Agile. But traditional waterfall projects also occur.

Information assurance (IV) is decentralized at the UWV with a central department that monitors frameworks and guidelines. A total of 2,500 employees work in the IV. . These include programmers, information analysts, portfolio managers, etc. Divided by division, there are about 20 portfolio managers. They manage their division’s portfolio and implement change initiatives in FCC. They also manage projects funded from regular budgets.

There is also a central portfolio office of 6 people, one of whom is Ronald Landstra. It is directed by the CFO and the CIO. They advise the Board of Directors on, among other things, the progress of the change portfolio of approximately 70 projects.

the three levels of Strategic Resource Management

Portfolio management and capacity planning

The project portfolio fleshes out the UWV’s ambitions and associated change initiatives. This includes, for example, improving services by modernizing the application landscape. Systems maintenance and life cycle management are also important to keep the foundation of the IV stable and future-proof. In addition, the portfolio also consists of projects that implement new or amended laws and regulations. The latter projects in particular often have hard, non-negotiable deadlines.

Tactical capacity management

Until 2018, FCC was used piecemeal. Starting in 2018, the UWV began implementing “tactical capacity management” This has taken several years. Capacity supply and demand are thereby viewed and compared six months to two years ahead. One of the divisions additionally does ‘deployment management’. This operational resource planning involves looking a month, or a PI planning ahead. Strategic capacity management – planning on a horizon beyond two years – is vested in HR.

Over- and interrogating teams

Everyone is well aware that you can’t do without good capacity management, and that you need to look beyond a few months ahead to ensure that you don’t end up with structurally over- or under-demanded teams in the future. Resource planning is done at the level of teams, not individuals, with a few exceptions. Color signals are used to indicate the load of teams. Color ratings are given for both under-asked teams (<60%) and over-asked teams (from 120%).

The portfolio is reviewed quarterly. Overdelaying teams between 90 and 120% can often be resolved by shifting regular work. When teams are 120% to 150% overloaded, there is often more to the story. These cases are discussed in more detail.

The necessity of Slack

In this article you’ll read more about the usefulness ofslack: planning for lower resource utilization of 100%.

Projects are divided into “buckets”: categories closely related to the strategic objectives to be achieved. Examples include “laws and regulations,” “infrastructure” and “improved services. These buckets are shown in FCC. This allows you to see what time is spent on each team. Portfolios are prioritized in part by this. Low-priority work is shuffled when resources are full. The next step is to even more explicitly prioritize projects within the portfolios as well. This requires dialogue from strategic decision makers. Projects around laws and regulations are clearly at the forefront of the priorities, but after that they quickly become more complex. Will you first replace an outdated system or improve the customer journey of a vulnerable target group?

Developing a unified way of working together

Because divisions have a high degree of independence and often also have different dynamics and cultures, the biggest challenge is to get everyone working in a uniform way.

For capacity management, UWV now has this well in place. Furthermore, central portfolio administration has now been brought all the way to FCC. Thus, all stakeholders in portfolio management are looking at the same unified source of information. In a three-step approach, the new users are trained and actively involved in the filling and use of FCC.

  1. Portfolio managers (after capacity managers) were the first group. They all had a workshop to work uniformly with FCC and become familiar with the system. For them, a big advantage lies in the convenience of automatic reporting, rather than what is currently a lot of time-consuming manual work. Automatic portfolio reporting and dashboards ensure that everyone is looking at the same data and that it is flagged earlier if information is incorrect.
  2. Controllers are second in line. They will soon have to enter their forecasts into FCC every month.
  3. Project managers will be the last group to join. Some resistance can be expected there, according to Ronald. Project managers must embrace a new way of working and let go of their familiar tools and resources they have been working with for years. Possibly the transparency of a unified system that everyone can look into also creates some inconvenience. But even they now have to do a lot of manual work and effort to provide reports, which you could also get from FCC at the push of a button. It’s going to provide a lot of value for them as well.

Lessons learned

No transition process goes without trial and error. Ronald shares two learnings from practice.

Don’t overestimate the granularity required of your capacity management. “Initially with us, they wanted to have every employee of Information Services in the system. But that’s actually too much detail at our scale. Due to circumstances in our IT landscape, we had to keep track of that manually. That became unnecessarily complex and labor-intensive. Then we started planning based on teams.” Planning by teams and a few very specific skills, capacity planning is manageable and clear. “We are not currently using the module to link FCC to our ERP system but I would like to move toward that in time.”

Don’t pack your process description too big. “We did once make a full process description based on the Soll situation. We had a tool set up and the users had been instructed, but the rest of the (project) organization was not that far along. So we couldn’t actually work in the new way. In phase two, we then just took small steps and started to see what worked. And that helped.” UWV now works with appointment documents. Departments are running into challenges. These are discussed in the weekly meeting. They formulate a common solution. You record those. That works better than very complicated process diagrams and descriptions.

Reading an appointment document requires discipline. Therefore, that is not the only way knowledge is exchanged. The entire team sits together weekly. In addition, Ronald regularly checks the portfolio landscape, and if he spots anomalous things, he checks with the relevant managers to make sure the information is correct. He notes that it is increasingly rare for information to be incorrect. So the quality of information is going up noticeably.

Best practices

We ask Ronald for recommendations he can make to other organizations looking to take portfolio management to greater maturity. What best practices can he give them?

  • Make sure you have commitment from upper management. That is the most important thing. That gives you the space to tackle things. Without that backup, you won’t make it.
  • Think of your portfolio management as a dynamic thing. Keep working on it. For the transition to using FCC, UWV hired a consultant at the time. That consultant is still watching. Again and again we assess together whether things can be improved. Of course at some point you do bring the frequency down, but it is important to calibrate again and again.
  • Record your agreements well. But do so organically. It may be done in small steps at a time. People then naturally start to see the benefits.

Plans and ambitions

Although Ronald has been involved in portfolio management within UWV and FCC deployment for many years, he still enjoys his work. When asked what his plans are for the period ahead, he indicates “We will soon move to the enterprise cloud-based version of JIRA. Then connecting to JIRA will be easier. I’m looking forward to that. Because with that we will make a big efficiency move.” He also indicated that he would like to work on FCC’s Enterprise portfolio module. “There is still plenty to do!”

Do you also work in an agile or hybrid project organization and want to exchange views on this with specialists? Then sign up now for the PPM and SAFe Roundtable meeting. More information can be found via the button below.