Comparing multiple portfolio analysis scenarios

Summary: Learn how to compare multiple portfolio analysis scenarios in the Project Web Application

Applies to: Project Online, Project Server 2016, Project Server 2013

One of the most commonly asked questions in project management is, "Are we delivering the right projects?" The portfolio analysis module in PWA is designed to help organizations answer that question. The portfolio analysis module answers that question by performing the following functions:

  • Centralizing a list of requested projects or proposals.

  • Developing a list of the estimated costs required to deliver those projects.

  • Developing a list of the estimated resources required to deliver those projects.

  • Providing several methods to prioritize the list of requested projects or proposals.

  • Providing the organization with the ability to explore the various dimensions of the project portfolio.

These features may be combined to create specific scenarios. For example, one scenario may assume annual funding levels of $20,000,000. Other scenarios may assume funding levels of $10,000,000. Some scenarios may prioritize growth. Other scenarios may prioritize risk mitigation.

The process of assessing these scenarios and defining an optimal selection of projects is known as portfolio analysis. Portfolio analysis is a core feature in the Project Web Application, and is available in Project Online and supported versions of Project Server.

This article will teach you how to review the results of the portfolio analysis process.


It is assumed that you have created and saved several portfolio scenarios as part of your cost and resource analysis activities.

Comparing Scenarios

Within the Analyze Costs or Analyze Resources interfaces, click on the Compare button in the Analysis tab.

The Analyze Resources option on the toolbar

This will take you to the Compare Scenarios interface.

Sample Compare Scenarios

The Compare Scenarios screen has three main components:

  • Compare metrics

  • Efficient frontier/Scenario chart

  • Compare project selection

Compare metrics

The Compare Metrics grid summarizes key metrics from all of your saved scenarios.

Sample Compare Metrics grid

Specific metrics that are displayed include:

Metric Analysis type Description
Projects selected Cost, Resource Number of projects you selected in each scenario.
Additional Resources (Work) Resource Additional hours required from resources to deliver the portfolio. (See the article on resource analysis for more information on how this is calculated.)
Strategic value Cost, Resource Total value of the selected projects. This will display as a percent of the total value of the portfolio.
Additional Fields (as configured) Resource If you added additional fields to the Metrics grid in the Analyze Cost or Analyze Resources interfaces, those fields will be displayed here.
Additional Resource Constraint Resource Displays additional parameters used in the resource analyses (i.e., additional resources added or additional cost of added resources).

Efficient frontier/scenario chart

The efficient frontier will display if no resource analysis has been saved. Once a resource analysis has been saved, the screen will display a scenario chart.

Sample scenario chart

The efficient frontier is a commonly used calculation in scenario modeling.

Sample efficient frontier

Each project is classified by estimated benefits and cost. The optimal combination of projects is then displayed for each cost point.

A portfolio that is on the efficient frontier represents the most value that can be achieved for that cost. A portfolio below the efficient frontier communicates that more value can be achieved for the same cost.

When you save a resource scenario, it will appear on the Scenario Chart. The Scenario Chart is a scatter graph depicting each of the scenarios by cost and strategic value.

Sample scenario chart

Compare project selection

This grid will summarize each of the projects you have analyzed. The grid shows which projects were selected for each scenario.

Sample project selection grid

Organizations often use this information to calculate which projects are most likely to be selected – across all calculated scenarios. Being selected in multiple scenarios implies the project will more likely provide value to the organization.

After completing the scenario comparison, select the optimal scenario for your organization.

Scenario dropdown menu option in toolbar

In the next step, we will commit these projects to execution.