Project Portfolio Selection under Uncertainty: A DEA Methodology using Predicted and Actual Frontiers

Ahmad Hassan, Wade Cook


Project portfolio management (PPM) is an important area of interest in many organizations. There is a wide literature on each of many different aspects of PPM. The central purpose of the current paper is to focus on a specific sub-area of PPM, namely the project portfolio selection (PPS) problem. Specifically, we develop a new methodology that will aid management in choosing from a set of candidate project proposals, a subset of those project proposals that align with strategic objectives of the organization. Research methodology is based on the data envelopment analysis (DEA) construct to compare a set of decision making units (such as proposed projects) to arrive at an efficiency score for each member of this competing set, derive the best performers, generate an efficiency frontier and quantify inefficiency in the non-best performers. While DEA has been applied in numerous settings, the unique feature of the project portfolio application is the presence of two sets of data, namely pre-implementation “estimates”, and post-implementation “actuals”. Our methodology is unique in that it uses the idea of dual DEA frontiers based on such before and after data for a set of past projects. Dual frontier concept makes not only an important practical contribution to the PPS literature, but as well it opens new directions and provides an innovative advancement in the DEA literature. The requisite data is not publicly available. Therefore, we develop a general methodology to illustrate our technique.

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