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Portfolio Mapping: The Answer To Your Prioritization Problems

May 4, 2018 | Strategy
Individual viewing bubble chart on laptop.

We don’t talk about strategic business units in healthcare enough. There’s no solid business strategy – this is a way to take your work to a higher level.

Regardless of the size of your organization, it’s a common problem to struggle with prioritizing your service lines. You and your team are inundated with various areas of focus and multiple service lines competing for your attention at any given time (or even all at the same time!!). Each department/service line director has their own goals to achieve, and they are relying on you and your team to create solutions to the challenges preventing them from moving forward.

Integrated strategic planning may be intermittent within your organization and when those meetings do take place, marketing decisions are typically made around individual service lines without a lot of data to back it up or thought on how to integrate marketing into a master strategy. They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and while there’s a time and a place for that sort of attention, it’s your role to analyze your organization’s priorities and keep everyone in the loop so you can stay on track (and not loose your mind in the process!).

Setting these priorities can be incredibly challenging. The constant churn of inquiries across departments won’t stop overnight—you’re probably fielding 100 or more daily emails with new requests, follow-ups to existing requests and the last thing you want to tell the service line director is that they’re not part of the priority bucket. You must base your “no’s” on logic so that when someone brings you a request you need to decline, they have a greater understanding and you have a greater justification of your decision.

That’s where portfolio mapping comes in.

Portfolio mapping will allow you to have a solid understanding of the areas that are currently performing well, what’s actually driving dollars for your organization, which areas need assistance, and those that could perform well without much effort from marketing.

Prioritization is more than just ranking your service lines. It is about choosing what to do—and as importantly—choosing what not to do. Priorities must be aligned with your organization’s key strategies and anchored by solid facts.

The first step is cataloguing the key business facts for each of your core services or service lines. You can do this by evaluating the previous year’s revenue and the current year’s projection for each area. If you don’t have this information easily accessible, your finance department holds the key. Reach out to see what information/resources they can provide for each service line. It’s more about comparing your service lines than trying to determine the perfect metric. When researching the services within your organization, some good metrics to consider are market share, profit margin, revenue and capacity.

An ideal approach is to create a bubble chart broken into four quadrants. The x-axis will represent market share and the y-axis will represent profit. By leveraging the information gathered in step one, you’ll use the data to chart each service line to your portfolio map. Let the size of each bubble represent the size of the revenue that service line is bringing in. 

Bubble Chart

What goes where?

This is a lot like a financial portfolio—but for you, it’s a way to look at your business units more strategically, mapping where you’d like your bubbles to grow. The “market” quadrant is where your market share is low and your profit is high—this is the ideal place to spend your resources. In the “maintain” quadrant, where you have high market share and high profits, is still a good place to market, but it takes more resources to drive to higher market share. In the “manage” quadrant, there is low market share and it is not a profitable service. Services that fall in this quadrant require careful assessment.  Is it losing money due to unfilled capacity? If so, look at marketing the service. Or is it losing money for other reasons, in which case you generally are not trying to increase the amount of money you are losing. The “minimize” quadrant will be areas where you have high market share, but the service loses money – generally this is an area where you do not want to invest your marketing resources.

The portfolio mapping tool can help you do a deep dive into establishing your budget and develop recommendations with supporting documentation for the prioritization plan, including the marketing investment and scope of marketing services for each service line. Whether it’s your responsibility to set each department’s budget or you have a preset breakdown from leadership, it’s just important to organize your thoughts around the allocated budgets and heavily weigh them. This will build a case for you in the year to come to work with leadership to make better budget decisions.

Once you establish this plan, stick to it! Marketing operates just like any other department within your organization: you have a budget and must utilize your staff time efficiently to get the biggest ROI for your organization. Your resources are limited, and this plan will streamline and identify the areas that are in the highest need for resources to get everyone on the same page. Evaluate and share your findings annually to help underline your work for the previous year and to set your team up for success in the year ahead.

Click here for our Quick Guide to Portfolio Mapping.

If you’re struggling with planning, we’re here to help! Contact Jennifer Horton at jhorton@tenadams.com or 812-253-5311.

Written by Jennifer Horton

Jennifer is a strategic problem-solver with 20 years of experience strategizing in for-profit and not-for-profit healthcare systems. She simplifies complex healthcare problems, breaking them down into manageable goals to achieve our clients’ large-scale dreams, all while expertly navigating corporate structures and keeping all players engaged along the way.

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