Projects, Programmes and a Portfolio

Link with Organizational Strategy

Projects, Programmes and a Portfolio - Definitions

Process"a systematic series of activities directed towards causing an end result such that one or more inputs will be acted upon to create one or more outputs"

Project - "a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result!

Program"a group of related projects, subprograms and program activities managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits and control not obtainable from managing them individually"

Portfolio - "projects, programs, subportfolios and operations managed as a group to achieve strategic objectives – not necessarily directly related"

An Operation - an organizational function performing the ongoing activities that produce the same product or provide a repetitive service

Business Value – entire value of the business

The definitions shown above in italics are taken from the Glossary of the Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute Inc., 2013 ©2007 – Body Temple

A Comparison between Projects, Programmes and Portfolios

Projects Programmes Portfolios

Narrow scope – specified deliverables

Wide scope – Outcomes measured in benefits, ambiguity

Business Scope – aligned to strategic direction – flex to suit

PM manages change control ; controls changes

PgM expects and embraces change

PoM – monitors broad internal and external environments

Success -> Project Performance criteria

Success -> ROI, New Capabilities through transition and embedding, Benefits

Success -> aggregate performance of portfolio elements

Leadership style – directive, authoritative

Leadership style – influential, relationship centred; stakeholder engagement

Leadership – influential, Board decision making, internal and external relationship building

PM manages specialists

PgM manages project managers

PoM manages portfolio staff

PM motivates using own knowledge and skills; team focus

PgM motivates via Programme Vision, Leadership, winning hearts and minds, Relationships

Leaders – ideas, innovation, synthesis, inspiration, pull leadership

Detailed planning; stage focus

High level planning; Programme focus

Business planning; strategic focus

Monitor team through Team Managers; monitor and control is a key task for the Project Manager

Monitors projects through the Governance structure in place, including Quality Assurance and maybe, Programme Assurance

Monitors aggregate performance; value indicators; early warning systems; Portfolio dashoards requiring Program reports

The Project Management Office (PMO)

Can be a main stakeholder and a Key decision maker - There are three main types:


  • consultative role
  • supplies templates, best practice, training, lessons learnt; has low control


  • consultative role
  • supplies templates, best practice, training, lessons learnt
  • requires compliance and has moderate control


  • consultative role
  • supplies templates, best practice, training, lessons learnt
  • takes control, manages projects directly and has high control

The PMO Responsibility Areas

A management structure

Centralized and coordinated management of projects

Small and extended PMOs exist

Focus on:

  • standardised project related governance
  • support to PMs
  • may directly manage project; shared resources across projects
  • resource conflicts; priority conflicts
  • PM standards; templates; best practices; methodologies and metrics
  • interdependencies between, communication across projects
  • training; development; coaching; mentoring; supervision

The Project Manager's Role

Be able to create, identify, capture, influence, coordinate, drive, chase, performance manage, report, complete and close

Be knowledgeable on the PMBOK® Guide and project management

Capability and Performance – be able to exercise the skills to manage the project and achieve its objectives

Personal Effectiveness – be able to:

  • build a performing team
  • lead and manage people in own team
  • influence others not directly in PM's chain of command
  • achieve the project objectives,
  • exercise appropriate attitudes and interpersonal skills


Firebrand Training grants you a personal, non-exclusive, non-transferable license to access and use the site. You may download or print material from the site only for your own personal, non-commercial use. Read our full terms and conditions on