Difference between Project and Portfolio Management

Today, enterprises are very keen on implementing certain methodologies which will help them to streamline processes and bag business critical projects. In a service-based environment, completing projects and programs are critical for organizational success.

In this regard, we hear senior management and leadership in a company talking about PPM, PM, and PgM. These are nothing but acronyms for Project Portfolio Management, project management, and Program Management. What is the difference between portfolio management and project management? Where do you think program management will fit in? To avoid more confusion, let us explore what each of the entity is and what are the differences.

Portfolio Management:

Portfolio management is a high-level view of all the projects that are running to meet organizational strategic objectives. Those projects can be spread across the organization, a department, or a particular division.

According to “PMI’s 2012 Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report: Portfolio Management”, 62% of projects in an organization described themselves as highly effective in portfolio management met or exceeded expected ROI. Portfolio management shows where the organization is heading and involves setting priorities that are based on business leadership’s objectives. While project management is about executing the projects in a right manner, portfolio management is all about executing the right projects that creates better value.

Project portfolio managers look after projects in an organization and see whether they are being executed properly or not, check if they can be improved, and whether the organization is completely realizing the benefits by executing the projects.

Program Management:

A program is a group of related projects that all contribute to the same business objective or benefit. The program as a whole has a clear, defined goal, and each project within the program assists in meeting those goals.

Program managers look at cross-project dependencies, risks, issues, requirements, and solutions, and may coordinate with individual project managers to achieve these insights and keep the overall program healthy. They’re less concerned with the success of every single individual project, and more focused on the success of the overall initiative and achieving the larger benefit. Program managers are also concerned with making sure the right projects are chosen or prioritized in order to achieve the most business value. Successful programs work towards improvements that will have a long-term impact on the organization, and unlike projects that have a specific end date, programs may be ongoing initiatives.

Organizations manage projects as a larger program because doing so gives you greater control and benefits than you may see by managing them separately. It’s also easier to coordinate and prioritize resources across projects, and oversee progress and outcomes when you look at a group of related projects.

What is Project Management?

While portfolios and programs focus on a higher-level view of an organization’s activities, a project is a single undertaking: a series of tasks that aims to produce a specific product, service, or benefit within a defined timeline.

Project managers oversee individual projects, leading teams and making sure projects are completed on time, within budget, and meet the established requirements. They determine best practices, examine processes to improve efficiency, and work with stakeholders to make sure expected benefits are realized, among other responsibilities.

Good project management means teams and team members are constantly developing and improving, giving the business a competitive advantage.

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Lucy Brown has many years of experience in the project management domain and has helped many organizations across the Asia Pacific region. Her excellent coordinating capabilities, both inside and outside the organization, ensures that all projects are completed on time, adhering to clients' requirements. She possesses extensive expertise in developing project scope, objectives, and coordinating efforts with other teams in completing a project. As a project management practitioner, she also possesses domain proficiency in Project Management best practices in PMP and Change Management. Lucy is involved in creating a robust project plan and keep tabs on the project throughout its lifecycle. She provides unmatched value and customized services to clients and has helped them to achieve tremendous ROI.


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