Projects, programs and portfolios—pieced together
Effective PPM first starts with an understanding of how project management works at the organizational level. Projects, programs, and portfolios form an organizational hierarchy of initiatives at an organization. Let’s walk through each one.
IT deployments are typically project-oriented and revolve around the successful deployment of specific services, initiatives, or products that satisfy a business need. Project managers are responsible for clarifying the objectives of a project, breaking the project into work-streams, and assigning work to their teams, planning and tracking project timelines and milestones, monitoring the project's risk profile, managing interpersonal relationships and conflict, and ensuring that the project satisfies its financial, timing, and business objectives.
A program is a group of related projects that work together to fulfill the same strategic objective or business benefit. Program managers are typically in charge of several projects at once, but from a higher-level perspective. They may spend less time ensuring the success of each individual project and more time ensuring that the overall strategic objectives of the business are being met by the sum of the results of all projects in the program. Program managers may oversee a group of project managers that are assigned to the specific projects that they control.
At the top of the hierarchy are portfolios. A portfolio contains several programs, often each having its own program manager, and each containing several projects that may have project managers assigned to them. Project portfolio management can be done by one person, or by a Project Management Office (PMO), a whole department whose goal is to identify and allocate resources toward the projects and programs that best satisfy the organization's strategic objectives.