This analysis was inspired by Darren Radford, coauthor of Going Beyond The Waterfall, published by J. Ross Publishing © 2014, in Table 1.1 on p6, titled: "Differences between project, program and portfolio management".
Published here December 2014

Introduction | Project Management Generally
Body of Knowledge Domains – Core Project Management Functions | Facilitating Functions
Project Implementation | Conclusions

Project Management Generally

Domain

Level

Comparative Responsibilities

Contextual Environment

Project

Objectives driven; tactical, predictable, reliable, performance-based tools and techniques; time limited. Target is product completion; awareness of stakeholder involvement.

Program

Overall program goals driven; generally complex and uncertain; requires flexibility and responsive, learning-based approach; time is indefinite. Target is overall program progress; cultivation of stakeholder support.

Portfolio

Corporate vision and strategy driven; tools to identify, select, prioritize, balance, and initiate the right mix of projects; effectively a part of permanent corporate management. Target is realizing benefits; coordination of stakeholder commitment.


Governance

Project

"Rules of engagement" set by Program Management Office, if present. If not then by Project Portfolio Management Office, if present. If not then by corporate policies and procedures.

Program

"Rules of engagement" set by Project Portfolio Management Office, if present. If not then by corporate policies and procedures.

Portfolio

"Rules of engagement" set by corporate policies and procedures, consistent with corporate vision, strategies and culture.

Executive

"Rules of engagement" set by Board of Directors and related corporate stakeholders.


Management

Project

Business-like agreements; authority-based directive style; conflict resolution; single purpose and rational decision-making; activity authorization. Focus is on project objectives. Style: authoritarian.

Program

Exploratory change for the better providing vision and leadership; management of powerful stakeholders, including sponsor engagement; intuitive decision-making. Focus is on program goals. Style: facilitation.

Portfolio

Management, coordination and accounting for business benefit. Focus is on corporate portfolio strategies; Business Case acceptance; and program authorization. Style: Stakeholder leadership, administration.


Stakeholders

Project

Primarily: Program Office, project's client, sponsor, team members, and hired resources. Clear and concise, two-way.

Program

A broader range of stakeholders who have an interest in the project, e.g. Project Portfolio Management Office, members of the public benefitting or impacted by the project, media and related actors. Public relations style.

Portfolio

Corporate office, investors, politicians, public at large. Communicate with stakeholders relative to the overall portfolio. Political style.


Planning

Project

Standard approach: What must be done to reach a future objective, how, who and when. Detailed delivery plans created.

 

Program

Overall program plan to drive stakeholder engagement; establish milestone sequence and pacing; allocation of internal resources and overview of external resources; and benefits realization planning.

 

Portfolio

Convert corporate vision into a viable selection of projects; maintain executive support; scan the internal and external environments for changes impacting the portfolio; modify the portfolio accordingly; create and maintain necessary standardized reporting practices suited to this level; ensure optimum benefits reaping.
 

Introduction  Introduction

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