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


In a corporate context, many people use the term "Project Management" in the broader sense of deploying projects in the corporate environment. That is, instead of meaning the conduct of a single project. These projects quite often span across, or are based in, multiple divisions and/or departments of the organization as a whole. So if a broader definition is accepted, then for purposes of managing a significant number of projects, we can visualize project management as a tiered management structure.

Each level up this structure represents a progressive order of magnitude in management responsibility. Such a scenario necessarily involves a considerable number of people, often with conflicting concerns, interests, priorities and demands that need managing. Hence, the need for a strong and clear management structure from the corporate executive level down to those working at the activity level.

In the last couple of decades, four project "responsibility" levels have come to be recognized, that is, from the project level up: Project; Program; Portfolio; and Executive (at the corporate level). So, for purposes of clarification, these "levels" may be defined as:

Project: A temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.[1] (That is to say, for a single project);
Program: A group of related projects, subprograms, and program activities managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits not available from managing them individually.[2]
Portfolio: Projects, programs, sub-portfolios, and operations managed as a group to achieve strategic objectives.[3]
Executive: The senior level of management of a corporation having the power to direct, authorize, and give high level approvals.

The Tables that follow summarize the findings of our study.


  1. The organization in question is large, with a significant number of projects in play
  2. Top management is focused on remaining competitive, maintaining technological efficiency, and/or improving services to customers
  3. The number of projects at play exceeds the resources available.
  4. The organization as a whole has an assessed project management maturity level of 3/5 or higher.

"Project management" is more than "The application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements."[4] (Emphasis on single project added.) Instead, "Project Management is the totality of managing projects throughout the organization and at all levels."[5]

For the project management domains shown, responsibilities are tabulated briefly for each project management level. The entries demonstrate the changes in focus between the management levels.


1. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, Fifth Edition, PMI®, PA, 2013, Glossary, p553
2. Ibid
3. Ibid, p551
4. Ibid, p554
5. R. Max Wideman, October, 2014.
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