"Project Portfolio Management"
So far, we have project management producing new "products, services or results"
via new projects, and we have program management orchestrating multiple projects
and all that this involves. Who then are the recipients of these "products, services
or results"? The answer is operational management, or "operations". However, "operations"
is the core activity of most organizations and it can be demonstrated that this
activity is, in many respects, very different from project management. Consequently,
the larger the organization, the more necessary it is to have some structure that
bridges the difference between projects and operations. That is, from converting
corporate strategy into projects, to garnering benefits from the resulting products.
So, going a step even higher, enter project portfolio management.
The PMBOK guide defines project portfolio management as:
"The centralized management of one or more portfolios to achieve strategic
This definition appears to be circular. TenStep Inc. provides a more informative
definition by defining project portfolio management as:
"A collection of projects or programs and 'Other Work' that are grouped
together to facilitate effective management of that work to meet strategic business
objectives. The projects or programs of the portfolio may not necessarily be interdependent
or directly related."
Both these definitions embody the concept of achieving strategic objectives
that, in turn, implies garnering actual benefits from deploying the products of
the programs and projects.
So there we have it. We suggest that:
- If we want to talk about the effectiveness or efficiency of the delivery of
new "products, services or results", then let's use the term "Project Success".
This is the responsibility of the project manager.
- If we want to talk about the realized value of a particular product at any
time, then use the term "Product Success". This is the responsibility
of the technology manager.
- If we want to talk about delivering a product within scope, quality, time
and cost parameters, then use the term "Project Management Success".
This is the responsibility of the project manager with support from the project's
- If we want to talk about the successful creation of a product to specification,
and its transfer of ownership to operations, followed by successful usage, then
talk about "Program Success". This is the responsibility of the
- If we want to talk about the successful choice of a product, service or result,
its creation, delivery, and deployment, together with the garnering of real benefits
to the organization responsible, then talk about "Project Portfolio Management
Success". This is the responsibility of the project portfolio manager.
We should not forget that the term "success" itself is a multifaceted construct
and the perception of success from one person's perspective may well be different
from any others. Thus, the five perspectives of a project as listed above are
very unlikely to be unanimous. Nevertheless, if we were to use the suggested or
similar differentiating terms, we suspect that we would have much less trouble
in accepting the apparent conflict between hearing about project successes, subsequently
followed by product failures.
Editor's concluding remarks
We hope you have enjoyed the fallout from the original discussion and also
found these summaries both informative and useful.
8. Note that
"portfolio management" must be prefixed by the word "project" to distinguish
this discipline from well-established "Financial Portfolio Management".
9. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge
(PMBOK® Guide) Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., PA, USA,
2013, Glossary, p551
10. See TenStep Inc.'s web site at /www.portfoliostep.com
11. On smaller projects, the role of project manager and technology
manager are often combined, with technology manager predominating.
12. The "project portfolio manager" role is often vested in a
committee of senior management executives, lead by a PPfM chairman.
13. Perhaps better expressed as "product portfolio failure".