While we are at it, we should be clear on what we mean by the terms we have used so far. We have selected the following definitions for their relevance to the subject at hand.
Project - A systematic process for achieving a distinct objective. The "system" consists of a period of "planning" followed by a period of "doing", and this system is repeated at every level of detail in the work breakdown structure until the project is complete. These two "periods" are the genesis of the project life span. The project ends when the product or service is delivered and all paperwork completed.
Program - A temporary, flexible organization structure created to coordinate, direct and oversee the implementation of a set of related projects and activities in order to deliver outcomes and benefits related to the organization's strategic objectives. A program is likely to have a life that spans several years. The program does not deliver products and services directly. That is done by the projects within the program. The program ends when the last project in the sequence is completed.
Project portfolio - A set of projects and/or programs, not necessarily related, brought together for the sake of control, coordination and optimization of the portfolio in its totality. Unlike projects and programs that exist for a limited time, the portfolio may remain in existence indefinitely.
Project Portfolio Management - A process designed to ensure that individual projects, initiatives, and the required resources are all coordinated and aligned with corporate strategy, thereby ensuring the most value and least risk for the invested resources. In addition, the process allows the corporate strategy to be communicated throughout the organization, better equipping it to choose and execute those projects and initiatives that support the strategy, while eliminating those that do not. Project portfolio management will be required, and should continue to exist, while ever there are two or more projects to be managed.
For those companies that implement a project portfolio management office, these responsibilities are clearly at a similar level to the well-established departments supporting corporate organizations, such as finance, accounting, human resources, purchasing, legal and so on.
Corporate Governance - as we said earlier, corporate governance is "the system by which companies are directed and controlled". We will elaborate on this in a later section.
8. Wideman Comparative Glossary of Project Management Terms v. 5.5, definition #[D03426]
9. Ibid, definition #[D06124]
10. Ibid, definition #[D06500]
11. Ibid, definition #[D05080]