Project portfolio

Why do we perform projects?. Organizations have business goals to achieve. Business strategies are formulated to achieve business goals. Programs and projects support these business strategies. Careful project selection, planning, execution and closure on time is important. Very often because of the changes in the environment, business goals gets revised. Therefore the project selection will also get revised.

Project portfolio management involves;

  • Selection of the correct programs and projects which are in alignment to the business strategy
  • Maintaining the alignment of the business strategy and the project portfolio
  • Measurement of the actual benefits obtained from the project portfolio

Project portfolios are managed by Portfolio managers


A program is a collection of inter-related projects, which when done together, gives you some added advantage than doing them one after the other”

For effective management of related projects we manage them as a program. A program comprises of several inter-related projects. When done together they give more benefits than doing them one after the other.

Programs are managed by program managers. If the program is part of a port folio, then the program manager reports to the portfolio manager.


  • Projects have definite start and end dates (Designing a new car)
  • They are temporary in nature
  • Performed by people
  • Delivers unique products or services
  • Projects are progressively elaborated. When you start projects, we know very less about them. We learn more about the projects as they progress.

Projects are managed by project managers. If the project is part of a program, then the project managers report to the program managers.


If required, projects are broken down further into sub-projects for better project management.


  • Operations are repetitive and ongoing (manufacturing a specific model of a car)
  • Produce standard outputs
  • Both operations and projects are constrained by limited resources (time, cost, scope, resources)
  • Both operations and projects are planned and executed

Operations are managed by operations managers.

Project portfolio example

What all things can be part of a project portfolio?. As we can see in the diagram above, programs A,B,C are the programs in the portfolio. Program A has two sub programs A.1 and A.2. Sub program A1 contains Projects A1.1, A1.2 and A1.3. Project A1.3 comprises of two sub projects A 1.3.1 and A 1.3.2. Sub program A.2 comprises of projects A.2.1 and A2.2. The project 1 in the diagram is not part of any program, but still is part of the portfolio. Apart from Programs, Sub-programs, Projects, Sub-projects operations also can be part of portfolio.

Can a portfolio have multiple programs? . What do you think?. The correct answer is ‘Yes’, project portfolio can have programs.

Can there be an independent project in a portfolio which is not part of any program?. Of course, yes.

Portfolio, Program, Sub-Program, Projects, Sub-projects..Is this the right hierarchy?. Yes, this is the right logical sequence.

Once a project portfolio is finalized, can it change?. Yes, based on business needs it can change.

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