Differences between Project Management, Portfolio and Program Management


If you are new to Project Management world, you might have heard about Portfolio or Program management. But what are the differences among them?

First of all we should know that still the Project is a basic building blog of every category.

Program Management

The definition of PMI for Program Management is: “a group of related projects managed in a coordinated manner to obtain benefits not available from managing them individually”. From this definition we can understand that we have a collective notion here and a dependency between the projects. An example is a project to build a retail analytics dashboard. There can be several Scrum teams like security, analytics, UX, but all of them are working on items under a common backlog and a common Product owner. The objective of distinct product teams is to build the dashboard and deliver it. All these teams have a shared purpose and same vision. The Product Owner is responsible for the product management of the final product.

Now when there are multiple programs, the Product Owners and the organization has to include them on the roadmap and prioritize them and not the distinct Projects, as if they prioritize a certain program, it goes without saying that all the projects in the program should be executed.

Portfolio Management

Portfolio Management - Meaning, Importance & Process | Veristrat Inc.

PMI defines Portfolio Management as “a way to bridge the gap between strategy and implementation.” it becomes clear that Portfolio management is connected clearly with the long term strategy of a company. Priorities of a portfolio management are the projects that will transform the business in order to reach the strategic initiatives

Now, what is the difference between the 3 terms. Obviously the lifecycle of each. It doesn’t  take many phases to complete a project but it can take more phases to achieve a portfolio of projects in order to transform your business. For portfolio management you need a strong governance in order to  be able to prioritize certain projects to achieve the long term vision. On the other side, for program and project management you need to focus on individual elements and interdependencies  of the project or products to complete them.

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