An introduction to 3P management
While we commonly talk about project management, many of the skills and concepts can actually refer to more than just a standalone project.
The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) states that a project might be managed in ‘three separate scenarios: as a stand alone project… within a program, or within a portfolio’. (PMI 2017: 13)
The table below (taken from the PMBOK) offers a definition of projects, programs and portfolios and compares the 3Ps across key elements of project management.
|Definition||A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.||A program is a group of related projects, subsidiary programs and activities, coordinated to obtain benefits not available from managing them individually.||A portfolio is a collection of projects, programs, subsidiary portfolios, and operations managed as a group to achieve strategic objectives.|
|Scope||Projects have defined objectives. Scope is progressively elaborated throughout the project life cycle.||A program’s scope encompasses those of all its project components. Programs benefit an organisation by ensuring that the outputs and outcomes of its components are delivered in a coordinated and complementary way.||Portfolios have an organisational scope that changes with the strategic objectives of the organisation.|
|Change||Project managers expect change and implement processes to keep change managed and controlled.||Programs are managed in a way that adapts to change to optimise the delivery of benefits as their components deliver outcomes and/or outputs.||Portfolio managers continuously monitor changes in the broader internal and external environments.|
|Planning||Project managers progressively elaborate high-level information into detailed plans throughout the project life cycle.||Programs are managed using high-level plans that track the interdependencies and progress of the components. Program plans are also used to guide planning at the component level.||Portfolio managers create and maintain necessary processes and communication relative to the aggregate portfolio.|
|Management||Project managers manage the project team to meet the project objectives.||Program managers ensure that program benefits are delivered as expected, by coordinating the activities of a programs components.||Portfolio managers may manage or coordinate portfolio management staff, or program and project staff that may have reporting responsibilities into the aggregate portfolio.|
|Monitoring||Project managers monitor and control the work of producing the products, service, or results that the project was undertaken to produce.||Program managers monitor the progress of program components to ensure the overall goals, schedules, budget and benefits of the program will be met.||Portfolio managers monitor strategic changes and aggregate resource allocation, performance results, and risk of the portfolio.|
|Success||Success is measured by product and project quality, timeliness, budget compliance, and degree of customer satisfaction.||A program’s success is measured by its ability to deliver intended benefits to an organisation, and by the program’s efficiency and effectiveness in delivering those benefits.||Success is measured in terms of the aggregate investment performance and benefit realisation of the portfolio.|
Adapted from PMI (2017: 13)
Can you give an example of a project, a program and a portfolio from your own experience? Post them in the comments.
Project Management Institute (2017) A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge: PMBOK Guide. 6th edn. Newtown Square, Pennsylvania: Project Management Institute
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