What’s the Difference Between Project and Portfolio Management?

Difference between project and portfolio management?

What’s the difference between Portfolio and Project management?

Many individuals new to the project management, or indeed portfolio management field, will struggle to establish a clear and concise understanding of the key differences between Project and Portfolio Management.

In a field dominated by complicated software offerings and complex acronyms, how would an inexperienced individual be able to distinguish between whether their needs fell within the Project management niche, or the less well understood, more emergent, field of Portfolio management?

Throw in the added confusion surrounding the needlessly complicated software offerings made available to assist professionals in carrying out the above tasks, and you’re left with, at best, needing to sink hours into research to figure out what you really need, and at worst, being required to enlist the assistance of expensive professional services agencies to help you identify what you’re after. (As a side note, we do that for free!)

Let’s start by breaking down each field as it’s important to have a clear understanding of both in order to be able to identify their nuances.

What is the difference between project and portfolio management?

The differences can often be hard to understand for newcomers.

What is Project management?

Whilst Portfolio and Programme management is concerned with the macro, the all-encompassing, the global direction, Project management is all about the micro. The single project. The set of co-ordinated interconnected tasks, synergistically managed in order to produce a specific measurable outcome, product, or deliverable. A Project management professional will be responsible for the end product (be it a housing complex, or new product to market) being delivered on time, and to budget (…hopefully!)

The Project management professional will often make use of a vetted software product in order to carry out their work. Our team at HPS are experts in the Oracle Primavera suite of products – the industry leading Project and Portfolio management software solution. The project professional’s use of a software application (such as Oracle Primavera P6), will allow him or her to gain vital procedural oversight – a birds eye view of his or her operation, designed to reduce risk, increase efficiency, monitor spending, and ensure on time delivery of project.

The project manager’s greatest asset is information. Without it tasks cannot be effectively monitored, and if they cannot be monitored, they cannot be adjusted in order to improve positive outcome.

What is the difference between project and portfolio management?

The Portfolio Manager will often sit atop the management pyramid.

What is Portfolio Management?

Portfolio management refers to the management and adjusted monitoring of an enterprise or company’s net activates being carried out in line with a broader strategic objective or plan. Portfolio management sits above project management, with the portfolio management team often being accountable directly to senior C-level executives. Indeed, an in-house portfolio manager will often have individual project managers reporting to him or her as they work on specific projects contained within a specific portfolio objective. For example, the above project manager is managing the construction of a housing complex. This Project manager will report to the portfolio manager who is managing the cross spectrum financial risk and operational outcome objectives of a public sector construction firm.

Often, the key task of an effective portfolio management professional will be deciding which projects to undertake, in which order. The decisions associated with closing or ending infective non-yielding projects are also essential.

As with Project Management, It is without a doubt that every Portfolio manager should be conducting their work using a applicable software solution. This is industry best practice. To not be handing capital intensive portfolios with adequate computing tools is akin to a surgeon operating without a scalpel. Ineffective at best. Highly dangerous at worst. 

The team at Hyde Park Solutions have extensive experience in designing and implementing world class Oracle P6 EPPM and wider Oracle Unifier and Oracle OPPM Portfolio Management solutions. With extensive experience in working with very large corporate clients, we welcome discussion on any Project or Portfolio Management needs.