Projects Programmes and Portfolios

Following on from my blog about ‘Projectification‘ and PMO‘s, I thought I’d clearly define Projects Programmes and Portfolios.


A Project is defined as:

A unique transient endeavour undertaken to bring about change and to achieve planned objectives.

I have previously written about different ‘degrees’ of projects calling them Runner, Repeater, and Stranger Projects.

A project may last as little as a week or last several years. Usually Projects will involve more than one person.

Portfolio of Projects

The Association for Project Management (APM) defines Portfolio Management as:

A collection of projects and/or programmes used to structure and manage investments at an organisational or functional level to optimise strategic benefits or operational efficiency. (APM Body of Knowledge version 7, May 2019).

The APM has more detail about portfolio management on its website.

Portfolio management should be integral to business planning to ensure that an organisation meets its strategic objectives.

Programme of Projects

Whilst a portfolio of projects can be unrelated, a programme of projects are linked to one related aim.

A Programme is defined as:

A unique, transient strategic endeavour undertaken to achieve beneficial change and incorporating a group of related projects and business as usual (steady-state) activities. (APM Body of Knowledge version 7, May 2019).

I wrote about the Coventry Friargate Programme in March 2016. I updated this with progress in another blog in August 2017. At the time I tagged these blogs with a “Programme of Projects” label, as they are all connected projects. A programme of projects should contribute to one overall aim, in this case the “Coventry South Redevelopment” scheme.

Projects Programmes and Portfolios and the PMO

The Project Management Office (PMO) serves the Project Management needs of the organisation. This will include looking after the projects, programmes, and portfolios.

The PMO is especially needed when there are many projects and they are competing for insufficient resources. This might be when a organisation moves from using projects tactically, and decides to use projects as a strategic approach. This may be because of Projectification.

Projects Programmes and Portfolios Managers

Each of Projects, Programmes, and Portfolios should have a manager. The managers should ensure that ‘the right projects’ are being selected and ‘executed right’. Effective governance of the projects programmes and portfolios is vital.


It is important to understand if the project you are working on is part of a larger programme of projects. This helps gain respect from team members. Understanding how your project contributes to the overall strategic aims of the organisation is also vital.

One organisations project, could be bigger than another organisations programme.

Posted On: 30th January 2021

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