Projects, Programmes and Portfolios

How to implement good governance and be sustainable in the short and long term.

Projects, programmes and portfolios enable us to make the best use of limited human resources and funding while at the same time enabling sustainable development and change.

Sustainability

Organizational capability to govern, manage and deliver change, needs to be structured and integrated with other critical business functions. This includes but is not limited to to strategic business planning, resource management, financial control, IT service management, organizational development, and other business as usual operations.
Projects, programmes and portfolios give us the governance structures and best management practices to manage change at different levels. Use these structures to improve the flow of value, maximise the value delivered in the shortest possible time, reduce waste and eliminate overload.
Having the three different types of organisation working together should help to simplify and improve delivery of change management.

We will look at how each organisation type helps us manage change from a different perspective so that we can manage the complexity that is inherent in modern day life.

You will see the following words used throughout this site, so here is a definition as to what they mean in the context of project management.
Output: The product or service that is delivered by the project. At the beginning of a project this can be defined in a document called the project product description.
Capability:The complete set of outputs from the project(s) required to deliver an outcome
Outcome: The change resulting from the operational staff making use of the capability (output) delivered by the project(s)
Benefit: Is a measurable improvement resulting from an outcome, which contributes towards one or more organisational objectives.
A measurable improvement which results from operating a new business process
Dis-benefit : Is a measurable deterioration resulting from an outcome, which has a negative impact on one or more organisational objectives.
Resources is a general term that refers to anything an organisation needs to operate such as people, money and buildings

What are the relationships and differences between projects, programmes and portfolios?

Portfolio, Programme and Project Governance

The following simple high level definitions will give you a scense of the differences between projects, programmes and portfolios, as organisations used to deliver change.

Project organisation

Projects are temporary organisations that that ensure you do things right in terms of delivering the right output. Projects are focused on delivering outputs that give the capability that can then be used by operational departments to achieve outcomes and realise benefits.
Projects can be run as individual organisations or as sub-organisations to a programme. When you are running multiple projects that are not part of a programme then you may want to use portfolio management to prioritise projects and coordinate resources between projects.
Project Management

Programme organisation

Programme organisations are temporary, comprising of multiple projects and other activities. The programme management will ensure the right projects and activities are done at the right time and deliver the needed results in the context of the programme objectives. As an umbrella organisation to the component projects, programmes focus on achieving strategic outcomes and realising benefits based on the capability delivered by its component projects. The programme organisation and the programme manager in particular are responsible for developing and maintaining the programme environment to support each individual project within it.
Programme Management

Portfolio organisation

Portfolios are permanent organisational structures that enable a systems approach in which transformational initiatives (programmes and projects) can be prioritised and managed at the system/strategic level. The portfolio organisation makes sure that you initiate and deliver the right programmes or projects at the right time in terms of the whole organisation’s needs. This ensurs that the business / organisation optimises the return on their limited resources. One key benefit derived from the investment in setting up a portfolio organisation is the development and retention of knowledge on programmes and projects that can be used accross the organisation.
Portfolio Management

If you are working with Projects, Programmes and Portfolios then you will also need to develop your skills in these specialist areas.

  • Resource Management
  • Benefits Management
  • Organization Governance
  • Stakeholder Engagement & People Management
  • Communication Management
  • Risk Management
  • Financial Management
  • Time Management
  • Procurement
  • Change Management


  • Project, programme and portfolio organisations are useful structures for any size of organisation that implements change initiatives. I have used these approaches in small 10 person companies as well as companies with hundreds of employees.
    If you want to discuss how your organisation can benefit from these structures please give me a call.

    If you want help implementing and running projects, programmes or portfolios I will be happy to supply services for that as well.

    Some information on the project management service I offer

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