← Go Back

If we take a closer look at successful enterprises and the way they operate, it becomes clear that their growth and establishment in the market is never a result of mere chance, rather it is the final outcome of various forces working together successfully. These invisible forces that operate in the background of each enterprise are the project managers and the portfolio managers, along with all employees and other stakeholders.  

While the terms ‘employee’ and ‘stakeholder’ are well established and their role is quite readily understood in today’s business world, the difference between the duties of a project and a project portfolio manager within an organization are not always so clear and well-known. Although their function is quite connected, these two distinctive roles represent very different elements in the sphere of project management, driving very different operations. As Bob Buttrick, project management honorary expert said: “Understanding how portfolio management, maturity and matrix management combine to drive business success is key to making organizations truly customer, value and benefit focused, as opposed to just cost driven”.

So, before diving into the core differences between the two distinctive roles and contribution of a project manager and a project portfolio manager in an enterprise, we first need to define the job description and main aims of their position.

What is PM?

A project manager is responsible for running a project from its inception to its completion, within certain restrictions on time, budget and quality standards. A project manager’s main aim is to coordinate all actions, efforts and processes of a project and ensure its progress towards a successful completion.

A project manager’s job includes collaboration with project teams and stakeholders, task delegation and the project’s development follow-up. They are responsible for defining a project’s scope and objectives, assigning tasks, planning the sequence of procedures and ensuring the project’s adherence to time, budget and quality requirements.  

What is PPM?

Project portfolio management has a larger scope and aim than project management. While project management is about directing a single project successfully, project portfolio management is about selecting and successfully executing the right projects for the organization. A project portfolio manager has a broadened view of all the organization’s projects. Their duties include evaluating all project performances, investigating ways that these projects could be improved and examining each project’s contribution to the company’s overall objectives.

Project portfolio management is exercised when an organization brings together projects with a common goal, aiming to maximize their profit margin and increase overall return of investment. To better understand the question: “What is ppm?”, it ought to be perceived as a process which is designed to bring accelerated growth, and execution improvement to an organization.

To this end, project portfolio management is a form of centralized management, whose aim is to identify, prioritize and authorize the projects an organization is undertaking. This includes an appraisal process of ranking and evaluating the risks and benefits of each project. At a second stage, projects need to be frequently measured and, if necessary, to be coordinated individually.  

While the line between project management and project portfolio management is often quite blurred, there is a clear distinction between them. Even though both parties are highly concerned with the successful implementation of projects, a project manager is focused on the success of one single project while the project portfolio manager concentrates on the overall success of all implemented projects working towards the long-term objectives of the organization.