What is a project?
Projects are temporary endeavours
They have definite start and end dates
Projects deliver unique products or services as outputs
They are constrained by the limited resources of time, cost and scope
Projects are managed by project managers
What is an operation?
Operations are ongoing in nature
They deliver standard products / services as output
Designing a car is a project where as manufacturing cars shift after shift is an operation
Operations are managed by operations managers
What is a program?
A program is a collection of interrelated projects, which when done together gives more value than doing them one after the other.
Improving the traffic conditions of our city is a program. It comprises of metro rail project, water metro project, road improvement project, safety awareness project, drainage systems project. When all these projects are completed together we achieve the programs objective of improving the traffic condition of the city.
Programs are managed by program managers. The constituent project’s project managers report to the program manager.
What is a portfolio?
Organizations have business goals to achieve. They develop strategies to achieve their business goals. These strategies are implemented through projects and programs. The collection of projects, programs and other work an organization is performing to attain it’s organizational goals is known as the project portfolio.
Project portfolio management comprises of the selection, monitoring, controlling of the programs, projects and other work which is part of the portfolio. It also involves measuring the actual returns from the project against the forecasts used to justify the selection of the projects in the first place.
Project portfolios are managed by portfolio managers. The program and project managers of those programs and projects which are part of the portfolio reports to the portfolio manager.
Portfolios are always linked to achievement of organizational goals.
Hope you have understood the basis definitions of projects, programs and portfolios. An understanding of the objective of projects and programs will help us to manage them better than by just going by the start and end dates.
I will elaborate more from PMBOK in the future. Subscribe to my blog to receive every post in your email.