6th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Projects, Programs, and Portfolios

I am starting a project of going through the 6th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide and blogging about its contents.    The 6th Edition was released on September 22nd by the Project Management Institute, and the first chapter is a general introduction to the framework in which project management exists, starting with section 1.2 Foundation Elements (section 1.1 describes the purpose of the Guide).

The section I am going over in this blog post is section 1.2.3 The Relationship of Project, Program, Portfolio and Operations Management.    Let’s take the relationship of projects to programs and portfolios first.   Then in the next post I’ll discuss the relationship of programs and portfolios.


Remember the definition of a project is “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.”   Projects may be grouped together into a program which is “a group of related projects … managed in a coordinated manner.”    The reason for this is so that the projects can achieve a common objective (whether it is a product, service, or result) and managing them together as a project focuses on doing them in an efficient manner.   This can be done not only by planning, executing, and controlling the various projects in a program as a group, but also by sharing resources between those projects.


Program management focuses on doing programs and the projects they contain in the right way; portfolio management focuses on doing the right programs and projects in order to achieve strategic objectives of the organization.    This is done by selecting the right programs, prioritizing the work, and then providing the needed resources.

There is a lot more detail about the internal structure of a portfolio and a program contained on page 12 of the Guide, and a detailed Table 1.2 on page 13 that compares the various characteristics of project, program, and portfolio management.    However, the above overview contains enough information for the project manager to understand why he or she should pay attention to the program and/or portfolio of which their project is a part.

The next post will discuss the relationship between projects and operational management.




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