To understand project portfolio management you need to understand when you need a Portfolio Office

The 'half-life' of a Project Portfolio Management Office is a little over two years. They get created and then they get abolished.

Yet the Project Portfolio Management Office can and should play a major strategic role and increase the business contribution of the portfolio—when the role of portfolio management is properly understood.

When Do You Need To Manage Your Projects as a Portfolio?

You need to manage your projects as a portfolio when:

  • the volume of projects allows conflicting projects to be unknowingly created and co-exist
  • the volatility of projects allows events and risks to ‘fall through the cracks’ between projects
  • the dynamics and changes to projects can cause cross project problems and value loss
  • the number of persons/entities involved in project delivery (including consultants and contractors) does not allow their availability and performance information to be readily known
  • a number of projects require access to (to share) rare/expensive specialized skills
  • there are dedicated expert resources, outside of other line structures, who have to be centrally managed
  • inconsistent project results require a common set of approaches, methodologies, tools, standards to be developed, promulgated and managed
  • the value loss from projects (inability to meet expectations/planned results) is recognized as a problem to be dealt with
  • the volume of projects is such that no overall view is known
  • projects decisions are made in isolation but draw on a common pool of resources, funds and/or impact the same business areas
  • management needs/wants an overall view of ‘what’s happening’ and its future implications.

In Conclusion

Project Portfolio Management is about ensuring you do the right projects the right way in the right sequence and realize the right (and cumulative) outcomes and benefits that in turn deliver the organization’s strategy.


Explore further

There are five major roles in portfolio management. You can read about these in our Primer: “Understanding Strategic Portfolio Management” .

Topics: Strategy Execution, Project Controls, Strategic Project Portfolio Management, Program / Project delivery, Project Governance

Further Reading



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Revision History

First published: Simms, J. (June 2015) as "When Do You Need A Project Portfolio Management Office?"

Updated: Chapman, A. (March 2020), Revisions and Corrections