A portfolio is a collection of initiatives (proposals, projects, programs and other work) that are regarded as essential to the organization to meet its strategic, long term objectives as well as its short term objectives (for example customer orders). The initiatives must be possible to quantify in order for them to be measured and prioritized. A Business Case should always be developed for all initiatives.
The initiatives in the portfolio may be independent from each other.
Initiatives in a portfolio usually share the following common factors:
- They represent an investment; they require resources up front to generate future benefits to the organization.
- They must be aligned with the strategic objectives.
- Their costs and benefits must be possible to quantify, measure, control and prioritize.
The portfolio may consist of projects and programs. In some cases a portfolio may also have sub-portfolios and can include other assignments beside programs and projects. A program will consist of at least two separate projects and may also consist of other work that needs to be performed for the program to reach its objectives.
- The Portfolio has a business scope that will change over time to fulfil the strategic objectives.
- Programs have a wide scope that, usually, will change to meet the benefit realization.
- Projects usually have a narrow scope and will result in one or more deliverables (products, services or results). Change Requests in projects will be kept to a minimum.
- A portfolio will be measured in terms of how well it aggregates to the organization’s business objectives.
- Programs will be measured in terms of the benefits and/or new capabilities delivered to the organization.
- Projects will be measured in terms of how well they deliver the agreed scope in time and within budget.