The Role of the Executive Team in Project Portfolio Management

There are several roles in project management, as well as more than one methodology; they often overlap in more than one way. However, all project management roles, including project portfolio management, require expert skills in organization, time management, resource allocation, and budget management.

The project portfolio executive team in an organization is a decision-making body that consists of senior executives whose responsibilities include championing the project portfolio management process, setting portfolio funding levels, approving project recommendations, and providing policy guidance. Decisions taken by the executive team often determine the flow of portfolio management in that organization. These decisions, of course, are then implemented by the portfolio management team.

The project portfolio management team consists of the Portfolio Manager, Portfolio Administrator, and others with a broad knowledge of organizational projects, such as impacted Program Managers, all responsible for the portfolio management process.  Amongst the portfolio management team, the project portfolio manager plays the most vital role in the project portfolio management implementation success as he or she controls the implementation of the project and program portfolio practices and determines what the other team members do.


The Project Portfolio Manager

“Who is a Project Portfolio Manager and what is their role?” is an often-asked yet misunderstood question about project portfolio management. Most definitions give a narrow explanation of it because they do not understand it from actual practice. As we will see, several jobs are engaged in project and portfolio management.

We have previously thoroughly examined the Project Manager’s function, so we will now discuss in details what a portfolio manager really does and the related roles involved in project portfolio management.

The portfolio manager is responsible for integrating projects in his portfolio in line with the company strategic objectives using modern best practices. The portfolio manager recognizes that it is not about managing multiple projects at once, but about continuously evaluating and controlling whether the partial and final results of the projects achieve the objectives of the portfolio. As a result, the portfolio manager is responsible for the commencement of all projects, the load balancing of implemented projects, delivery dependencies, modification approvals, demand prioritization, resource distribution between projects, budget allocation, and strategic alignment.


 In-depth Roles of a Portfolio Manager for Project Success

  1. Lead Role for Portfolio Process

The Project Portfolio Manager’s first and primary role is to oversee the portfolio management process, ensuring that it operates successfully and seamlessly. In most circumstances, the Project Portfolio Manager is not a direct decision maker; rather, their focus is on the process itself. As the principal architect and process owner of the portfolio management process, a Project Portfolio Manager should be the subject matter expert on portfolio management. The Project Portfolio Manager should create and build one or more of the following skills based on the organization’s needs and maturity.


In this vein, the Portfolio manager is responsible for one or more of the following;


  • Generating and collecting best project ideas for generating quality projects for organizations
  • Evaluating, authorizing and monitoring projects through the project lifecycle
  • Developing a project proposal and bringing it to the executive team for a final decision
  • Assessing and managing project portfolio risk level
  • Project planning
  • Resource planning and allocation
  • Portfolio optimization
  • Portfolio risk management
  • Portfolio value management
  • Analyzing and reporting on progress of project


  1. Resource Manager

The portfolio manager is responsible for planning and mobilizing resources between projects, and for appointing project managers by the project charter (here we are not talking about coordination of project managers, but a mere administrative hierarchy).


  1. Effective Communicator

A Project Portfolio Manager communicates across the organization about project and portfolio value, project and portfolio risk, project and portfolio performance, project and portfolio related decisions, and the portfolio management process. Portfolio Managers must have good soft skills and executive presence in order to communicate with executive leadership and across the enterprise.


  1. Instructor

A Portfolio Manager must also be a portfolio management advocate and educator. Despite the fact that portfolio management has grown in popularity among businesses over the last two decades, many top executives still do not understand how to manage a portfolio and thus make poor judgments that lower portfolio value. A skilled Project Portfolio Manager will be able to teach and coach senior leaders on how to manage their portfolio effectively.


A Project Portfolio Manager is directly responsible for portfolio management, but only indirectly for portfolio performance. The portfolio executive team, who are the senior leaders and principal decision makers involved in portfolio management, bears direct responsibility for portfolio performance. The Portfolio Manager is the portfolio’s steward, and he or she should make recommendations to the portfolio governance team on how to improve portfolio performance, which projects to select, prioritize, and optimize the portfolio. However, the Project Portfolio Manager does not have direct authority over the portfolio and hence cannot make these decisions. This is why we refer to portfolio performance stewardship as an indirect responsibility of the Portfolio Manager.

Successful portfolio and project management doesn’t happen overnight. It may take time to figure out which techniques work best for your business, or how to get started. iCentra offers project portfolio expertise to help you plan, strategize, and deliver your best work. Whether you need assistance with simple projects or complex portfolio management, iCentra portfolio professionals can help.

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