The 4 P’s of Management

20 May

The four P’s that are often confused or interchanged in conversation are: Program, Project, Portfolio, and Product Management, so I thought it would helpful to clarify these terms below.


  • Collection of projects or programs that are grouped together to meet strategic business objectives
  • Focuses on ensuring that projects and programs are reviewed to prioritize resource allocation and that the management of the portfolio is consistent with and aligned with the organizational strategic goals and objectives
  • A project portfolio could be all of the projects for the entire organization or projects by division or business in a large corporation


  • A group of projects that are related, as this coordination of projects may decrease risk, economies of scale, obtain benefits, and improve management that could not be achieve if the projects were not managed as part of a program
  • They are on-going and may have no end in sight
  • Programs may include elements of work that is related outside of the scope of the discrete projects in the program
  • Include ongoing operations, such as a program manager for a software development company, whom is responsible for product releases, multiple releases overtime, and ongoing sales
  • Provides leadership and direction for the project manager’s heading the projects within the program
  • A program will always have projects, but not all projects may be included as part of a program


  • Is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result (PMBOK)
  • Defined start and end date that has a specific objective, that when attained with signify completion
  • Responsible for developing the project plans, keeping the project on track, monitoring & controlling the project, and communicating the project status and performance
  • More internal/inward facing and focused on the release management, product duration, and resource allocations


  • A product is part of a project, as a project is a unique product, service or result
  • Wants their product to be as long-lived as possible and as profitable as possible
  • When the demand for the product diminishes, the product manager will always look for spin-offs to keep a product alive
  • Good product managers drive customer-relevant decisions or choices despite uncertainty and contradictory goals
  • More external/outward facing on market visible decisions and focused on the product strategy & lifecycle
Can you think of additional attributes to add to the list above?  Please comment below, as I would like to hear about them!  Thank you!

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