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The difference between portfolio management and project management

Blog: Monday Project Management Blog

Reputation is important for a business. Having smooth processes, accessible products or services, and a professional image sends the message that you know what you’re doing. On the outside, your business may look perfect, but on the inside, things can get a bit more complicated. To keep your business operating at optimal levels, you need to have good internal processes. This includes levels of managers and employees securing new projects and helping the business continually move forward.

This is where portfolio management vs. project management comes into play. They may sound similar, but they serve different purposes in terms of business goals. Establishing both long- and short-term goals is crucial to your business’s success, so having strategies to accomplish these goals and employees willing to execute them can work in your favor.

Learn more about portfolio management vs. project management, why they’re beneficial, and how you can use these practices to enhance your business strategies.

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Portfolio management vs. project management: what’s the difference?

Portfolio and project management are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are a few key factors that make them different. Let’s take a look at both concepts below to help you better understand the differences.

Portfolio management

Many businesses balance multiple projects in any given year, and they need a way to organize them. Portfolio management is the process of selecting and managing an organization’s projects and programs to help the company grow. It’s all about seeing the big picture and working toward long-term goals.

While sifting through projects, portfolio managers work hard to differentiate between the good and the bad. Determine which goals should be prioritized and choose projects that align with them. One strategy is to look for patterns and connections between projects and then piecing them together. This can lead to establishing a larger portfolio.

Project management

Projects within a company are often temporary tasks that have a start and end date. They tend to focus on unique, short-term goals, such as a new product, marketing strategy, or service. The project manager’s job is to meet all objectives within an established budget and timeframe, sometimes with only limited resources available to them.

Project management relies on strong visualization and problem-solving to achieve the desired outcome. Quick decisions are often made to improve the quality of a product, service, or strategy while saving time. With a strong team working on a project, the process can run smoothly, but any inefficiency can be potentially damaging.

Portfolio vs. project management

The main difference between portfolio and project management is projects focus on unique, short-term goals and are temporary, while portfolios concentrate on long-term goals and involve strategic, cohesive objectives.

Once the deadline for a project has passed, it usually isn’t heard of anymore because its purpose has been fulfilled. A portfolio can span for years, depending on how many projects it contains and what its overall mission is.

How does a portfolio manager differ from a project manager?

Since portfolio management and project management involve different goals and strategies, the responsibilities of a portfolio manager vs. project manager also differ.

Portfolio manager

The main responsibility of a portfolio manager is to make sure the right projects are selected for their specific portfolio. This involves inspecting each project individually to determine if the project aligns with the company’s long-term goals, and if it’ll bring a strategic return. Common tasks a portfolio manager may be in charge of include:

Project manager

A project manager considers the key requirements of an individual objective that fits into the larger picture. They work hard to complete projects by establishing deadlines to prevent overtime or delays. Demonstrating great time management and brainstorming proactive solutions to avoid any serious problems are some top responsibilities of project managers. Other responsibilities include:

Why companies use portfolio management

Portfolio management helps companies ensure their projects are working together in perfect harmony while running as efficiently as possible. For instance, if one project isn’t running smoothly because of a lack of funds or resources, the portfolio manager is in charge of figuring out why and if the project is worth continuing. This can save your business time and money in the long run.

Companies also use portfolio management to determine how their funds should be distributed. If the portfolio manager decides to pull the plug on a project, that can open up funds to put towards other projects that are more beneficial to the business. When new projects are started, they prioritize these projects based on importance and decide how to distribute funds throughout the portfolio by weighing benefits and risks.

If your company has a long-term goal that you’re hoping to reach, portfolio management is meant to help you achieve that goal. By choosing projects that align with company goals, portfolio managers are essentially putting together pieces of a puzzle. Their job is to help your company focus on the big picture and ensure that projects and employees work on matching that vision.

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How can help your teams manage portfolios and projects

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. offers monday projects, a software toolkit that provides customizable features to help you plan, strategize, and deliver your best work. Whether you need help with basic projects or complex portfolio management, monday projects can help you maintain a variety of tasks, including:

The software conveniently connects all moving parts of your project to help your company reach its goals even faster. You can manage multiple projects from one location by creating custom dashboards and assigning team members. If you’re worried about time management, monday projects allows you to streamline projects by automating approvals.

Project dashboards help you stay on track by displaying every task’s progress. Having all your projects managed on one platform also makes it easier to communicate with stakeholders and update changes in real time to push projects forward.

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Related templates

When it comes to portfolio management vs. project management, they’re both equally important to the success of your business. offers templates for both project management and portfolio management that can make these processes easier. The Single Project Template helps you plan and manage every aspect of a project in one place. Use it to track deadlines and budgets, set milestones, organize tasks, and achieve complete visibility.

The Project Portfolio Management Template helps you plan and track complex projects across departments and teams. It offers a high-level view of your success and allows you to streamline project requests. Other features include budget tracking, keeping track of any changes made to projects, and prioritizing work.


What is a project portfolio?

A project portfolio is a collection of projects, processes, or programs that work together to reach the strategic and financial goals of a company. The portfolio manager oversees all aspects of the portfolio and approves or denies program or project ideas. A program manager helps set schedules and budgets for each individual program in a project portfolio. When weighing the responsibilities of a program manager vs. portfolio manager, the portfolio manager usually has more control.

What is portfolio management in project management?

Portfolio management groups together projects that are related to each other. Grouping individual projects into a portfolio can help companies achieve their long-term goals and add more value to each project.

What is the difference between portfolio management and project management?

Portfolio management focuses on balancing multiple projects that assist with achieving long-term goals of a company, while project management focuses on achieving a unique, short-term goal for a company.

Take control of portfolio and project management processes

If you’re trying to find a quicker way to achieve your company goals, has the project management resources you need to be successful. You’ll never have to worry about losing track of deadlines or going over budget again. After learning about the differences between portfolio management vs. project management, save your business time and money by using software trusted by companies worldwide.

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