Rethinking portfolios

discriminating between strategy and projects



Portfolio management is a subject about which much has been written, but it is one where there continues to be confusion and lack of clarity. For many organizations, the drive to implement portfolio management stems from an absence of effective strategic decision making. For those that do have strong strategic planning processes, however, there is often a question of where portfolio management actually fits.

Strategic management, portfolio management, and project management are separate and distinct ideas with overlapping orbits. While they should be able to maintain a corresponding level of gravity in how they are applied in organizations, the reality is that they do not. Differences in culture, politics, and management practice mean that some aspects see greater levels of emphasis and formality, and others much less—or none at all. There is also a lack of clarity between the boundaries between the concepts of strategy and portfolio, leading to confusion regarding the role of each and the appropriate processes by which each should be managed.

This paper provides several case studies that illustrate the challenges of integrating portfolio management and strategic planning models in several organizations, as well as a case study in which both models have been implemented in a manner that allows them to interact and coexist successfully. From these case studies, appropriate boundaries for each model are suggested.


The Need to Clarify Distinctions between Strategy and Portfolios

Strategic management, portfolio management, and project management are separate and distinct ideas with overlapping orbits. While they should be able to maintain a corresponding level of gravity in how they are applied in organizations, the reality is that they do not. Differences in culture, politics, and management practice mean that some aspects see greater levels of emphasis and formality, and others much less—or none at all.

What this means for organizations is a lack of clarity around how strategic choices, governance decisions, and project expectations are established. Senior managers struggle to ensure that the most important priorities are being emphasized in the work of the organization. Middle managers are faced with conflicting demands, expectations, and obligations to other areas of the organization while at the same time attempting to move their own priorities forward. Project managers are faced with numerous project obligations while lacking clarity regarding the priorities and strategic expectations of each.

In the absence of clarity, solutions are attempted for problems they are not necessarily designed to support. Other critical dimensions of governance and decision making get ignored or are given insufficient emphasis. Important work risks being marginalized while potentially lower-priority initiatives continue to move forward. To address these issues and provide guidance for organizations challenged by the intersecting dimensions of strategy, portfolio, and project, this paper endeavors to define and clarify their unique purposes and intents and how they can more effectively interact together.

The Origins of Portfolio Management

Portfolio management has its origins in the field of product development, and specifically focusses on the identification of which new-product opportunities should be funded and initiated given the many opportunities available. As initially defined, portfolio management was intended to address challenges of appropriate resource allocation as well as ensuring strategic alignment of product development projects. It was intended to be an active process, in which product development projects are constantly updated in response to changing information, shifting objectives, and evolving strategy considerations (Cooper, Edgett, & Kleinschmidt, 1997b).

In follow-on work of Cooper, Edgett, and Kleinschmidt (1997a), there was recognition that strategy was separate from portfolio management. They needed to work together, and successful portfolio management recognized that strategic alignment was of critical importance. In particular, this involved addressing and answering two critical questions: Are all product development projects consistent with the strategy of the organization, and Does the breakdown of spending within the organization reflect strategic priorities? While the two papers by Cooper et al present an argument for the importance of portfolio management, they also highlight a number of practical challenges that have been realized in its implementation. Particular problems that were highlighted in observing the implementations of portfolio management within organizations suggested issues with portfolio results not aligning to strategy, poor quality portfolios resulting from decision processes, decision-making processes being seen to be ineffective, and insufficient resources spread across too many projects, resulting in a lack of focus.

From its roots in the domain of product development, the definition of portfolio management has continued to evolve to encompass a broader range of organizational projects. Portfolio management has become established as a mechanism for evaluating and prioritizing all projects within an organization, or at least within an organizational unit. This has included the definition of a standard for portfolio management by the Project Management Institute (PMI), which defines portfolios as a means of aligning programs and projects within an organization with the overall formulation of organizational strategy (Project Management Institute, 2006).

While there continues to be repeated arguments for the value and relevance of portfolio management, studies also continue to reflect challenges in effectively implementing portfolio management approaches. Cited challenges include the ability to ensure alignment with goals, difficulties making appropriate judgments about the future, and the ability to develop successful estimates (Williams & Samset, 2010). Other studies have suggested inappropriate categorization of projects in defining and establishing their portfolios (Crawford, Hobbs, & Turner, 2006). Additional challenges include uncertain and ambiguous strategies, complex relationships between portfolios and strategies, failure to appropriately evaluate alternatives, and inappropriate decision-making approaches, including politics overriding rational judgment (Pedersen & Nielsen, 2011). All of this suggests ongoing problems in portfolio management supporting the attainment of strategic alignment that was originally expected and desired.

Given the ongoing promotion of portfolio management, and the stated desire by executives and managers alike for better alignment of projects with organizational strategy, one would expect better results than have been empirically and anecdotally observed. This paper explores the continual challenges being experienced by organizations in understanding the purpose of—and delineating the difference between—strategy, portfolio, and project. It investigates why they are different and why they need to stay different, and instances where these concepts have been misused as well as applied successfully.

Distinguishing Strategy and Portfolios

Which Came First?

The challenges that have been encountered in implementing portfolio management have often involved ensuring appropriate alignment of portfolios with strategy. Yet, virtually every definition of portfolio management (and certainly those discussed here thus far) has indicated that ensuring strategic alignment is an essential role. This raises the question of where the challenges being experienced arise: Is it a failure of strategy to effectively define the required information to support portfolios, or is it a failure of portfolio management to effectively respond to and translate strategy?

In investigating the question of where alignment issues originate, some interesting realizations emerge. In particular, endeavoring to understand the mechanisms by which portfolio management is supposed to align with strategy results in both gaps and contradictions. The gaps stem from a frequent absence of clarity in specifically how portfolio management is supposed to respond to strategic direction. Moreover, the contradictions are a result of portfolio management assuming responsibility for a number of aspects that more traditionally belong to the domain of strategy. The following paragraphs elaborate on both.

To expand on the gaps created by portfolio management, we need to explore how portfolio management presumes to align with strategy. From a product development perspective, this largely is expected to be the result of one of two different mechanisms: strategically allocating “buckets” of money to specific objectives, from which projects would then be defined, prioritized, and selected; or a strategic verification that the projects, once proposed, do in fact line up with stated strategy (Cooper et al., 1997a). The Standard for Portfolio Management (Project Management Institute, 2006) presumes the strategic plan culminates with a definition of strategic objectives, which in turn are used to define categories, in which projects are identified, prioritized, and initiated within the portfolio management process. In essence, the gaps of portfolio management result from the assumption that “strategic” is synonymous with “high level” in defining the direction and plans of the organization.

By contrast, the contradictions of portfolio management are a result of assuming that much of the actual identification of what the organization will do, the viability of those actions, and the determination of whether or not they should be undertaken, is managed within the context of portfolios. This stems from an assumption that organizational strategy is primarily a method of budget allocation, and that development of specific product goals develops at a business unit level (Cooper et al., 1997a). Analysis of goals, determination of potential value, and ultimate prioritization therefore are asserted to be a product of portfolio management rather than strategic management (Cooper et al., 1997b). Moreover, the confirmation of the categories within which projects will be evaluated, and the mechanisms by which the projects will be prioritized, are as much the responsibility of the portfolio manager as they are that of the executive team (Project Management Institute, 2006). In other words, strategy development represents the definition of where the organization should go in only the most general of terms, and the specifics are left in the province of portfolio management.

The Traditional Role of Strategic Management

Testing the validity of the claims of responsibility that are defined in portfolio management requires a revisiting of strategic management and the overall role it is supposed to play. Certainly, early discussions of strategic planning supported the idea that it primarily involved the planning of overall capital budgets, with more specific spending allocations being decided by divisional executives. Even at this stage, however, more integrated approaches were highlighted and recommended that involved identification, evaluation, and selection of alternatives to address organizational objectives (Mintzberg, 1967). Strategy is concerned to define explicit, purposeful decisions regarding alternatives and activities (Mintzberg, 1978). Strategy involves getting ones hands dirty digging for ideas, and require immersion in details while retaining the ability to extract overall meaning; the big picture is painted with little strokes. It represents the codification, elaboration, and conversion of strategies into comprehensible specifics (Mintzberg, 1994). In other words, the traditional definition of strategic planning allowed for the definition of specifics.

As with the domain of project management itself, there are a wide array of activities that are considered to be applicable under the label of “strategic planning.” This makes clarifying where strategic planning starts and stops itself more difficult, although it has been suggested that one of the inherent values of strategy is the provision of direction and control, implying a fairly detailed definition of the responses required to implement and realize a defined strategy (Langley, 1988). Where definition of the strategic planning process has been formalized and elaborated, they outline core stages of “identification,” “development,” and “selection” as the essential structures of strategy formulation (Mintzberg, Raisinghani, & Théorêt, 1976). In other words, strategy is not simply about the direction and overall objectives of an organization, but is a conscious exercising in searching for and designing solutions, and their subsequent evaluation and prioritization. This detailed analysis not only shapes the decisions, but also performs a socially cohesive role in combing the decisions of individuals into something that can be considered “organizational” in nature (Langley, 1991). This also reinforces that the level of detail and definition that are traditionally presumed to comprise strategic planning are necessary, integral, and should not be removed.

The Challenge of Strategy Today

While the traditional definitions of strategic management and strategy formulation strongly assert a role for strategy definition, including the design, evaluation, and selection of specific approaches and alternatives, the success of formalized strategic planning has nevertheless been inconsistent. In particular, the dynamic nature of business environments has called into question the ability of traditional strategic planning approaches to respond appropriately and formulate accurate and appropriate plans (Eisenhardt & Sull, 2001). This has resulted in calls to simplify and open up our understanding of strategy formulation to be more responsive, creating overall objectives, boundaries and rules while providing freedom and flexibility for divisional managers to respond appropriately (Eisenhardt, 2002). The result is a suggestion that strategy formulation needs to be less detailed and prescriptive than earlier descriptions have involved.

While this suggests an opening up and abstracting of strategy formulation, which would align with the assumptions of strategy inherent in the definition of portfolio management, other perspectives argue for the continued need for detail in appropriate strategy definition. Specifically, research highlighting the failures of strategic decisions identifies the need for greater consideration of stakeholders, a broadened search for alternative solutions, and particularly an increase in clarity and actions (Nutt, 2004). The result is a continued level of confusion as to both the definition of strategic management and an appropriate level of detail and definition.

Portfolios as a Substitute for Strategy

In the face of a lack of clarity around strategic planning (and often insufficient emphasis on strategy formulation in general), empirical observations suggest that a number of organizations have increasingly looked to portfolio management as a substitute for strategy. In particular, organizations whose divisional managers struggle with appropriate direction and resource allocation decisions—often in response to dysfunctional executive team decision making—look to portfolio management as a mechanism to formalize and prioritize the projects to be undertaken in their area. Given that two of the primary purposes of portfolio management are ensuring alignment and appropriate resource allocation, this could be argued to be a reasoned and reasonable response.

Challenges emerge, however, in the implementation of portfolio management without the context of an overarching strategic direction. Where portfolio management is implemented as a substitute for appropriate executive decision making, it is being asked to surmise strategy when little is defined, and to make resource allocation decisions without an appropriate appreciation of priority. While there is admittedly confusion between where strategic planning stops and portfolio management starts, portfolio management is not a substitute for strategy formulation. In all instances, it is defined as responding to the strategic direction of the organization—there is simply a question of what level the strategic direction should be appropriately defined.

Case Studies in Applying Portfolio Management

Variations in Portfolio Management Adoption

The following case studies highlight several recent implementations of portfolio management in organizations. Two case studies illustrate the challenge associated with implementing portfolio management in the absence of strategy, and the continued struggles to effectively apply a portfolio approach in a dysfunctional executive environment. A third organization demonstrates the challenge of implementing portfolio management in the face of effective and comprehensive strategic planning. The final case study offers a model for how strategic planning and portfolio management models can functionally and appropriately coexist in a single environment, and offers a basis for more clearly delineating the boundaries between strategy and portfolio.

Portfolios in Place of Strategy

The following two case studies highlight two public sector organizations that have recently undertaken implementations of portfolio management. Mid-level managers in both organizations have highlighted issues with the current processes of strategic and business planning, and report executive teams that fail to make clear, consistent, and effective decisions regarding direction, priorities, and required projects.

The first organization is a department within a provincial government. With several operating business units, each of which have historically enjoyed a great deal of autonomy and latitude, there is little alignment and overall coordination of strategy or projects. The executive team within the department is highly dysfunctional in its operations, and struggles to make cohesive decisions; there is no framework for how decisions are made, and competition for resources and a desire for continued autonomy discourages any inclination for collaboration. While the department publishes a formal business plan on an annual basis, the projects identified within the business plan are limited to those that will be visible to the public. The contents of the business plan are simply an aggregation of the individual initiatives that have been proposed by each business unit; initiatives that are truly departmental in nature have historically been few.

While the business units enjoy and desire to maintain a strong level of autonomy, central support organizations like purchasing and information technology—who provide services to all business units—struggle to respond to the overall workload demands in an appropriate manner. A failure to prioritize initiatives at the departmental level results in each business unit viewing their own projects as most important. As a result, support organizations face a myriad of demands, all of which have the professed priority of “high,” with no means to appropriately manage and respond to individual requests.

In response to these challenges, the director responsible for information technology sought to implement a portfolio management approach within the organization, with the express intent of being able to prioritize incoming project requests and appropriately manage the allocation and commitment of information technology resources. A working committee was established at a middle-management level to evaluate potential portfolio management models, define prioritization criteria for projects, and establish a process by which projects would be managed. After a period of several months, a model was developed and agreed to and presented to the executive committee of the department for their endorsement.

In preparation for the executive team presentation, a great deal of preparatory work was done to socialize members of the executive committee with the proposal, the rationale for it, and how it would work. This provided individual members time to explore the implications, ask questions, and raise concerns on a one-on-one basis rather than in front of their peers. This was intended to secure sufficient levels of support so that when presented to the executive committee as a whole, approval was more likely. Despite these preparations, however, the proposal failed to be adopted after four subsequent presentation attempts. Given the perceived advantages that the current state provided, where each business unit perceived itself as having unfettered access to IT resources for its projects, a mechanism that would seek to control and limit this was seen as too threatening. Attempting to compensate for effective decision making at one level by establishing an alternative prioritization mechanism at a lower level of the organization was seen as unacceptable; the one thing that the executive team could agree on (by failing to agree) was opting for the status quo.

The second case study involves a municipality, which endeavored to establish a portfolio management approach for the city as a whole. Like the first case study, the implementation was initiated by mid-level management in response to a perceived lack of direction and prioritization from more senior levels. Unlike the first case study, however, the proposed scope of the portfolio management approach would have encompassed all projects contemplated by the city.

The municipality in question did not have a formal strategic planning or business planning process in place. The closest approximation to a business plan was the annual fiscal plan, which defined the full operating budgets for the city on a department-by-department basis. Initiatives and projects were evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and could be proposed and approved at any point during the year; there was no uniform mechanism by which projects were identified or proposed, and no overall strategy against which proposals were evaluated. Once approved, full project funding was allocated, even for multi-year initiatives. While some projects were funded by grants from other levels of government, the taxation base of the municipality funded a significant number of projects, with taxation rates being adjusted in order to accommodate both the operational demands of the municipality and to provide the funding for approved projects.

After a change in organizational executive, a review of previous projects was conducted, to evaluate the performance of the organization in delivering on its commitments and to assess the value that the projects had delivered. This review identified that a significant number of projects that had been approved and funded had failed to appreciably move forward, and many more projects that had been completed continued to remain “open” in order to prevent any remaining funds from being released. It was also common practice for open projects that had delivered their scope to serve as “slush funds” to accommodate the delivery of additional scope within the project beyond what had been planned, or to offset cost overruns in other projects. Tens of millions of dollars remained unspent in reserves; implying tax increases in previous years to pay for approved projects could have been avoided or significantly reduced if projects were funded differently.

In response to this review, the administration proposed a number of changes to how projects would be initiated, evaluated, and approved, and how funding would be allocated. This proposal centered on the implementation of a portfolio management process by which proposed projects would be prioritized and evaluated, and which would be used to monitor project performance on an ongoing basis. Project funding would be changed to a year-by-year funding model, rather than funding the full project in advance, and project managers would be required to close their projects and release remaining funds within six months of delivering the scope of the project. Prioritization would be conducted by a subset of the administrative executive committee representing those departments with significant responsibilities for project delivery.

Despite the inherent reasonability of the proposals, and particularly a move to change the funding model for projects to increase accountability for spending project funds and avoiding stranding project capital, the identified approach did not proceed forward. Opposition to the proposals emerged from two fronts: managers of several project departments quietly lobbied for the status quo, preferring to retain direct control of project funds while avoiding scrutiny of how these funds were spent. Elected officials on council responded favorably to these overtures, in part because managers cultivated close relationships with individual councilors in intervening years and as a result enjoyed significant direct influence outside of that of the new administration chief executive. Politicians were also reluctant to give up direct control over the approval of individual projects, which they viewed as a means of demonstrating their role and impact to the electorate, particularly during electoral cycles.

Both case studies highlight the challenges of implementing a portfolio management approach at an administrative level, in the absence of a defined strategic planning or business planning and without the support of the executive levels of the organization. While portfolio management does provide the means to ensure alignment and effective allocation of resources, it cannot do so in a vacuum. There must be a strategic direction it can align to, and there must be political support for its adoption. Trying to implement portfolio as a means of forcing executives to improve their decision making (or to wrest control of decision making from them) is likely to be opposed, sometimes quite strongly.

Strategy in Place of Portfolios

The third case study organization is also a municipality, but one that has developed a strong approach to strategic planning. While early planning efforts typically focused on the creation of a fiscal plan (common with many other municipalities including the previous case study), this organization began the implementation of a comprehensive approach to strategic and business planning. Over a period of three years, this organization established a formal means of defining strategic direction that coordinates the definition of all corporate, departmental, and capital projects, as well as all changes to the operational delivery of municipal services.

The current process involves the definition of a three-year strategic plan, which is tied to the elected term of council. At the beginning of each council term, a new strategic plan is developed, and in subsequent years, it is reviewed with council to ensure relevance. Updates are made as appropriate. In response to the strategic direction of council, the senior executive committee identifies initiatives at a corporate level that are designed to respond to the contents of the strategic plan. In addition, each department identifies and proposes departmental initiatives to support the continued development, refinement, and improvement of its services, as well as requirements for new capital investments.

On an annual basis, the senior executive committee reviews the prioritization criteria that are employed to evaluate individual initiatives and proposed operational services changes, in order to ensure that they are responsive to council's strategic direction and define the attributes that should be present in priority initiatives. The senior executive team prioritizes each corporate and departmental initiative, and a separate capital project committee reviews and prioritizes the proposed capital initiatives for the municipality. After prioritization, a determination of a cut-off for each category of projects is ascertained based upon available funding and resources to determine the initiatives that will be proposed to council. The full business plan, including corporate and departmental plans and the corresponding fiscal budget, is presented to council for its review and approval. While council does make some adjustments in ranking and funding of initiatives at this time, the majority of administration recommendations in the business plan are adopted as presented.

The success of the strategic and business planning process has provided the municipality with a significant improvement in clarity. Organizational priorities are clearly defined and the strategic direction of the organization is broadly understood. In alignment with expectations for an effective strategic planning process, there is a strong component of search for available options, solution evaluation, and prioritization embedded within the overall planning process. The adoption of a prioritization process has resulted in the organization being clear about its capacity and commitments, and therefore not only the initiatives that will be pursued but also identification of what work will not be taken on. Initiatives that are not approved are deferred to future years for consideration.

Given the scope and comprehensiveness of planning in this municipality, a question is raised about what role portfolio management could possibly take. There are already robust processes in place for the identification, evaluation, and prioritization of individual initiatives in response to the defined strategic direction of the organization. Ongoing monitoring of project delivery is integrated into the operations of the organization in tandem with monitoring of the fiscal plan, and the senior executive committee reviews progress for all projects on a quarterly basis. Given the comprehensiveness of strategy definition and the clarity of decision making, the implementation of a portfolio management approach—which has been considered and subsequently rejected— would be largely redundant.

Embracing Portfolios and Strategy

The final case study is a private sector organization that has implemented both a process of strategic planning and a framework for portfolio management. The organization, a financial institution, has had a process for strategic planning in place for many years. This has evolved over time as the executive committee of the organization has matured, and the organization itself has improved on its ability to deliver on strategic objectives. The strategic plan is developed by the board of directors in collaboration with the executive committee, and is reviewed on an annual basis by both groups in a joint retreat. Refreshes of the strategic plan typically occur every five years, but this can be adjusted in times of environmental uncertainty or significant strategic activity (such as large-scale mergers or acquisitions).

The strategic planning process employs a typical structure that aligns well with defined models in the literature. The board and executive reviews the organization's mission and vision, undertakes a scan of their internal and external environment, and reviews their performance in the delivery of previous plans. The strategic plan formulates the overarching strategic goals, objectives, and strategies that the organization is expected to deliver upon. In addition, the identified strategies are expanded upon with the identification of specific corporate initiatives, which are considered “strategic” in nature, and which continue to be subject to board oversight on an ongoing basis. Each corporate initiative is assigned to an organizational business unit, which assumes lead responsibility for the delivery of the corporate initiative.

The organization has also adopted a formal process of portfolio management, which evolved from its definition of project management. Portfolios are defined at a business unit level, and the senior vice president responsible for the corresponding business unit owns each portfolio. The portfolios contain the corporate initiatives that have been assigned to that business unit, and which the business unit is responsible for delivering, as well as business unit initiatives. Initiatives at the business unit level are formulated by departments and sections within the business unit, and are proposed for consideration as part of the annual planning process. For each proposed initiative, a business case is prepared prior to consideration by the business unit executive team.

All corporate initiatives within each portfolio are deemed “prioritized” when they are allocated by the board and executive committee. All business unit initiatives are prioritized within the business unit, based upon overall criteria that have been defined organizationally. In particular, business unit projects must be funded by the budgets of the business unit, and must have a positive return on investment, with payback delivered in a period of no more than six months. If a business unit seeks to proceed with an initiative that does not meet these criteria, then it must be proposed and adopted as a corporate initiative within the overall strategic planning process. Once initiated, individual initiatives are also managed in accordance with the organization's project management process, which defines the standard process, deliverables, and templates to which all projects must adhere.

In the context of this organization, the strategic plan defines and prioritizes the corporate initiatives that are to be undertaken. It also defines the broad strategic objectives and goals, and the approval parameters, in which business units subsequently identify, evaluate, and prioritize their own initiatives. The strategic planning process in this way honors both the traditional expectations for a strategic planning process, and aligns with the expectations for portfolio management. Portfolio management represents the business planning process at a business unit level, and supports not only the identification and initiation of projects but also provides an on-going process for monitoring and benefits realization. Both structures have been defined in such a way that they recognize and acknowledge the other and respect the boundaries of each process, while avoiding any unnecessary duplication of effort or confusion around authorities and responsibilities.


The case studies that have been discussed identify a number of instances where portfolio management approaches have failed to be adopted, or have been of questionable value. As well, they highlight one instance where the implementation has not only been successful, but has done so within the context of an existing strategic planning process. This highlights a number of very real considerations that are essential to assess when considering the relevance of portfolio management:

  • Portfolio management implementations are unlikely to be successful in the absence of already established and effective means of assessing strategy and prioritizing initiatives. Where there is not already an effective means of governance and decision making in place, portfolio management is not going to be successful in introducing one.
  • While there are perceptual overlaps between strategic planning and portfolio management, they can coexist within the same organization and serve to provide a complementary role. This requires being clear about the intent of each, and proactively identifying where the points of overlap occur.
  • The solution to creating space for portfolio management is not to ‘dial back’ or de-emphasize the focus on strategic planning and strategy formulation. The objective is not to leave strategy at a high level, in order to leave definition of actions and alternatives to portfolio management. Instead, portfolio management needs to respect the role of strategic management in providing detailed direction for the organization. Portfolio management cannot operate in the absence of strategy, nor can it supplant it.
  • In the face of a well-functioning strategic management system, the role and value of portfolio management as a subsequent level of governance and control may be questionable. Accepting that projects are the means by which strategy is implemented, when strategic management provides a framework that clearly defines, prioritizes and monitors the delivery of projects on its own, portfolio management largely becomes redundant.
  • Portfolio management can potentially support the business planning at a departmental and business unit level, in response to a well-designed and functioning approach to strategic planning. While needing to accept any strategically initiated projects as given, it provides the ability for individual business units to objectively evaluate their initiatives in support of the larger organizational strategy.

More than anything, the case studies illustrate the critical importance of an effective and functioning executive team, and an organization that supports and embraces strategic management. In the absence of these, bottom-up attempts to establish effective decision making—through portfolio management or another means—are likely to be unsuccessful. In the face of them being present, portfolio management may not even be required. For a large, complex organization with a decentralized model of decision making, however, strategic management and portfolio management can complement each other very well.


Cooper, R. G., Edgett, S. J., & Kleinschmidt, E. J. (1997a). Portfolio management in new product development: Lessons from the leaders - II. Research Technology Management, 40(6), 43–52.

Cooper, R. G., Edgett, S. J., & Kleinschmidt, E. J. (1997b). Portfolio management in new product development: Lessons from the leaders - I. Research Technology Management, 40(5), 16–28.

Crawford, L., Hobbs, B., & Turner, J. R. (2006). Aligning capability with strategy: Categorizing projects to do the right projects and to do them right. Project Management Journal, 37(2), 38–50.

Eisenhardt, K. M. (2002). Has strategy changed? MIT Sloan Management Review, 43(2), 88–91.

Eisenhardt, K. M., & Sull, D. N. (2001). Strategy as simple rules. Harvard Business Review, 79(1), 106–116.

Langley, A. (1988). The roles of formal strategic planning. Long Range Planning, 21(3), 40–50.

Langley, A. (1991). Formal analysis and strategic decision making. Omega: International Journal of Management Science, 19(2–3), 79–99.

Mintzberg, H. (1967). The science of strategy making. IMR; Industrial Management Review (pre-1986), 8(2), 71.

Mintzberg, H. (1978). Patterns in strategy formation. Management Science, 24(9), 934–948.

Mintzberg, H. (1994). The fall and rise of strategic planning. Harvard Business Review, 72(1), 107–114.

Mintzberg, H., Raisinghani, D., & Théorêt, A. (1976). The structure of ‘unstructured’ decision processes. Administrative Science Quarterly, 21(2), 246–275.

Nutt, P. C. (2004). Expanding the search for alternatives during strategic decision-making. The Academy of Management Executive, 18(4), 13–28.

Pedersen, K., & Nielsen, J. A. (2011). Managing uncertainty and conflict in IT project portfolio management. Journal of Information Technology Case & Application Research, 13(4), 51–83.

Project Management Institute. (2006). The standard for portfolio management. Newtown Square, Pennsylvania: Project Management Institute.

Williams, T., & Samset, K. (2010). Issues in front-end decision making on projects. Project Management Journal, 41(2), 38–49.



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