As part of the Project Management in Life Sciences article research we asked PM professionals and their managers to define the terms Project, Program and Portfolio. Over 40 interviews have been conducted to date in the Greater Boston Area.
The definitions vary between well established and start up companies. Most of the companies surveyed use PMI PMBOK definitions as a base when describing each of the terms.
In general, a project has a defined start and end date, temporary team, defined deliverables, and a single goal. The word “tactical” is mentioned when discussing Project Managers, as in focused solely on execution. An example of a project – a clinical trial, one indication for the product, or completing a regulatory filing. There are many more examples.
Programs are described as more strategic in nature and may have an end date but usually continue. Some companies use Project and Program interchangeably. Some use the PMBOK definition and some look at program as a collection of projects. In a majority of cases, program equates to product/asset (drug or promising compound). Products have a life-cycle (PDLC). Program Managers may be assigned to one phase of the Product Development Life Cycle (PDLC) or in some cases follow the product through the entire life-cycle, though a majority hand off control to a commercial program management team for launch and pick it back up in late stage development.
Portfolio differs by size of company and structure. Companies without a product on the market will generally not think in portfolio terms yet. The Executive Team is capable of making product decisions. Once multiple products go to market and there are more in the pipeline, they begin to add more formal process around portfolio management. Larger more established companies have a PMO or Portfolio Group. The responsibilities of these groups varies by company but in many cases will be responsible to work with the Program and Project Managers to data about their programs and present it to the Executive Team. In many cases, portfolios are a collection of programs in a therapeutic area (drug development). This differs for Biotech companies.
This data is part of a study being conducted for @PMIMassBay on the adoption of Project Management in the Life Sciences industry. The study is being conducted as part of the #PM2020 program, which is focused on making industry data available to the PM and BA community as part of Professional Development programming. All data is being presented in summary form and no names of participants are companies will be released. A formal report will be released in the Summer 2017 and presented to our membership via programs and online as an article. Life Sciences is the pilot and will be followed by additional studies being conducted by @PMIMassBay member volunteers. To learn more about this program or how to participate, please contact John Todd, VP Professional Development PMI MassBay at email@example.com.
John Todd volunteers on the BOD for @PMI MassBay and leads Professional Development for the chapter. @PMIMassBay serves Eastern Massachusetts and has over 3,000 members. @PMI MassBay provides over 13 events per month, including local roundtables, outreach groups, chapter meetings, Professional Development Days, Career Advancement Clinics and Networking events. Check us out today at pmimassbay.org.