What do Portfolio Managers Do?


What are the major responsibilities of a portfolio manager? That’s the question that Jennifer Bridges, PMP, asks and answers in this short project management tutorial video.

Here’s a shot of the whiteboard for your reference?

learn what a portfolio manager does

In Review: What Are the Main Portfolio Manager Responsibilities?

Before answering the question of what a portfolio manager does, Jennifer first defined what a portfolio is. Generically, a portfolio is collection of several different things. In the context of business, portfolios can be a group of programs or projects, or even groups of other portfolios, with their own programs and projects within.

In larger organizations, with highly structured vertical operations, portfolios can be managed by defined teams and formal “portfolio managers” or PMOs within the organization. In smaller organizations, there might not be a defined title or role of “portfolio manager,” but there very well may be senior managers who are handling multiple projects all under a particular strategic initiative or industry vertical or product line. 

So portfolio management is an important way to implement strategic initiatives, and that is part of what a portfolio manager does. But that’s not all.

Portfolio Managers also:

  • manage one or more portfolios (groups of projects or programs);
  • align programs, projects and operations to strategic objectives; and
  • measure, rank and prioritize programs and projects. (These are obviously roles usually filled on the executive level.)

Why does this matter? Because a portfolio manager delivers on expected value. According to the 2012 Pulse of the Profession, a research paper by the Project Management Institute (PMI), 62% of products meet or exceed ROI.

Pro-Tip: It’s important for portfolio managers or teams managing multiple projects to set up the tools that provide visibility across all projects. Watch Jennifer Bridges, PMP, explore key tools for portfolio managers and how to select the right tools for your organization. 

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Today we’re talking about what portfolio project managers do. We’re also going to talk about why this matters.

But first of all, let’s look at a portfolio. A portfolio is a collection of several different things, including other portfolios. Some people call them sub-portfolios that also have programs and projects. The portfolio can also include individual projects as well as programs. These programs can include other sub-programs, projects and even operational activities that are all related to this portfolio.

The portfolio is managed as a group and it’s aligned to the business strategy of the company. All of these are measured, ranked and prioritized. Portfolio management is important because it’s the most effective way to implement these business strategies. As we’ve talked about before in some of our other whiteboard sessions, the strategic objectives help set the programs and the projects.

That’s part of what these portfolio managers do. They manage one or more portfolios and they are the ones who work with different financial algorithms and financial models to align the programs, projects and even these operational activities to the strategic objectives. They work with different programs and dashboards to measure, rank and prioritize these.

They are focused on a bird’s eye view of everything within this portfolio. They’re worried about the high level. They’re not in the weeds. Ideally within the organization there are project managers and program managers managing the different components in these portfolios that report into the portfolio manager.

Why does this matter? By having a portfolio manager practicing good portfolio management, it helps to ensure that the right work is done in an organization. Likewise, by having a project manager practicing good project management ensures the work is done right. Project Management Institute conducted a study in 2012 that documents that 62% of products meet or exceed their return on investment in a portfolio by having portfolio management.

So who are the people who perform this portfolio manager role? It’s typically performed by executives or senior level practitioners in an organization, because they’re focusing on the business strategy of the organization.

As you can see, the portfolio manager has a critical role in the organization. So if you need a tool that can help you manage your portfolio, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager.com.

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