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Key Roles and Responsibilities in Project Portfolio Management
By Miley W. Merkhofer

This article identifies key participants as well as their role and responsibilities in Project Portfolio Management.

  • Business Unit/Sponsor

    Business Units/Sponsors are organizational components that requests or consumes a portion of the budget for the purpose of conducting projects.

    Responsibilities in Project Portfolio Management

    Each business unit identifies projects, assists project managers in constructing business cases for justifying projects, and champions its projects and project portfolio.

    The business unit is responsible for providing quality assurance for data related to its projects.

  • Project Manager

    The project manager is an individual with overall responsibility for successful planning and execution of a project.

    Responsibilities in Project Portfolio Management

    Project managers work closely with business units/sponsors to provide good data for the portfolio management process. Project managers are responsible for ensuring that approved projects perform according to plan.

  • Project Portfolio Manager

    The Project Portfolio Manager is a manager with responsibility for the project portfolio. Usually supported by a team. Team may be composed of directors of the business areas.

    Responsibilities in Project Portfolio Management

    The project portfolio manager establishes the rules, and procedures for making portfolio decisions. The portfolio manager analyzes projects and portfolios proposed by business units and recommends the overall project portfolio.

  • Executive Team

    The executive team consists of select corporate officers who guide and provide inputs to the project portfolio management process.

    Responsibilities in Project Portfolio Management

    The executive team provides policy inputs for the process, including weights for trading off different types of project benefits. The team sets targets, approves the budget and project portfolios, and ensures that portfolio decisions are enforced.

Miley W. (Lee) Merkhofer, Ph.D., is an author and practitioner in the field of decision analysis who specializes in assisting organizations in implementing project portfolio management. He has served on advisory panels for several government agencies and has received grants and research awards for work in the area. Lee is an editor of the journal Decision Analysis.

Prior to becoming an independent consultant, Lee was a Partner of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, where he founded that organization’s capital allocation and project prioritization business practice. Lee is a founding partner of Folio Technologies LLC, a provider of web-based, project portfolio management software.

Lee received his Ph.D. in engineering economic systems from Stanford University. He is the author of the book Decision Science and Social Risk Management and co-author of the book Risk Assessment Methods..

Additional papers on project portfolio management can be found on Lee’s website, E-mail:

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