Course Number:

Decision Science 6259 

Course Title:

Project Portfolio Management




Management of an organization’s portfolio of projects for the overall welfare and success of the enterprise. Alignment of projects with an organization’s strategy and goals and consistency with values and culture.  Whereas most project management courses focus on ‘doing things right’, project portfolio management focuses on ‘doing the right things’.



Dr. Ernest Forman.  Funger 404. 202-994-6206.


Office Hours:

By Appointment: See



Executive Decision Making


Bible, Michael J, and Bivins, Susan S, Mastering Project Portfolio Management: A Systems Approach to Achieving Strategic Objectives
Available at Amazon or from Publisher at a slight discount:

Levine, Harvey A. Project Portfolio Management: A Practical Guide to Selecting Projects, Managing Portfolios, and Maximizing Benefits  2005, Josey-Boss, San Francisco
Available at Amazon

If purchasing both is a financial strain, you can get by with only purchasing one (I recommend the Bible/Bivins book)as I will cover most of the pertinent material in class.


Supplemental Textbook:

Forman, Ernest H., and Selly, Mary Ann,  Decision By Objectives, World Scientific Press, 2001, or download from
Decision By Objectives Chapters


Additional Resources



Course Objectives:

You will learn about:

The role of governance in PPM

Designing projects to address an organization’s strategic objectives

Prioritizing strategic objectives

Evaluating project alignment and anticipated benefits

Determining an optimum combination of projects

Evaluating alternative portfolios given different scenarios

Measuring the performance of individual projects

Synthesizing individual project performance into measures of portfolio performance at various levels within the organization

Method of Instruction:

Lectures, projects, student presentations.  Students will learn by applying concepts and theory to cases and/or real projects.


Hypothetical/Real/HybridPortfolio Project: 50%
Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam 30%

+ points for Participation if on borderline of letter grade


See above but note that the percentages are approximate, may be adjusted to emphasize aspects of the course students perform better.



Session 1


Introduction and Overview

Concepts, Theory, Practice

Common Practices, ‘Best’ Practices’, Ideal Practices

Project Portfolio Management vs. Project Management

Making the Case for Project Portfolio Management




B&B: Preface; Chapter 1; (2 optional)
Levine: Chapters 10.5, 5.1, 3.1, 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.3, 2.4

Begin thinking about PPM Project; Real or Hypothetical




Articulating an Organization’s and Business Unit’s Strategies.

Identifying Objectives that support the strategy.
Begin -- Identifying/Designing Projects and Creating Business Cases


B&B: Chapter 3

Levine Chapters 2.5, 3.3, 3.5

Session 2


Identifying/designing projects that contribute to the organization’s objectives

Identifying/Designing Projects and Creating Business Cases
Strategic Buckets

Cost Estimation

GAO cost estimation guide (

Risk Estimation/Risk Evaluation

WBS for Risks

Theory and Practice for estimating risks

Risk Mitigation Strategies and Alternatives


B&B: Chapters 5, 6, Ch. 6 appendix B

Levine Chapters 2.5, 3.2, 3.5



Evaluating Alternative Project Designs

Selecting/justifying one or a set of possible designs (activity level)

  Different feature sets
Different benefits (discuss NPV and IRR)

  Different costs

  Different Risk Mitigation Strategies and Levels

  Different Schedules

Criteria – Musts – Prequalification and filtering


Sessions 3          


Common/Typical and ‘Best’ Practices


Inventorying the Current Portfolio

Governance and Roles




Determining the Value of a Project

Selecting Projects for the Portfolio


Ideal Practices


Prioritizing Objectives Using AHP/Expert Choice Comparion


B&B Ch 3,4

Levine Chapters 2.1, 3.5,,4.2, 4.3, 7.2

Decision by Objectives Chapters 1-4

Session 4


Alignment and Evaluation of Anticipated Project Contributions to Objectives

Absolute Measurement
Ratings, Utility Curves, Step Functions
Expert Choice Comparion
Pairwise Comparisons and Linking Clusters


B&B:Chapters 7

Levine Chapters 4.1

Session 5


 Identifying an Optimum Portfolio

Synthesis; Identifying Constraints; Optimization, Communication – Determining “Optimum” Project Portfolio

Benefits (aligned)


Project Risks

Rough guess

Associated risk model

Risk analysis of events for one or more projects

Constraints for Balance and Coverage

Creating Specialized Custom Constraints

Time Periods/Roadmaps

Scheduling Projects by Time Period



B&B  Preface; Ch 8,9

Levine Chapters 2.2, 4.4, 9.3

Sessions 6


Defining alternative scenarios and corresponding optimal portfolios

Selecting the most preferred optimal portfolio


Additional Topics

Infeasibilities, Relevant Constraints

Low Cost Projects Tend to Get Funded



Session 7


Project and Portfolio Performance

Project Presentations





PPM Project Schedule

Organization background, mission/vision/strategic objectives, assumptions –  Discuss/Due Weeks 1/2


Identifying/designing projects that contribute to organizational objectives - Discuss/Due Weeks  2/3

     Criteria – musts, prequalification

Business Cases -- Discuss/Due Weeks 2/3

    Cost estimation

     Risk estimation

     Risk mitigation strategies

     Creating business cases

Evaluating alternative project approaches
Choosing Best Design (for 1 project) - 
Discuss/Due Weeks 2/3


Governance and Roles definitions.  Refining and Prioritizing Objectives Hierarchy - Discuss/Due Weeks 3/4


Identifying alignment (which projects contribute to which objectives) Discuss/Due Weeks 4/5

Measuring Anticipated Project Benefits Discuss/Due Weeks 4/5


Identifying an 'Optimal' Portfolio of Projects Discuss/Due Weeks 5/6

Identifying additional resource constraints; Insuring balance and coverage

Discounting anticipated benefits by project risk -- Discuss/Due Weeks 5/6
Defining Time Periods, Resource Requirements and Constraints -- Discuss/Due Weeks 5/6



Defining alternative scenarios and corresponding optimal portfolios Discuss/Due Weeks 6/7

     Selecting the most preferred optimal portfolio 


Measuring Project Performance and Portfolio Performance Discuss/Due (optional) Weeks 7

    Synthesizing anticipated benefits with actual performance

     Periodic Review and Revision (Iteration -- considering existing as well as new projects)


PowerPoint Presentation Due Week 7

Paper Due Week 7


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