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April 24, 2024

Project Portfolio Management in – you can do it (better)

Gantt Portfolio-level Management Resource Management Scope
Jerzy Żurawiecki Content Specialist @BigPicture

A lot of teams don’t use to manage portfolios of projects effectively, even though comprehensive Project Portfolio Management (PPM) is incredibly beneficial.

PPM is especially valuable to organizations that want to better understand their initiatives in a broader context. Instead of looking at a single project’s performance, PPM software enables you to evaluate all projects together and see how each performs.

But to do that, you need the right software. Find out how you can use for PPM and how BigPicture PPM for can simplify the management of even the most complex portfolios.

What’s the difference between portfolio management, program management, and project management?

The three terms are related but not the same. So let’s break them down.

Project management covers all the activities, skills, tools, and techniques needed to deliver a project according to the requirements. It focuses on a single project. There’s one person who’s ultimately responsible for the project’s success or failure — the project manager.

But, most businesses manage multiple projects at the same time. And some projects are pieces of a larger puzzle. That’s when program management comes into play.

Program management is a set of activities, skills, and principles needed to achieve program objectives that would be impossible to achieve by managing each project individually.

Programs consist of multiple related projects. Each project might have its own manager, but the person who oversees them all is a program manager.

A program can be quite extensive — with a lot of projects and a long duration. But there’s a higher level than that. It’s called a portfolio.

Portfolio management is the process of selecting, planning, executing, and monitoring a collection of projects and programs that align with your organizational strategy and objectives.

You gather all relevant projects and programs under one umbrella and manage them together. Project and program managers still oversee their initiatives, but portfolio managers get a high-level view of what’s happening across the projects and programs.

Usually, a portfolio manager is responsible for the performance of the portfolios across an organization.

It’s important to note that managing a portfolio isn’t just a bundle of projects and programs. The true value of a portfolio lies in its alignment with your strategic objectives. Portfolio management makes it possible for you to make more focused decisions and clearly see what contributes to your objectives (and how).

Why should you use Project Portfolio Management software?

If your organization manages lots of projects in, you have a lot of data to process.

Wouldn’t things work better if all that data were organized and findable? PPM software helps you put things in order, and it offers plenty of other benefits, too.

Better visibility of initiatives

Each project and program contributes to the delivery of strategic objectives (or at least, it should). But when the business evaluates them separately, it’s difficult to see how each project and program fits into the bigger picture.

Managing portfolios gives organizations a broader view of the programs and projects managed in the organization. It helps stakeholders see which projects and programs underperform, and gives managers the insight they need to make informed decisions.

Strategic alignment

Whether you’re managing a small project or an intricate portfolio, aligning your efforts to business objectives is essential.

Portfolio management requires strategy. Managers consider all the programs and projects and make decisions regarding the selection, prioritization, and execution. They aim to dedicate company resources to the most valuable initiatives — the ones that serve organizational objectives.

More visibility into resource utilization

Every business has multiple projects going on at any given time. But they have a finite amount of budget and people to deliver all that work. So it’s up to the managers to assign work and allocate enough budget for each project.

Without a portfolio-based approach, it’s difficult to make these decisions across the entire business. Every manager will try to make do with what they have. But it’s hard to know which call is the right one when you don’t have deep visibility into your available resources (human or financial).

With PPM software, portfolio managers see who does what and what gets spent (and where). And most importantly, they see how these efforts and expenses impact the whole organization.

How does help manage portfolios of projects?

While most people think of as project management software, you can also use it to gather cross-project data.

If you’re a Pro or Enterprise user of, you can use a portfolio solution consisting of two types of boards:

  • A Project board contains all the details of a single project. That can include the item structure and columns like assignees, timeline, dependencies, etc. Managers use it to track and modify the granular details of their projects.
  • A Portfolio board is an overview of multiple low-level boards. Instead of displaying every detail of each project, this board gathers and aggregates data from connected Project boards. That’s why organizations use a Portfolio board to manage programs or portfolios.
A portfolio board in


On the one hand, having two types of boards makes sense. One is for project managers, the other is for program or portfolio managers. But this separation also means that you need to toggle between boards to get deeper insights and make granular changes or identify problems.

Last but not least, Portfolio boards don’t display cross-project dependencies.

Keep in mind that the Pro plan limits how many portfolios and connected boards you can use. For example, you can only run 20 portfolios at a given time. And you can only connect 20 boards to each portfolio. For more complex organizations, that may not be enough.

BigPicture PPM for extends your portfolio management capabilities

If you need more out of your project portfolio management software, add BigPicture PPM for to your app stack.

BigPicture PPM is a purpose-built solution developed with big companies in mind. With up to 80,000 items in each program or project and virtually unlimited boards in a portfolio, BigPicture supports management across the whole enterprise, regardless of scale. The app seamlessly integrates with, so all the data flows smoothly to and from BigPicture — without disrupting your work.

Here’s how BigPicture PPM can elevate your portfolio management in

Data visualization and aggregation

The Appfire app can serve as your command center for Because there are no limits on the number of boards you can connect, your organization can use BigPicture PPM to centralize information across the business.

The Gantt module shows an advanced structure of all your work items — boards, groups, items, and subitems. There’s also a cross-project timeline that neatly visualizes the structure. Most importantly, the data is aggregated at each granularity level. So you clearly understand the progress of each program and project in the portfolio.

An example of a portfolio view in BigPicture's Gantt module.
Get a structured view of the whole portfolio in BigPicture.


Having quick and detailed access to the entire scope is especially useful for program management. You can easily see a full range of information about related projects without having to jump between boards. You can assess the program as a whole and its individual elements at the same time.

Making changes is fast and easy using in-line editing and drag-and-drop. You can modify the contents of task bars or columns without leaving the Gantt module. As a result, you can immediately see how the changes affect the big picture of your initiative.

Baselines visualize the original estimate of your initiatives, so you can track the discrepancies between the plan and execution of your program, project, or task.

Managing allocations, availability, and skills of everyone

Keeping track of everyone assigned to every project is easier when you have all the data in one place. That’s exactly what BigPicture can do for the entire portfolio. Our Resources module allows you to monitor capacity and distribute workload across the whole organization.

The BigPicture PPM app enables you to track all your team members’ skills, so you can find the right people for your projects.

But BigPicture takes it a step further. If you need to reassign a task, the app will suggest other members or teams with matching skills and enough availability to take on the work. We call it “Find the perfect match.” Making allocation decisions has never been easier.

Find the perfect match feature in BigPicture PPM for
Get suggestions for assignee replacements based on skills and availability in BigPicture PPM for

Cross-board dependencies

Some of your projects or programs might have tasks connected across the portfolio. Seeing these connections clearly is vital for progress tracking and everyday management. With BigPicture PPM, you can map and visualize dependencies between tasks, no matter where they are in your portfolio.

BigPicture has two types of dependencies:

  • Soft: used to mark relationships between tasks that don’t affect their dates.
  • Strong: used to mark relationships between dependencies that have a scheduling impact. If you reschedule one of the dependent tasks, the other will move accordingly.
Cross-project dependencies in BigPicture PPM for
See all the dependencies for your project, program, or portfolio on a timeline.


You can use drag and drop to quickly draw and modify the Gantt module’s dependencies. In terms of visibility, you can see the details of your dependency in the Item view.


Do you manage a lot of related projects and/or programs? Combining them into portfolios will help you manage them all more efficiently, and make it easier to align your work with strategic objectives.

Project Portfolio Management in is doable, but other, more comprehensive apps in the marketplace better suit this purpose. For example, a dedicated app like BigPicture adds powerful Project Portfolio Management capabilities that can take your PPM to the next level.

Visualize, structure, and aggregate entire portfolios of projects and programs, manage workload comprehensively, and see cross-board dependencies — all in one place.