Single Project Level Management vs Portfolio Management


Single project level management and Portfolio Management are closely interlinked factors in the business operation milieu. The relationship between the two revelries can be conceptualized at a reasonably general level as portrayed in the back ground information garnered in this study. The two factors stage a rapport where a set of underlying factors create an impact on a sequence of intermediary indicators. The pointers in turn determine the ultimate outcomes in terms of excellence in business management. Project portfolio per se entombs more than running manifold projects. It plays other key role like ensuring that all the projects are ran skillfully and are bound for the ultimate good of the organization.

Dubai Custom is a massive governmental regulatory body which undertakes myriad projects simultaneously. This massively ramified organization has got many projects taking place at the same time; all these projects are sponsored and headed by the portfolio management which mans the way the various competing projects can share resources equivocally. In order for any project to succeed the management must have the required resources, the valid working platforms and the numerous components necessary to enhance success in each individual project.

The middle level managers have the mandate of overseeing the activities necessary to augment the project development process. In order for the organization to attain productivity the multi-part project level which coordinates and oversees all the single projects must be interfaced with the copious single-projects through the middle level managers so as to create a link through which the ultimate organizational goals are achieved.

Every facet of the portfolio projects must be assessed and aligned to business values and it must therefore gravitate towards the formulated strategies. The project managers have the obligation of ensuring that the projects drift towards the predetermined organizational goals (Harden 45). Moreover, they should have all the necessary information concerning the single-projects on their fingertips in order to keep the portfolio management clued-up. When single level project managers play their role of directing and overseeing the evolution of the project under way they ease the job for the portfolio management acquitting them with the detailed information on what is happening and what needs to be done in order for the project success to be achieved.

In order for management portfolio to remain at par with management roles and activities, it must be designed in such a way to enhance achievement of the stipulated business objectives (Oliver 34). By directing each individual venture fittingly the management ascertains that the organizational objectives are executed accurately. Moreover, when all projects in a business are directed successfully there is a surety of achieving the succinct expected results.

Organizational Overview

Dubai Customs

Dubai Customs is a governmental agency which aids in easing free trade at the same time helping to seal all the borders of Dubai to avoid illegal immigrants. The corporate goals of this organization are to provide administration through ground-breaking and practical service provision to the potential clients. In the supply chain the body enhances trade and movement of commodities and people from one locality to another. The body offers ramified services like goods and people transport, customs checks, validation of immigrant entry, securing the borders and many more(Maroney 55).

For many years now Dubai Customs has been involved in facilitating fair trade exercises. There are other sub-projects in the Dubai Custom body which help to ensure that traders comply with the exerted custom laws implemented by the government. Dubai Customs owes accountability to the government and its mandate extends to general citizens and businesses and other international trade organizations like world Trade Organization (WTO). The custom body ensures that traders and business people adhere to the worldwide trade conventions and accord. This body works the international network of Customs authorities (

Dubai Customs partners with the UAE government in the governmental development initiatives. The portfolio managers in the organization take a leading role in establishing a working rapport with the potential clients and the business partners. The middle level management in the organization ensures that the clients get consistent good services which conform to the regulations of the organization. The government entity ensures that the potential customers are furnished with the necessary information so that they can undertake their business deals in conformity to the regulatory statutes.

Dubai Customs has fervently sought to blend computer aided technology in their business transactions. Advance in technology has aided to bolster their transaction speed, their ability to remain competitive in the global arena. E-Governance schemes and computer aided information networks have been merged in their transactions and have helped the organization to minimize risk and improve customer care services. The middle level management team has gone through rigorous training programs in order to keep pace with the modern times. Both the portfolio managers and the middle level managers have aided Dubai Customs to set a gold standard in typical in undertaking the myriad Customs processing activities in a flawless, competent and cost effective style.

Research Background


In this section, the researcher gives a vivid description to justify the methods chosen to garner information concerning the portfolio management in the Dubai Customs and how it complements with the middle level management to ensure that the projects implemented are executed perfectly within the assigned time frame.

Research Strategy

For the purposes of gathering valid and sufficient information necessary for this research to be conduced the researcher blended both the qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. This in researching terms is termed as triangulation and it involves use of myriad data collection methods within one study so that they can complement each other hence affording the researcher credible information which can be relied on for decision making.

In order to construe valid data in this study, the researcher elicited innumerable views from different perspectives namely, senior/portfolio managers and middle level or project managers Further, the researcher used many data collection methods and combined two approaches namely quantitative and qualitative approaches to ensure that there was veracity in the final results obtained through the study. Whilst, the portfolio managers may feel like they are responsible for the success of projects, the project managers are keenly aware of the fact that the projects can only succeed when there is a combined effort and an established working rapport between the portfolio and the project managers.

The researcher eliminated biases in the research process by collecting information from two ramified groups this helped in triangulating the data collected and enhanced annulment of research eliminations which could have been garnered by one-sided approach to the research (Mendall 11). The numerous sources of information used helped to cross check the results deduced from all the interviewed parties to ensure that the findings were more dependable

Research objectives

There are four major objectives that were utilized to congregate information on how the portfolio management complements project managers in the information field to bolster acquisition of the agency’s goals.

  1. To establish how the senior managers in charge of information flow synchronize with the project managers to ensure that the mini projects in the agency are well harmonized.
  2. To ascertain the key areas in which the portfolio managers and the middle level managers needed to join forces to enhance availability of computer aided services in government agencies.
  3. To establish whether the information project managers of computer aided programs could run successfully without being aided by the pinnacle management.
  4. To examine how the middle level managers perform in absence and presence of the portfolio management.

Ethical Research Considerations

Before conducting the initial research, the researcher obtained a written permission from the director of Dubai Customs to carry out this research with employees working in the government agency for a period spanning two weeks. Before carrying out the research, participants were provided with detailed information concerning the research and why it was being carried out. All participants taking part in the observation survey and the and interviews were given full details on the purpose of the research. The direct observation method was used on the ten senior managers while the interview was utilized on the fifty middle level managers picked from different departments in the organization.

The researcher provided information sheet which offered clear details on the back ground to the research endeavor, the aim and objectives of the research and the confidentiality with which the data would be handled. Further, the researcher made it clear to the research participants that they had the right to withdraw from the interview process at their whim.

The survey partakers were given assurance that the data collected during the survey process would be private and would be stored securely and the only people who could access that data would be the researcher and the supervisor. There was an assurance offered by the interviewer that all the responses deduced would be truthfully analyzed and recorded. After the completion of the research, the participants were given a summarized copy of the final results. The researcher went further to publish large print results for the visually impaired students.

Research Methodology

Observational Survey

Observation is an exceedingly proficient way of collecting data if undertaken in a disciplined, well structured manner. Observation taps straight into the mannerism and behaviors of the subject under study. The researcher does not utilize secondary information or third party perceptions, rather he gets first hand information through express contact with the phenomena and this helps him to deduce the data just as it appears without any distortions. Through this methodology, the researcher avoids erroneous mistakes which could inhibit accuracy in data collected. The researcher in this case utilized a well structured check list which helped to observe the behavioral tendencies of the managers under study in the various settings.

The researcher in this case endeavored to deduce accurate results by utilizing Purposive/expediency participant sampling. This method was utilized for the purposes of enhancing precision and for convenience purposes. Dubai Customs comprise of many departments and functions spread allover the nation with a population of over two million employees the researcher deduced that a 1.5% of the agency employee involvement in the research would be a realistic figure. Further, sampling two ramifications of the management group which comprise of the top level mangers and the middle level managers created a leeway through which diversified views and opinions could be deduced.

Before the observational study the researcher went for cognizance trip to establish the key areas and offices on which to carry out observation. Further he researcher sought for official permission to carry out observations in various departments with a group of people. Every manager was given a notice prior to the actual date of observation to avoid misunderstanding between the researcher and the subjects under study.

The survey aspired to obtain the different views of middle level management had concerning the project management process and how the project managers and portfolio managers should be involved in coordinating the process of project implementation. The researcher sought to probe into the crucial role played by the top level management in ensuring that projects are implemented and executed successfully. Thus the cluster of the middle level management chosen for the observation exercise were individuals rigorously involved in day to day operations of Dubai Customs and had hands on information concerning the subject of study. The methodical choice of the participants in the survey from different regions ensured that the researcher got a cross sectional feed back from different ages, gender and locations.

Use observation method was the only convenient way in this research owing to the time restrictions. The employees have got a glut of work back log to deal with and a lot of people to attend to hence interviews would have been interference to their operations. Use of direct observation this case gave the researcher an advantage since it was not possible to deduce so much data from many participants in a short period. The researcher had previously planned to use the email to file the questionnaires, but it was later established that some middle level mangers were not able to access the internet facilities while at work due to the government working policies.

Before the observation process began the chief executive of the company appended a memo on the organizational notice informing them of the observational process and the time period it was going to take. Further, the notice enlisted the key objectives of the researcher requesting the staff members under observation to cooperate with the researcher and to offer any substation information if requested.

The researcher had a check list applicable to both portfolio and middle level managers which enabled him to draw conclusions from the information he observed in order to have solid information required under the study. The researcher spent quality time observing each of the managers enlisted for the exercise in order to assemble the perceptions they had concerning the harmonized work between the portfolio managers the middle level to enhance effectiveness in execution of duty.

These were the observations the researcher was keen to note during the survey process.

Objective One.

  • Is the personnel allocated the responsibility of pinnacle management committed to involve the middle management in the myriad projects mired in the overall organizational goals.
  • To see whether all the middle level managers appreciated the role of the top management the researcher looked for cues like.
  • Whether there was an interactive working rapport in all managerial levels.
  • The role played by the middle level management in the numerous organizational projects.
  • Whether the top level management consulted the middle level managers before making decisions on a particular project.
  • Whether the middle level managers seemed to enjoy a working relationship with their seniors in particular projects.

Another paramount observation that the researcher sought to establish is the comfort level in both the senior and middle level managers as they delved in group activities and the researcher looked for the cues elaborated below.

Objective Two.

  • Can either the middle level or portfolio manager head a project or must it be exclusively headed by the portfolio managers.
  • Do the middle level managers ever head any project and make key decisions concerning it or do they solely rely on the portfolio managers.
  • Do the Portfolio managers ever seek advice from the middle level managers?
  • Do the opinions of the middle level management garner any support from the senior managers?


General Information Authority has different kinds of employees amongst which there are casual employees and staff on permanent basis. Moreover, the ministry is ramified into numerous departments which are located allover the nation. Every department is headed by the senior executive who serves as the top level manager, thus the ministry has a high employee turn over. The top level managers are usually busy owing to the kind of responsibilities pegged on them. Therefore, the researcher opted to hold face to face interviews with the top level managers because their number was very minimal hence the researcher could afford to interview the nominal number.

In this case the interviewer used convenience sampling to make sure that the work was conducted with ease in order to garner the respective credible results. The researcher recognized that by interviewing the top level managers from their place of work since they were mostly in their offices and moreover being public servants made them easily accessible by prior organized appointments. All the executives sampled for this research were on-site thus they were easily accessible to the researcher.

In order to get the inherent views of the senior managers in the agency the researcher chose to use face to face method in order to get in-depth information which could only be obtained by asking a question and making a follow up on an opinion voiced by the executives. The researcher was thoughtful before establishing the right channel to use while interviewing the top executives in the agency, it seemed useful to interview a small cluster of the selected senior staff members rather than risk a pool of numerous responses which would not guarantee credibility in the information garnered. An invitation had been previously send ten to the executive managers requesting them to participate in the interview process and only five accepted to be interviewed hence the researcher garnered information from five executives only.

Owing to the busy schedules of the executive managers the interviewer had to devise a schedule comprising of ten questions which were foremost piloted on three staff members and there were no changes implemented on the pilots. By directly interviewing the senior managers the researcher created a room for insertion of the areas that had been excluded before. The interview questions were utilized in getting the ideas of the senior managers and ascertaining what they believed their role was and how they perceived the middle level management could aid them in their decision making responsibilities.

Prior to the interview the researcher made personal telephone calls to all the interviewees and set up the right time and place for the interviews to be conducted. All the executives to be interviewed were given a summary brief of the interview and were send the interview questions through the email in order to allow for preparations. It turned out all the interviewees were very busy hence the researcher had to carry off-site interviews with each individual during the lunch hour for a period of twenty minutes. The interviewer took notes during the interview session and with the permission of the interviewees the information obtained was tape recorded for future reference.

Before commencing the interview the executives involved were asked whether they preferred face to face interview or they opted for the questionnaire. All the five members involved chose to answer the interview question since they thought it minimized on time wastage and helped them to think in advance before they answered the questions. A total of five executives from different departments in the same ministry were interviewed. The researcher was in a position to probe the interviewees for more details analyzing the responses garnered.

Through the interview process the interviewer cleared the vague questions helping the interviewees to offer more appropriate responses to the questions phrased.

Summary Of The Findings

Dubai customs has got innumerable single-projects which are managed by the middle level managers. There are notable factors which help the project managers undertaking single projects to attain success. These factors include, availability of key information which enhances key decision making, availability of ample resources for executing the necessary activities to steer projects into success and good communication rapport between the senior portfolio managers and middle level managers for offering guidance and direction.

Notably, the middle level managers have a great mandate to oversee single project units to ensure that they are in accord with the general organizational goals. The portfolio management should be keen in setting organizational goals in order to steer the single-project managers into the right direction. It was established that competence in management was attained when the single project managers and the portfolio managers worked in consensus. Whilst, the temptation to overlook the role played by the middle level management in attainment of success is factual, the portfolio management has to come into terms with harmony building and communicative decision making process.

Research Limitations

The researcher was operating on an exceedingly tight schedule to remain at par with the procedures of the interviewees. In some instances the researcher had to interview the respondents over lunch hurrying up the process and this limited the information that he interviewee were willing to give. Nevertheless, the whole survey process was very successful. Though the time frame was restricted there was high response which augmented the credibility of the information obtained.

Data Analysis

Data Analysis

The data collected through research questionnaires and face to face interviews was tabulated and tarried to bring forth the final conclusions. According to the research questions framed a 67% of respondents answered that project management and Portfolio management should work in synchronization. The remaining 33% of the respondents was convinced that portfolio management could operate on its own and manage the projects without necessarily being complemented by the project managers.

The research findings established that most portfolio managers tend to overlook the role played by the project managers and this creates a rift between the two parties. The gap between the project managers and the top level managers causes communication malfunction which causes the flow of ideas to halt. When there is poor communication stream and rapport establishment ideas are clogged within individuals since they lack a working connection thus the projects underway are influenced by one group overlooking the opinions of the others causing it to have some operational lapses.

For the purposes of this study the researcher utilized content analysis, which was followed by thematic analysis which and further diverges to compare the results deduced through thematic ramification. The content analyzed includes views and opinions voiced by the respondents as they filled in the questionnaires and as they answered the interview questions.

The researcher categorized the data in two tabular forms whereby the group that supported the match up work of portfolio management and project managers was accorded one section and the other group shored up support for independent operation of the portfolio management without being supported by the other levels of management. This kind of approach was highly inductive because the themes emerging in the final report are not obliged upon the respondents by the researcher; rather information was freely obtained from the respondents giving the information the desired integrity. The data obtained from all the respondents was analyzed, compared and contrasted until the researcher drew conclusive remarks to help answer the research question.

Content analysis in order to fully comprehend the respondents’ reaction to the research questions the researcher used content analysis approach when dealing with the open ended questions appended in the questionnaires to help in the research quantification process.

Validation Of the research problem

Most projects proposed in an organizational milieu are hypothesized at the middle level but once they are taken over by the acme management they lose ownership. The top-level management has the mandate to spearhead the projects instigated by the middle level management; challenge is the apex management lacks the fervor and determination to bring into completion what was initially the middle level’s project proposal. Portfolio management forms the focal point through which all the organizational projects are managed and directed. In order for the projects in the lower levels to succeed there must an inexorable communication, consensus building and consultations on all levels of management to ensure there is no room gaffs or mix-up.

In this study, there is evidence acquired from numerous cases giving its legitimacy back up. The data was obtained through questionnaires and oral interviews the evidence collected was more robust because there were multiple respondents obtained from a diverse pool of participants. The researcher was in a position to obtain multifaceted approach to the same research problem due to the diversity of the respondents interviewed. The research data collected is compared against the back drop information deduced from the review of the literature previously conducted on this study.

This research seeks to underline the fact that portfolio management is bound to fail if it operates independent of the other facets of project management. Project organization, resource planning, and corporate networking all form a basis for efficiency in execution of any project plan. Portfolio management and project management have to work in accord in order to reap project success (Moroney, 1981.pp.49). Whilst portfolio management caters for the overall direction of a project, project managers oversee its intricate details ensuring that no detail or facet of the project is overlooked.

Analysis of problem areas

The question begging for an answer in this research is: why do portfolio projects fail sometimes irrespective of the meticulous details taken into consideration during their formulation and their commencement. The answer lies in the discordant operation between the project managers and the portfolio management. In order for a project to bear fruits efforts must be exerted by both the management teams to ensure that no details are left out or overlooked. Further, the people who have the intrinsic knowledge of the projects must be at the forefront during the decision making process.

The portfolio management has the duty of ensuring that all the projects and elements of the corporation work in harmony for the achievement of the organizational goals. In order for projects to function well they must be assigned to the specific individuals who are acquainted with their processes and procedures. The project managers become the custodians of the projects while the portfolio management plays the role of the overseer ensuring that the project managers are performing their tasks in accordance to the laid down procedures.

The project managers should continuously consult with the portfolio managers and keep them updated on the progress of their projects. In essence, the portfolio managers should not play a hand on duty in managing the projects; they should give the directives to the accredited project managers and let them run the projects (Lyons 22). When the top level interferes with the project managers and limit their capability to run and manage them, they create a vacuum so that the projects are left bare with no specific persons to watch over their progress. The portfolio management has got too much facets in an organization to deal with, they thus lack the capacity to give keen attention to every project on track.

Problem area effect on project success

A project in an organization is likely to fail if it lacks good planning, organization and coordination. In order for a project to succeed it must have a workable plan with an overseer pegged to it. In other words, a project must be painstakingly planned even before it is commenced, once the plan is in pipeline, resources must be allocated to the project in order for it to instigate its implementation process. Moreover, it must be given an overseer who would watch over it and account for it incase of failure. The supervisor must be well versed with the project, he must be able to feel its pulse and communicate to the portfolio management incase of a set back.

A problem arises when the portfolio management, the body which cements the flow of all projects and oversees their success, is given the mandate to manage the individual projects. This will cause a trail off in the way projects are run and managed because the portfolio management has glut of details to observe and thus lacks the knack to pick all the details of each details to check on their progress (Harden 45). Moreover, the portfolio management lacks the specialized skills for overseeing each specific project, which is why they should just be contented with getting reports and update on the progress of projects from each project manager.

Interference of the portfolio management in the project management process creates a room for failure. Instead of managing the project, portfolio managers should just offer advisory and resource support to complement the work of the project managers. Project managers on the other hand should take the projects personally and delve in establishing any bottleneck to the progress of the project and update the portfolio management in order to ensure that there is success in implementation and progress of the project.


The portfolio management mainly pilots the commencement and finishing of a project. The major goals of portfolio management is maximize on the profitability of the project, it offers project balance and helps in supporting projects to be in line with the strategies of the organization. The senior management has the duty to make key decisions concerning the project under way it also conducts stage-gate appraisals of the organization.

The project managers on the other hand work under the portfolio management to ensure that all the details of the project are taken care of; they help in ensuring that the progress details are updated (Gough 62). In order for project managers to reap maximum results achievable, they should be in a position to work harmoniously with the portfolio managers. The portfolio managers should not obstruct the operations of the project managers they should allow them to make decisions independently, and steer their projects towards the organizational goals. The senior level management should not dissuade the operations of the project managers they should, lead, advice and encourage them but not manipulate their operations.

Works Cited

Gough, Duglus. Exerting the voice: Data aided policy making. London: Trentham Books, 2007. Print.

Harden, Smith. A systematic reviews for managers and policy makers. California: USA, March 2006. Print.

Lyons, Aatrur. Practical Guide to Data Analysis and information collection. London: Cambridge press, 2002. Print.

Maroney, Michael. Facts Deduced from Figures. NY: Penguin book publishers, 1981. Print.

Mendall , Amon. “The Advanced Theory of Statistics (Volume 3). Chicago: Chuck publishers, 2004. Print.

Oliver, Klut. Gathering facts to bring policy, practice and research together. London: Open University Press. 2005. Print.