“Competency and Role Path from Being Project Manager, to Program Manager, to Portfolio Manager”

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
Existing literature indicated an extensive recognition of project management in recent years as a business discipline that is required to be managed by educated, skilled and experienced individuals to get the job done right. This research aims at exploring the list of required competencies and main responsibilities of project, program and portfolio managers‘ roles and identifying the relationships between the roles in regards to career path progression. To fulfill this aim, extensive literature review in the fields of project, program and portfolio management was undertaken from which the conceptual framework was derived and verification was done through the empirical research. The research was based on qualitative research method that followed case study approach using semi-structured interview as data collection tool with selected respondents from one of the government organizations responsible for transportation infrastructure in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. For confidentiality reasons the organization will be called AB throughout the research. The research was conducted according to an opportunity found in AB, which was the organization the researcher worked in. The ambiguity in the selection process of project managers, unavailability of clear list of required competencies and main responsibilities related to project manager role, non realization of program and portfolio managers roles encouraged the researcher to investigate and verify the required list of competencies and main responsibilities under project, program and portfolio managers‘ roles and explore the relationship between the three in regards to career progression. After conducting the semi-structured interviews, analysis of individual cases was presented followed by cross case analysis including comparison with literature findings and shared documentations by the HR Department. The interesting finding was that there was major discrepancy between the list of required competencies and main responsibilities that were based on the literature review and the final list produced as part of research outcomes. The research closes by presenting the final list of required competencies across the three roles according to input received from respondents. The list illustrated required competencies that were agreed on by the highest number of respondents and similar competencies across the roles were highlighted. Moreover, the final list of main responsibilities was developed based on input received from respondents and the overall career progression relationship was presented. This research recommends using the final developed list of required competencies and main responsibilities to reevaluate existing job descriptions and competency framework of project manager role in the organization. Also, it can support in constructing the same for program and portfolio managers. Furthermore, it is proposed to revisit the existing career path plan of project manager role and to incorporate the program and portfolio managers‘ roles to project manager career path that would support effective management and control of project management function within the organization. Additionally other suggestions related to project management improvements were introduced such as the use of software application that manages projects, programs and portfolios across the organization.
project manager, program manager, portfolio manager, project management, portfolio management, United Arab Emirates (UAE)