What are the definitions, distinctions and relationship between the following roles?

  • Project lead
  • Project Coordinator
  • Project Manager
  • Program Manager
  • Portfolio Manager
  • Product Manager (optional)
  • Business-analyst (optional)
  • Team lead (optional)

(I'm aware that we've touched on this before - example, example, example, example, example; I'm hoping that we can fold all these answers into one and change it to community wiki as a reference. One answer to rule them all; one answer to enable all to find them, one answer to bring them all and in the stack exchange to bind them.)

Please add new roles to this question rather than creating new questions; we want to nurture the network effect here

  • 1
    Adding to the list of candidate "canonicals" Commented Apr 27, 2013 at 16:41
  • 1
    Ahem... the last para indicates the need for a Fantasy PM SE site, doesn't it? Not sure if this is going to be any different from many government projects... Commented Apr 27, 2013 at 16:47
  • This questions doesn't have an answer, as each of these roles are defined based on business needs. Commented Apr 28, 2013 at 18:17
  • 1
    Hi Mark, I've slightly changed the subject to ease the search for this question. Feel free to revert it in case you didn't like :-)
    – Tiago Cardoso
    Commented Apr 29, 2013 at 0:18

2 Answers 2


Caveat at the start - these functional titles may be interpreted differently in different organations

Project Coordinator responsible for the adminstration/bookkeeping of a project: preparing budget breakdowns, frequential reporting, supporting standard meetings and

Project Manager responsible for planning, managing and steering the day-to-day activities of the project

Program Manager responsible for coordinating the activities of a number of projects toward a common goal or within the compass of an organisatinal divison (ie all the projects running in the Finance division) or even within a single budget (ie all marketing-related projects)

Portfolio Manager responsible for the Governance of a portfolio of projects, ensuring that the whole remain within projected expenditure and aligned to the assigned goals.

Product Manager (optional) responsible for the ensuring the efficiency and integrity of all processes with respect to a specific product.

Business-analyst (optional) Responsible for ensuring that all business constraints and requirements with respect to a specific product or functional area (Payments, Server Farm X etc.) are fully understood and implemented in any change/project with respect to his/her are of responsiblity.


The PMI view is:

  • A Project Manager manages a project. They make sure they get done within constraints. He cares most about execution details in day-to-day work.
  • A Program Manager has a bunch of projects. they may be a Project Manager on one or some of those too.
  • A Portfolio Manager has a bunch of program. This is more of a strategic "where should our business be in the future" role. This is the least about execution details and most about long-term planning.


  • A Product Manager worries about what the product/service should do. He makes sure the right thing/service that customers want is done. Then the Project Manager manages execution to build it.

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