Difference Between Program Manager vs. Project Manager

When we start to talk about program management vs project management, one has to consider what similarities and differences can be defined between the concepts. In the case when company has a big project that requires several other unit projects, then it becomes a program.

The fact that large programs comprising of unit projects, may become too overwhelming for one employee, makes it compulsory for project handlers to delegate responsibilities to different individuals. A successful program will require the outlining of objectives, managing project operations, planning project executions, and reporting the status of each components to the appropriate managers.

Putting it in simple terms, the main difference between these two meanings is as follows: a program comprises of numerous projects which are merged together, therefore a program manager oversees different managers which work on the project. These managers report, in turn, to the program manager who supervise all unit projects to ensure that they conform to the overall aims and objects of the program.

What is a program manager?

A program manager can be described as a strong leader, who oversees the overall program that comprises of all projects. He draws out the goals of the program and defines how each project will affect the end result.

A program leader is expected to map out and determine the number of projects which are dependent to the general program, the time frame for each project to be completed, and how each project will contribute to the overall goal. Implementation of different strategies, is the main focus of a Business program manager, he also work out how to delegate different projects.

For example, our business plan program is to implement a huge marketing campaign, then one of the project should be, how to generate new campaign leads, how to raise awareness and how to expand the targeted market.

What is a project manager?

The main responsibility of a project manager is to monitor and control the operations of personal projects, and they report to the head manager on constant basis. The coordination of the project’s time frame, budget, and resources, will be his or her main responsibility.

Here, a project management role can be more tactical, because the project manager has to work on staying within project budget, meeting up with deadlines, and handling deliverables. Here, the job of the project manager is completed once a project is completed.

Project vs. program management

When we start to deal with the issue of program manager vs. project manager, here the most important thing is to consider the overall job success, as well as the clarity in duties, to avoid replication of jobs. So, the main differences between these two meanings are:

  • Projects will end, while programs are ongoing,
  • Governing programs are more intensive than project management,
  • Programs do have a wider scope of business management,
  • Program management demands higher leadership capabilities.

Projects will end, while Programs are ongoing

Programs often span over a longer duration of time than projects, and that is one of the main difference. A program will require more strategic planning that may not be required for project management. This does not mean a program manager has to do more than project managers, some projects are more time-consuming and, as a consequence, more complex than the whole program itself.

Programs can be changed from time to time, however, the scope and time frame of a project will remain the same. For a program to be successful, all projects attached to it must be completed on or before the required time, and some projects may not begin until other projects have been completed, therefore a program runs continuously until all projects have been accomplished.

Governing programs are more intensive than project management

One difference between programs and projects, is that programs are normally bound to an organization’s financial plan, and that makes a program for intensive than a project. Program managers have more responsibility of delivering results that are tied to the financial capacities of an organization; hence, all projects must manage distributed resources. Projects must be run on a project’s time frame, and a program manager must ensure that all project managers meet up with all time frames.

Programs are run by a senior manager of an organization, who provides control to project managers. A program manager must be capable of influencing decision at a program level, likewise he must possess the skills to resolve disputes and disagreements between project managers. Also, it is necessary for the program manager to be certain that the organization’s board provide achievable objectives that must be delivered by all project managers and their respective teams.

Programs do have a wider scope of financial management

Naturally, one  should expect the financial scope of a Program to be higher than that of a project, in most cases, the financial implications of each project are normally calculated to arrive at the entire costs of the program, and for this reason, a program manager must have a significant understanding of market analysis, in addition to accounting analysis, such as issues of inflation, demands and supply and so on.

Program management requires higher leadership capabilities

By management definition, a program manager is expected to show higher leadership capabilities that a project coordinator. A program manager must be able to settle differences between project managers, and must be able to communicate effectively with organization boards to ensure that everyone is on the same page. The goals, as well as objectives of a program are subjected to market changes, while the goals and objectives of projects are only subjected to organizational changes.

Regardless of whether you are a program manager or project coordinator, you will definitely require an effective app to help you coordinate all activities as regards your duties. Workly, is an ideal app that helps manage resources much better, and facilitate the distribution of duties across project teams. Workly is also capable of handling administrative duties, HR functions such as payroll and attendance monitoring, to ensure that staffs do not violate their terms of duties.