The difference between a project manager and a program manager, the main difference is that a project manager will create, lead, and most likely implement project planning on one or more projects. The Program Manager oversees multiple Project Managers and all of their work, linking them further and documents/software to track all deliverables across a much larger picture (this includes interactions, dependencies, and larger barriers to make sure all projects under them explode as smoothly as possible). In most organizations, this in practice means that the project manager may have 10% or more of a large program, while the program manager must look at and oversee it entirely. In larger organizations, there is sometimes also a portfolio manager to oversee multiple programs, although in many cases this is a manager-level task.
Project Manager and Program Manager
- Programs are underway, projects are finished
Programs usually extend much longer than the duration of the project. This may seem like an arbitrary difference. However, program management involves long-term strategic planning that is not required of the project.
- The programs are linked to the financial calendar of the organization
Program managers are often responsible for presenting results associated with an organization’s financial calendar.
Projects are run at project time. The project manager is not responsible for providing quarterly results.
Program managers are often driven by quarterly results as with the rest of the business.
- Programs have a greater scope for financial management
Projects usually have a direct budget. Project financial management focuses on budget spending.
Program managers may be responsible for revenue and costs that are critical to an organization’s financial results. Budget planning, management and control are significantly more complex in the context of a programme.
- Change management program is the ability of executive leadership
Projects use a formal change management process.
Changing the program is much more difficult to manage. Programs are driven by the organization’s strategy. They are subject to changing market conditions and business objectives.
Project management processes
Develop customer requirements
The project is dead in the water without these.
Submit/align/repeat/confirm customer requirements and expectations
This is a critical step. The excitement and urgency of getting a project moving causes this step to be skipped frequently.
Define/assign the required resources
You have to know who is doing what.
This will be the roadmap for the project. Adjustments will be necessary to keep the project in sync throughout its lifecycle. The best plans should be flexible because it is impossible to know what will happen in “real life” when the project begins.
Confirm the plan with the customer
Again, this is another important step that often gets overlooked. Do whatever it takes to get your customer’s attention long enough to confirm the plan with them.
Agree on a process to introduce and implement changes to the original plan, as required
The best plans should be flexible because it is impossible to know what will happen in “real life” when the project begins. This step introduces the possibility to change early and reduces resistance to change later in the project.
Don’t skip the planning/starting phase of your project. Don’t let your customer convince you of that either.
The project will have a much greater chance of success when this phase occurs. You and your stakeholders will be happier as a result.