Select Page

Identify a Program Manager from a Project Manager

Identify a Program Manager from a Project Manager

To be able to fully understand the differences between a program manager and a project manager, there must be a clear definition of program management and project management.



The Program Management

Program management is the process of managing multiple related on-going projects.  This include series of tasks  include planning, monitoring, and reporting of ongoing activities, cost/schedule tracking, clerical, other administrative support, and grants to states and localities. Program Management also reflects the emphasis on coordinating and prioritizing resources across projects, departments, and entities to insure that resource contention is managed from a global focus. Meanwhile a program manager studies the system of programs and how are these designed to use appropriate service strategies to meet program goals. The budget allocation is developed and costs or expenditures are also tracked for individual programs. The concept of the delivery of the program is made through its completion by having a team of experts whose the main focus is the attainment of the owner’s goals.

Program management is then implemented to combine the ability and resources to define, plan implement and integrate every aspect of the comprehensive program. The process whereby a single leader exercises centralized authority and responsibility for planning, organizing, staffing, controlling, and leading the combined efforts of participating/assigned personnel and organizations, for the management of a specific programs, throughout the system life cycle.

Program management encompasses the following terminologies: Projects which consist of inter related series that meet to attain a specific objectives set by the management; Planning when it comes to scheduling of the tasks and activities and its coordination; Monitoring which involves the monitoring; and reporting about the components of the projects. It also comprises the reporting to the higher level management when it is needed; programs also need budget  to fulfill the tasks, the deadlines and resources.

To add, Program management is an active process of managing multiple work streams or projects which need to meet or exceed business goals according to a chosen methodology. It focuses on tighter integration and good communications and more control over the resources of the program.


The Project Management

On the contrary, a Project Management is centralized which follows a plan, organize, control and deploy its key milestones, deliverables and resources from its conception through completion. The project managers are skilled in using specific templates and techniques to manage the entire process. It focuses on a deliverable within the framework of established project management processes as established by the Project Management office (PMO).  This is true, whether the project is a business or a technical project, and whether the project is related to one or more other projects, or is a stand-alone project.

Therefore, a Project Manager is someone who can be seen as the leader of the whole project. He articulates the goals and the objectives of the program and the impact that it is going to create. The main role of a project manager is to map out everything on the list of the project which are to completed in a certain period of time. The manager focuses on the strategies and its implementation and task delegation.

On the other hand, a project manager is the person who manages or controls the operations in an individual project within a program. This manager coordinates the time, budget and resources and task delegation among the team members. This manager then reports to the program manager regarding the development of the business processes and the uncontrollable constraints the main focus of the manager is the operational elements such as deadlines, staying on the budget, and completing its deliverables.


Salient Points to Remember  

To top it all, the differences between project management and program management would be the following:

  1. Programs are always driven by scope, scale and benefits. It encompasses a series of projects to achieve an overarching set of objectives, where projects have specific and more singular objectives.
  2. Program management involves more than oversight of a set of projects.  It includes application of common standards and processes to the execution of projects. In comparison, project management is handled and controlled by an individual and the only focus revolves around the project, and the team under the program.
  3. Program manager oversees the whole program and the benefits delivered through the projects within the program. However, the project manager focuses on his own project and deliveries.
  4. The program manager establishes the business and technical processes while the project manager takes care of its implementation.
  5. The program manager audits and enforcement of established processes and the project manager is responsible for the utilization of costs and creating its reports.
  6. The program manager does the acceptance of reports, does the analysis while the project manager implements the improvements decided upon by the program manager.
  7. The program manager ensures the measurement of the existing processes while the project manager applies this measurement and comes up with the results to be communicated to the program manager.
  8. Program managers are often responsible for delivering results tied to the organization’s financial calendar. Projects run on project time. A project manager isn’t responsible for delivering quarterly results.
  9. The program manager must ensure that the governance board provides achievable objectives for the program and must deliver to these objectives.While the project manager may establish a similar governance structure but not that intensive.
  10. Program managers may promote change Management which is an executive leadership while Project manager employ a formal change in the management process.


In summary, the program manager is responsible for the entire program and its programs governing the different measurements and methodologies to employ. He oversees the entire processes and decides after the reports have been given to him. On the other hand, a project manager is responsible for the implementation of the organizational and operational goals and reports it to the program manager. He only focuses on the process within the project he was concerned with, and the achievement of hi unit.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

About The Author

Management Square

Management Square is a service provider company specializing in Strategy Execution, Business Transformation, and Portfolio, Program and Project Management.Our mission is to create high quality trainings through professional excellence, and to provide a consultancy of choice through extensive learning experiences.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Popular Content


Join Our Community !!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Follow Us