Project Management

Program and Project Managers: What’s the Difference?

Program and project management – two very different roles, yet two similar-sounding job titles. Both the job roles are fundamentally unique, each with their own set of goals and challenges. Before we delve deep into understanding the difference between the roles of project managers and program managers, let’s first understand the difference between program and project.

The project is an enclosed task with a finite duration. On the other hand, the program is a collection of projects that contribute to a long-term goal. In this article at Project Practical, John Strange discusses the difference between the program managers and the project managers, their roles, and the tools that can help manage the program or a project.

Difference Between Program Managers and Project Managers

Program managers have broader responsibilities than the project manager. The program managers manage multiple projects and programs. They are more strategic in their thinking. While the project managers manage teams responsible for achieving project deliverables and often work on day-to-day task management on a more cellular level.

Difference in Roles

Program managers often coordinate at the enterprise level to manage projects at the macro level. The role of project managers, on the contrary, demands them to manage a project at a micro-level. Therefore, the tools both require to handle their responsibility will also differ.

Project managers individually manage team members. Whereas, program managers manage individual project managers. The role of the program manager demands a broader knowledge of the organization’s financial strategies, while the project managers must focus only on managing cost/budget for a specific project.

Tools for Project and Program Managers

Each program, project, or organization is unique. Organizations must choose a project management tool that allows a high level of customization. An excellent project management tool is undoubtedly a backbone of a neater and more organized project and pave the way for efficient execution of project or program. Program managers often remain focused on cross-team communication and milestone management. Whereas, project managers will track individual tasks. Issue logs, version control tools, and bug tracking functionalities are crucial for project managers.

If you are currently a project manager and consider the program manager as the next step in your career, you must understand how these roles differ. Programs are complex, and you must possess political awareness than a mere project. Click on to read more about project and program managers.


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