Programme Management and Project Management: What Are the Differences?

Is there a difference between programme management and project management? Learn the answer to this question and more about programme management.

Keyword(s): programme management

Did you know that 59% of project managers manage between two and five projects?

But can a project manager be a programme manager at the same time? Unfortunately, many people don't know the differences between project and programme managers.

There are a handful of factors contributing to this persistent confusion. There are two main reasons for this.

First, many experts work on both projects and programmes concurrently, if not simultaneously. The second is a substantial level of overlap between the two management functions.

Is there a distinction between project and programme management? Learn more below.

What Is a Programme Manager?

A programme manager is someone responsible for overseeing and managing an extensive programme.

A programme often includes several projects and plans. This is to ensure consistency with the company's overall goals and strategy.

Programme Managers' Primary Objectives

As opposed to project managers, programme managers have a more strategic approach. They aim to ensure orientation with the company's mission.

Rather than project details, a program manager focuses on the potential advantages to a firm and its consumers. That is whether the programme meets the requirements and delivers the desired benefits.

What Does a Project Manager Do?

A project manager is the "holder" of a particular project. Their responsibilities are more limited than those of a programme manager. Project managers keep their team members on track and processes running smoothly.

A programme manager concentrates on overall strategy. A project manager focuses on specific project logistics.

Project Managers Key Goals

Because a project manager's primary goal is to complete a project, they focus on deliverables and milestones. They manage the project from start to finish. They do this by establishing:

  • The scope of the project
  • The project schedule
  • The project resources

You measure the success of a project by:

  • Performance of the project
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Timely delivery
  • Essential stakeholder satisfaction

Project managers have to manage these to complete a project.

The Differences Between Project and Programme Management

Both project managers and programme managers play critical roles within the company. However, there are critical differences between the two positions that you should understand before applying or hiring. The basic areas of distinction are as follows:

Project Scope

Projects are unique in the fact that they have a specific scope. There is a:

  • Defined project start date
  • An anticipated finishing date
  • Specific in-between deliverables

A project manager sticks to using plans to meet specific deliverables. The programme manager, on the other hand, coordinates multiple initiatives. For example, if you liken a project to a train, the programme is the control centre.

The Actual Duration

Both project and programme activities are temporary. However, typically projects are shorter-term activities, while programmes are usually longer-term ventures.

It's for this very reason that many individuals regard programmes as ongoing. But in fact, their life and length are controlled by a series of related projects. These linked projects typically have different start and end dates and different durations. They are also each managed by an assigned project manager.

The Objective

The primary goal of project management is to complete each task on time and within budget. On the other hand, the core purpose of programme management is to attain business results.

Project management focuses on deliverables. Programme management focuses on benefits. However, project and program outcomes must always coincide with company aims.

Change Management

Since project management focuses on accomplishing specified deliverables, the goal is often to limit change and keep to the plan.

However, bearing this in mind, it has been known that projects can go off the rails. Significant changes are unavoidable.

Because the purpose is to gain business benefits, programme management is often more accepting and flexible.

Stakeholder Management

In general, stakeholder management in managing a programme is more challenging than in a project. As a result, many, if not all, of the business outcomes will only be noticed in the future.

This is a challenge for project managers. However, they can at least show ongoing success by pointing to progress according to the project plan.

For example, as long as things are completed on time and within budget, there is no leading cause for stakeholders to be concerned.

Programme managers do not often have this advantage. This is because they usually deal with multiple projects unfolding at different stages. Also, with the delay between the completed work and the value add becoming clear.

As a result, it's easy to see why solid stakeholder management is regarded as a critical programme management component.

Qualifications and Skills

Having a Bachelor’s degree in business administration is a good foundation for any programme manager. A programme manager should also have management skills and experience in an advanced management role. They need the following:

  • Exceptional leadership, time management, facilitation, and organisational skills
  • Working knowledge of digital marketing
  • Excellent understanding of change management and performance evaluation processes

There are specialist certifications in both project and programme management.

Companies prefer to hire certified specialists with:

  • The competence
  • The knowledge
  • The expertise

All the above skills are needed to handle complicated projects. There are numerous certifications in the market. Three of the better known are the following:

  • PMP - Project Management Professional
  • CAPM - Certified Associate in Project Management
  • Prince2 - Projects in Controlled Environments from the Office of Government Commerce UK

Most certifications expire after a few years and need to be renewed.

Whether you're a seasoned project manager or just starting, a project management certification will help you progress your career. In addition, these credentials serve as stepping stones to help you perform better, be better, and increase your job prospects.

Project and Programme Management

The preceding discussion of project vs programme management provides a solid framework for grasping the differences.

There is a new level of thought and management at the programme level. Many project managers progress to become great programme managers.

The first step in becoming a programme manager is to grasp the differences between the two. Then acquire and build your project management skills, and gradually transition from projects to programme management.

Are you looking to learn, get training and acquire technical skills? Then, contact us. We are one of the most prominent rising learning services companies. We provide educational services that help our students enhance their skills and talents.

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