What is the difference between project manager and program manager?

The roles of program manager and project manager are very different, and understanding how to use each in your business is critical. A project manager is responsible for special needs or short-term projects. But the program manager is responsible for the program, which is generally a group of projects working together to achieve a larger goal. This means that if you’re only using project managers, you’re missing out on an essential part of the team.

What is the project?

What exactly is the project? A project is a small task that should generally be run once as an event. For example, if you are building a house, one of the projects will be electrical installation. The project has a cost, resource, time, and budget limitations. Generally, there is a deadline for its completion and there are general objectives that must be met for it to be successful. But the scope of this type of assignment is less.

What is the project
What is the project

The idea here is to focus on the short term and specifically on deliverables. The tasks being performed are generally very technical and well-defined. The success or failure of a project is measured by the quality of the product as well as whether the product is completed on time, within budget, and within regulations, and how well it meets the customer’s needs or expectations. These projects are just small pieces of a more giant puzzle that need to be completed, not a complete puzzle on its own.

Who is the project manager?

On the other hand, the project manager is responsible for taking care of individual projects in the whole program. They have a smaller area that they are responsible for. But in this area, there are those who oversee the entire team and ensure everything goes right. They are also the ones who report to the program manager. They receive or question team reports. Project managers are mostly tactical people in this process because they have to keep everything running smoothly.

Some of the duties of a project manager may include the following:

  • Meeting deadlines
  • Compliance with the predetermined budget
  • Delegation of tasks to team members
  • Perform deliverables
  • Coordination of time and resources
  • Report to the program manager
  • Organization of the overall team
  • Cost estimation and project budgeting
  • Work with clients to ensure project scope
  • Monitor team progress
  • Responding to questions and concerns of team members
  • Development of tasks and timetables
  • Overall project risk management
  • Management and updating of reports and documents
  • Clarify project scope and schedule
  • Developing policies and procedures to achieve overall goals

Project managers must be excellent at communicating with others and be strong leaders. They must also be adaptable, analytical, decisive, strategic, and responsive. These people must be risk-takers and able to multitask and communicate with each other both verbally and in writing. They need to know how to delegate tasks and while they need a working knowledge of their field, they primarily delegate tasks to others rather than doing most of them themselves. Consequently, these people should be able to recognize talent and use it well.

A good project manager is able to pay close attention to detail and manage time effectively. They must be able to negotiate, make excellent decisions even under pressure, and be motivated. Most project managers have a bachelor’s degree in business administration, but there are other ways to get into the field. Certificates are also available to showcase a person’s abilities further, although they are not required in all circumstances.

What is the program?

On the other hand, there are apps. If we return to the idea of ​​building a house, it is a plan to build a house. Every aspect of the house that needs to be completed is more project. This means that the program is a collection of projects that are all grouped together to achieve one goal, a complete house. With the program, instead of just a small piece of the puzzle, you will have a whole puzzle and the benefits and growth that come with it.

The idea here is to focus on the long term and specifically on the benefits that come when the job is done. The tasks that are implemented are quite strategic and will generally be relatively large. The goal is the outcome, and success or failure is measured by whether the needs and benefits are met. All the smaller projects come together to create this complete plan, and without all the projects being done right, the plan will not be successful.

Who is the program manager?

The program manager is responsible for fully understanding the program the business is working on and how the program affects the industry as a whole. They are responsible for identifying and evaluating all the projects that need to be done to complete the overall plan. As a result, program managers are the one’s project managers should turn to for help or reporting. This way, they can ensure that every project is done right.

Some of the program manager’s duties may include the following:

  • Assignment of teams
  • Implementation of strategies
  • Measuring return on investment
  • Oversee collaboration among project teams
  • Definition of success criteria
  • Evaluation of success criteria
  • Coordinating and tracking the progress of projects
  • Analysis of program policies and objectives
  • Communication between different project leaders
  • Evaluation of the overall success of the program and project
  • Developing strategies for continuous improvement of the program
  • Definition of success criteria

Program managers must be strong leaders because they will be responsible for project managers and will also largely oversee the teams that project managers are responsible for. They must be excellent negotiators and have critical thinking skills as well as strong communication skills. Program managers are responsible for communicating verbally and through written communication and must be able to interact with people from all levels of the organization. Likewise, they must be able to positively empower all of their team members from all levels of the coaching organization at every stage.

In most cases, humor is needed to get you through all the hard work and coordination required to effectively run a program. The program manager is also responsible for a lot of planning and delegation, which means they must be able to perform each of these tasks fairly and equitably. In most cases, these individuals have a degree in business administration or may have advanced certifications and training that prepare them for this type of leadership role.

Similarities between the project manager and program manager

Similarities between the project manager and program manager
Similarities between the project manager and program manager

Although project managers and program managers work in different areas, they are generally very similar. In general, the program manager performs the same tasks as the project manager on a larger scale. They make sure that the project managers are doing their jobs, and the project manager similarly makes sure that the team members are doing their jobs properly. It’s a process that gives everyone the ability and confidence to know what they’re doing and to properly support projects all the way through.

The skills required for these two roles are also quite similar. Both managers must be strong leaders and able to communicate with people at different levels of the organization. Both should be able to plan and delegate tasks, and both should be able to think critically and negotiate. In many ways, these people will be quite similar, the main difference is only in the range of tasks they perform, not the tasks themselves. Both of these roles require training and experience, and you must be able to perform them properly.

A tool needed by the project manager and program manager

Both project managers and program managers need some important tools. Because they are responsible for many tasks and managing different people, they need better ways to keep track. They need ways to monitor the progress of other aspects of the project or program, and they need to be able to monitor them without having to physically talk to employees. The right tools make this happen easily and effectively.

Task Tracking: Managers need a way to track all the different tasks that are necessary for a project and program. Using this system, you can create as many jobs as you need at each stage. This allows you to group tasks and make sure everyone knows what they’ve done and who needs to work with whom to complete a specific task.

Assigning dates: You can also set the start date and due date for each task and general steps. This ensures that everyone knows when they need to start their work and when the overall step needs to be done. Making these types of deadlines visible to all team members makes it much easier for everyone to be held accountable. They can also push each other because they know what each team member needs to do.

Creating dependencies: Sometimes some work needs to be done before the next work can start. When this happens it creates dependency and this is possible through this system. Dependencies can be set up in a variety of ways, and when changes are made to one part of the puzzle, all dependencies are automatically adjusted so that everything works together. This makes it possible for any project manager or program manager to make changes to the system because there is no need to make settings for each task. Only one set is required.

Customization: Everything is customizable. So each task can be set with custom colors to make them easier to view. Subtasks can be added to overall tasks to make sure none are missed, and milestones can be added to set specific events. It’s also possible to set a progress bar for each task so that team members can update everyone on their progress and what they still need to do to complete the tasks. This makes it easier for everyone to know what to do.

Collaboration: Everyone on the team must be able to collaborate quickly and efficiently. They must be able to perform and review various tasks at the stage assigned to them and contact other people at that stage. Then they can ask for help, get explanations, etc. They will also have the ability to review each other’s work, which may provide feedback without the need for contact. This can be more efficient and provide better project and program management.

Create a pattern: In many programs, there are specific projects that need to be run consistently. What this means is that there are usually certain projects that should be in every program (or at least the vast majority of programs) that you do. Creating a template allows you to pre-set a project that will be added to each time the application is created. This saves the time needed to recreate the project and redefine the tasks. Using a template makes it easy to prepare projects faster if everyone is responsible for the same tasks.


In general, you will need different qualities to be an effective project manager or program manager. You are responsible for what is done in the team and you are also responsible for following up on the work process and ensuring customer satisfaction. No matter what kind of project or major program you’re running, it’s important to bring everyone together as a single team to achieve the goal. With the right software and strategies, this is possible.

If you want to work as a program manager or project manager, the best thing you can do is focus on the skills we mentioned. Becoming a leader can be a great way to get started and prove to those at a higher level that you are ready for the responsibility. From there, make sure you’re doing each of your tasks to the best of your ability and encourage the use of effective tools to keep track of everything that needs to be done. You can become a better program manager or project manager by using the right tools to support your process.

Check Also: 

Who is the project manager and what are her duties?

Who is a technical project manager and how can we achieve this role?

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