Program Manager vs. Project Manager What's the difference?

July 08, 2022

Tags: Managed Teams, IT Staff Augmentation

project manager


The figure of the Project manager is already common to see in all companies worldwide, regardless of their size, being a position that is highly requested by recruiters and specialized employment pages.


The Coursera portal offers a good definition of what a project manager is or Project manager, “it is a professional who organizes, plans, and executes projects while working within restrictions such as budgets and schedules. Project managers are in charge of leading teams, defining goals, communicating with stakeholders, and bringing a project to closure. Whether executing a marketing campaign, constructing a building, developing a computer system, or launching a new product, the project manager is responsible for the success or failure of the project.


But there is also another similar position that companies are starting to look for in their processes: the Program Manager.


What is a Program Manager?


In Forbes they offer a detailed definition of a Program manager, “A program manager is a person who supervises and manages a large program, often with several projects and initiatives involved, to ensure alignment with the objectives and the general strategy of the company".


In the article, they go on to explain that, unlike a project manager, program managers focus on strategy and ensure alignment with the mission of the company they work for, “Instead of focusing on the details of various projects, A program manager is more concerned with the benefits that various projects and initiatives will bring to the company and its stakeholders. The success of a program manager depends on whether the program meets the needs and provides the benefits for which it was designed.


Main differences between a Program Manager and a Project Manager


  • A Project manager is detailed, they must focus on all the details that allow a specific project to move forward, in addition to having experience working with project management software and other planning tools. A program manager, on the other hand, must be focused on strategies, have experience planning budgets, and have excellent communication skills.
  • Responsibilities of a Program manager include project strategies, risk assessment, and performance reporting to stakeholders. The Project manager is responsible for creating schedules, communication between team members, and ensuring that tasks are completed on time.
  • As for the tools they use to do their work, a Project manager usually uses project management software such as, Wrike, or ClickUp. A program manager should be familiar with these same tools, but their work, being more general, will spend more time away from a computer. Both project managers and program managers need to be familiar with industry-specific systems such as content management systems (CMS).


How to know if you need a Project manager or a Program manager


To determine exactly if the company needs a Project or Program manager, even both, you should ask yourself these questions and thus evaluate the needs and if they are based on a program or are from a specific project:


  1. Do you need someone to help you with strategic alignment or with technical results and milestones?
  2. Are the needs continuous and cross-functional, or do they have a specific scope?
  3. Are there multiple projects with different timelines and desired outcomes, or one project with a specific timeline?


Having an answer to these questions is when you will know if you need a Project or a Program Manager, which of these two is the ideal to meet the needs of your company and bring the projects and tasks to a successful and productive end.


At Roostack we have a team of project managers available to help your company carry out that task, project or process that they need so much. Do not hesitate a second to contact us and start growing in the professional market.


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