By recognising the differences between programme management and project management, businesses can ensure that they have the requisite resources and expertise to achieve optimal results and employees can determine whether project or programme management is their area of specialism.
What is Project Management?
Project managers lead a team to complete all project goals and optimise outputs. Typically, specific constraints and parameters, as well as deliverables, timescales, and budgets, are established at the outset of a project, although flexibility should be maintained so that teams can respond to external or internal variables without unnecessary disruption.
The nature of a project varies depending on the organisation and industry, but examples include developing new software, launching new products, or streamlining lead generation. With clear objectives and established KPIs (key performance indicators), project managers can delegate tasks to team members to ensure that goals are met.
Modern project management doesn’t rely solely on a manager’s instinct or experience; instead, established processes and methodologies are applied to the project. Popular project management methodologies include Waterfall, Agile, Lean, Extreme Programming (XP), Six Sigma, and PRINCE2, although others are available.
What is Programme Management?
Programme management takes a broader approach than project management and focuses on achieving overriding objectives, rather than specific goals. Often, a programme will consist of numerous projects. As each project is completed and deliverables are realised, the programme objective is closer to being achieved. Once every project within the programme has been successfully completed, the programme objective should be met.
As you can see, there is some overlap between programme and project management but there are distinct differences too. While project management knowledge and experience can certainly help you to become a successful programme manager, the role does require a slightly different approach.
Programme manager responsibilities often include:
- Devising and implementing organisational strategies
- Assessing and forecasting a programme’s commercial impact
- Identifying requisite projects within a programme
- Onboarding project managers
- Facilitating inter-team collaboration and communication
- Measuring programme ROI
Programme Manager vs Project Manager
Although the terms ‘programme manager’ and ‘project manager’ are sometimes used interchangeably, they are distinct roles and should be recognised as such. Essentially, a programme manager creates overarching strategies that are designed to achieve the organisation’s main aims, such as increasing revenue, boosting sales, or acquiring more customers. Within each programme, a series of projects are initiated, and it is here that project managers come into play.
Project managers take on the responsibility for a single project and are required to achieve specific deliverables within set parameters, such as a defined budget or deadline. Taking more of a micro approach than a macro-overview, project managers take ownership of particular projects to ensure that key goals are achieved in pursuit of larger programme objectives.