Program Manager

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A program manager is the strategic project planner of an organization whose job is to oversee multiple projects at the same time, where all projects are related to one major program.

This role holds a high-level view of the whole program, strategically manages and directs all the interconnected projects, and ensures that project managers are all working efficiently to achieve the main program goal. In short, it is like a meta-project manager who holds the key to the program’s success.

In organizations, achieving one large goal requires completing multiple individual projects. However, when those individual projects are interconnected, then it demands a special management approach to avoid any troubling situation. Therefore, this management job is what this role fulfills.

In this article, we will talk in-depth about program managers, their duties, and all other important details.

What Are the Main Responsibilities?

The role can include activities, such as:

  • Supervising multiple projects, setting milestones, and finalizing priorities.
  • Offering strategic assistance to individual project managers.
  • Ensuring the program remains on schedule and budget.
  • Assisting in cross-functional team communication.

In short, he works every day to ensure the fulfillment of the organization’s large goals.

Program Manager vs. Project Manager

Program manager and project manager seems just a synonym for each other, but their role and responsibilities are completely different. To understand this, we first have to clarify what is the meaning of “program”.

A program is a combination of multiple related projects that all support the big goal of an organization. For example, an organization can set a goal to launch a new product and use a new sales approach for it. So, there will be two individual projects (one for a new product launch and the other for a new sales approach) and one program (that includes those two projects).

So, a program manager supervises multiple project managers who are working on their individual projects. Some major differences between them are as follows:

  1. The program manager oversees multiple projects, while the project manager oversees one project.
  2. The program manager’s working approach is strategic, while the project manager’s working approach is tactical.
  3. The program manager’s main target is to achieve long-term goals, while the project manager’s main target is to achieve short-term deliveries.

What Does a Program Manager Do?

The main job of a program manager is to hold a high-level view of the whole program, strategically organize and direct all the interconnected projects at the same time, and ensure that project managers are all working efficiently to achieve the main goal.

Some main day-to-day activities of this job are as follows:

  • Plan the entire program and prioritize projects/deliveries.
  • Everyday management of the program until its completion.
  • Developing and caring for the budget of the program.
  • Set up the program governance.
  • Oversee project managers.
  • Ensure continuous communication with the stakeholders.
  • Handle program resources.
  • Oversee program documents.
  • Overcoming the challenges.
  • Conduct meetings with different teams, such as sales, development, marketing, etc.

In short, it is like a meta-project manager who holds the key to the program’s success. With the organization-wide view of the program along with top-notch management skills, he ensures that everything goes as per schedule from day one of the program to its completion.

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