← Back to Blog

Program manager vs project manager: understanding the key differences

minute read
Start your free trial of Bonsai management software today!
Start your free trial of Bonsai management software today!
Try it free
Updated on:
May 29, 2024
May 29, 2024
Table of contents
Start your free trial of Bonsai management software today!
Discover Bonsai all-in-one business management software.

The roles and responsibilities of a Program Manager and a Project Manager are different yet interlaced. A Program Manager deals with strategic objectives and controls overall program management in a manner that aligns with business objectives and ensures organizational growth. He or she is mainly concerned with strategic vision, team coordination, and long-term program execution.

On the other hand, a Project Manager goes deep into the details of individual projects under the program. Project Managers undergo tactical work; for instance, short-term task management, resource management, and the solution of immediate problems. Their purpose is centered on project management and collaboration to achieve project-specific goals.

Introduction to program and project management


Program and project management are critical disciplines that help in the realization of strategic objectives in business. While they exhibit similarities in terms of team coordination, collaboration, and resource management, they also possess the most critical differences. Project management is concerned with particular goals; it is also about tactical work and is temporal and comprises clear roles and responsibilities. On the other hand, program management cuts through the myriad of projects that are interconnected and have a common strategic vision that leads to the growth of an organization. It is a broader view that coordinates business objectives and the execution of a program within an organization. All of them need effective coordination and management to ensure desirable outputs.

Defining program management

What is program management? Program management is a coordinated management of multiple and related projects intended to realize strategic and tactical goals. Unlike project management, which is concerned with completing a particular project, program management oversees a suite of related projects to ensure they conform to the business objectives. The roles and responsibilities in program management will include strategic planning, ensuring that different project teams work together harmoniously, resource management, monitoring the execution of the programs, and ensuring organizational growth. In the same instant, the resemblance and difference between program and project management in coexistence deal with an efficient blend of strategic vision and tactical work.

Defining project management

Project management is an essential practice that entails the planning, organization, and allotment of tasks to achieve a particular result or business goal. In this, there comprises the tactical work of the doing of things right, which entails team coordination, resource availability, and collaboration to attain strategic objectives. In general, project management is confused with program management, but their roles and responsibilities are different. Project management involves the tactical work of individual projects, but program management includes a broader view of the strategic vision in which individual projects are placed in a program to run the organizational growth and program. Their similarities lie in the bottom line: to complete the business strategy from the top, and they operate cohesively to achieve the business strategy goal.

Roles and responsibilities of a program manager


A Program Manager is very critical in a program since it involves providing strategic vision and, in the same way, tactical work to the organizational growth. The major responsibilities of a program manager include strategic objectives setting, team coordination with different project management, and ensuring the program is executed successfully. The other important function is team coordination with the process of resources management, where resources are efficiently allocated to meet the goals of the business. This role involves a lot of collaboration and teamwork to ensure the cohesiveness among the various programs. The knowledge of similarities and differences in each program is quite important to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in obtaining desired outcomes.

Strategic planning and execution

Strategic planning and execution involves key aspects that include program management, project management, and team coordination. It allows for collaboration and organizational growth as it sets up smooth operations between strategic objectives and business objectives. Differences and similarities in roles and responsibilities are discovered and addressed, which optimizes resource management and ensures effective working out of the program. The process commences with a strategic vision that encompasses all goals. Then, tactical work is outlined for each member on the team, ensuring that the individual work of every member contributes to the whole. Thus, grasping and controlling such dynamics represents the essence of program management, teamwork, and the path to achieving success at an agency level.

Managing multiple projects

Effective program management and project management are associated with managing multiple projects. In regard to this, these two types of roles are similar to ensuring team coordination and collaboration. It is different because project management has a focus on tactics, ensuring the strategic objectives are piled together for each individual project. Therefore, program management has the essence to look at wider perspectives, such as the strategic visioning of the multiple projects, to ensure organizational growth.

Considering their two major responsibilities, program management implies a wider functional capacity regarding authority at resource management and holistic program execution to align with wider business objectives. These two require good coordination and cooperation to manage several projects.

Stakeholder communication

Effective stakeholder communication is quite often seen at the confluence of program and project management. They are in the abilities of defining clear roles and responsibilities, strategic vision, and goals. The basis of good program execution is the collaboration and coordination of the team. There exist not only inherent similarities but also differences between program and project management. The requirements for both are numerous strategic planning, tactical work, and resource management. The greatest goal lies in the ability to pile business objectives in a line. That is why they foster team coordination for maximum efficiency.

Roles and responsibilities of a project manager


A project manager, under the umbrella of project management, carries out several roles and responsibilities central to organizational growth. Their primary duty involves the development and execution of a strategic vision for the project, regularly collaborating with the team to ensure alignment with business objectives.

Their responsibilities also span over tactical work, encompassing resource management, team coordination, and program execution. These may show similarities and differences with program management, but both are essential for achieving strategic objectives.

Planning and implementing individual projects

In project management, each member plays specific roles and responsibilities that contribute to achieving strategic objectives. From formulating a strategic vision, undertaking tactical work, and fostering collaboration, efficient project management drives organizational growth. It aligns with business objectives and involves team coordination and resource management.

Program management, in comparison, is concerned more broadly with overseeing and coordinating a group of related projects towards achieving program execution. While it shares similarities with project management - such as the need for coordination and collaboration - there are key differences, including a broader strategic focus and higher-level resource management.

Start your free trial of Bonsai management software today!
Related Articles