SAMS Blog

Project Management vs. Program Management

Comparing program management and project management is similar to comparing the forest to the trees that comprise it. Program management encompasses multiple projects, whereas project management drills down to the smallest details of a specific initiative. In smaller businesses, program management and project management may be effectively indistinguishable. In larger organizations, they can be vastly different from one another. Either way, understanding the distinction between the two is important for a growing business.

Keeping Control of Operations through Better Project Management

Project management occurs on a case-by-case basis for each business initiative. Projects have to have a clear start date and end date -- and they are designed to fulfill specific goals for the organization. A project manager has to be able to identify a path towards these goals while mitigating potential roadblocks. This manager will often work closely with their team and will require fine-tuned interpersonal skills.

A company's day-to-day operations hinge upon successful project management. This is designed to guarantee that projects end in a timely fashion, don't exceed budgets, and satisfactorily fulfill their goals. At the same time, however, project managers generally do not interact with other project managers; each project operates independently of the other. This is where program managers enter in.

Creating a Broad Spectrum View through Program Management

Program management is the continuous process of managing multiple projects throughout the business. Unlike project management, program management does not end: it is a system of protocols and procedures that control the operations of the business. Program management becomes absolutely critical for larger organizations, especially in terms of resource management. A program manager will ensure that each project has what it needs to succeed, which can require that resources be moved to where they are most needed. For smaller businesses, the role of program manager is often fulfilled by the owner themselves.

Many projects may have inter-dependencies depending on their nature. One project could require that another be completed first, while others could work in tandem with each other. It is the program management system that will ensure that these individual projects are progressing as they should, and that an issue with one project will not spill into another. A program manager often has to interface directly with numerous individuals: project managers, team leaders, and upper management. Program managers also need to be more conscientious about the business itself and its ultimate financial goals.

Integrating Project Management and Program Management Strategies

Understandably, both project management and program management need to work well together. In order to better integrate these two separate operations, there need to be reliable reporting systems between the two. Project managers will need to be able to communicate their needs effectively to program managers, while program managers will need to be able to give project managers what they need to succeed. Ideally, both project managers and program managers will be able to successfully manage and align their goals.

Project managers and program managers are both incredibly important components to a business -- but not every business has the expertise necessary to engage them in a useful way. Strategy and Management Services, Inc. offers complete program management and project management services, to get your business on the right path to success.

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