Difference between Project Management and Program Management

There is confusion between the term project management and program management. Although, the words seem similar there are some differences.

Project management is the act of creating plans and managing resources in order to accomplish a project. A project is a scheduled undertaking for the purpose of creating a product or service. Program management, on the other hand, is the act of creating and managing multiple projects, most of the projects are usually related to one another.

Project management is usually short-lived with specific time constraints while program management is an ongoing process in order to achieve the goals and objectives.

The job of a project manager usually involves working on finite projects or objectives. The program manager works more often with strategy.

A project management team works to identify the triple constraint of time, scope and cost of a project. Then, they plan and report on the delivery of the project. While the project is being accomplished the triple constraint is reviewed. At it’s close, the project management team will review and report on the accomplishment of the project.

A program management team works to identify the mission, projects to be accomplished, and it’s close. The team provides support for the requirements of the projects. They monitor the program plan and keep track of information within the specific projects. After the completion of the project, it is reviewed and documented.

41 thoughts on “Difference between Project Management and Program Management

  1. dear

    i was confused the different between program and project managament so that i need to clarifying you

  2. Thanks for these clarifications.
    I think even in terms of funding, programmes are in most of the cases multifunded while projects are single funded and in terms of scope, we can see that projects are often single sector oriented whereas programmes are multisector oriented.

    Thanks.

  3. It some how hard to differentiate the term due to the fact that one is ongoing process while other have specific time to be complished.

    Thanks in Advanced
    Henry

  4. My understanding of the two terms, i.e project management and program management is that “progect management is doing a project right, where as program management is doing the right project”.

    Regards,

    awad mezwaghi

  5. Absolutely right, however, I did not quote this since I do not know who is the creator of this famous sentence 🙂

  6. I was in trouble my self once i met with a question in my test asking to give explanation of the term”triple constraint triangle in project management”, but the issue is now solved by the explanation i received from your website. thank you so much.

  7. Program in general refers to alligning multiple vertical teams with different goals into a single vision. Key activities include gap finding and resolution, guiding multiple teams towards same vision and conflct management.

  8. Thanks for the availability of the information. It makes reserach and the search for info much more easier.

  9. that is good, I spend much of time conducting a research on differences and similarities but couldn’t get a satisfactory information.

    Thanks again

  10. This is somewhat simplistic explanation. Projects can be of any size. Bangalore Metro, Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 etc are multi-billion dollar projects and can have hundred programs/projects under them. Remember projects can have sub-projects and so on.

    Program management generally is tied strategy and operations to certain function/verticle. It will involve understanding function end to end, projects identification/prioritization, budget planning, monitoring and evolving multiple projects to longer term goals and vision of the function.

  11. wow, it has been a long journey for me to understand the difficerence between program and project management even though my work environment is structured that way. its so eye-openging to understand these two

  12. i’am confused of the two words and which one is eligeble for more funds and has long life span.also which name is appropriete for a development organisation,i.e ABC DEVELOPMENT PROJECT OR PROGRAM

  13. The explanation has made it very clear and it will help clear misunderstanding about what my designation should be i.e program manager instead of project manager.

  14. The explanation is really pleasing. People in the know keep on confussing the two. It has always been perceived to be one and the same function. It’s rather clear now.

  15. Thanks for your explanation, This is interesting topic for me. I think program is contain of many projects.

    Thanks again,

  16. Thanks for your explanation, I think the collection of different projects are called program

    Thanks again,

  17. Typically we will face with Program Manager, projec Manager and Portfolio Manager in Large Scale Projects and not small in budget and duration.

    Project manager is running, managing and controling specific project in details but program manager is running more than a project in the same time and not in very details. Project managers are feeding to the program managers informations about the cost, schedule, Risk, etc.
    Meanwhile, Portfolio manager always in thinking about the ways to invest on the project and future incomes by mixing different projects in one project.
    For example, there is some fund to dig a tunnel for water inside the city. A smart portfolio manager will run some campaign to add more investor for funding and also dealing with other utilities provider like power and telephone to use this tunnel for their purposes for paying some annual fees.

    Briefly, in small projects there is only one man show and called project manager.

    Cheers,
    Mike

  18. Thanks alot!! had a same confusion, and had verity of answers from the different resources. This presis answer classified the clear understanding b/w these both.

  19. Project Managers are quite numerous and can easily be educated to do tactical workplans, budgets, etc. Program Managers are enterprise-wide thinking strategists, and the exceptional ones are very hard to come by.

  20. Thanks for this.

    Question-so can a PM apply for a program manager job? Are there any classes to be taken to be a program manager?

  21. Very nicely explained! while I knew in my head the differences, having it in front of me with the choice of words you used, helped quite a bit. Thank you!

Leave a Comment