Program management is a different kettle of fish altogether. Program management is the process of managing and integrating a portfolio of projects, some of which are going on at the same time and some linked in a sequence of product enhancements over a longer time period. In either case, the program manager's span of control is wider and broader than the project manager's responsibility. Program managers can be responsible for a long line of products and product enhancements in one program area over time, say over a 10-year period, transitioning from one project to another based on customer and market feedback. Program managers can also be responsible for many projects and project managers across programs or product areas, thus complicating the management process. Program managers often have responsibility for broad corporate product lines and markets across wide technical boundaries.
Program managers typically hire and supervise other project managers. They are responsible for developing the company's project manager workforce, building and advancing project managers into higher levels of responsibility. They coach project managers. Program managers serve as the interface between projects and broader company strategies and business plans; thus they are called on to communicate broad purpose to individual project managers and to report individual project results to corporate executives in high-level program reviews.
The complex, multiproject environment that program managers face requires different skills in managing information. The program manager cannot get lost in the details of one project or one project schedule or report, but must have an enterprise-wide perspective. Information on many projects must be managed so that the program manager can see the big picture and make the necessary trade-offs between projects, if necessary to resolve resource and priority problems. Program managers must be able to step away from project details, see the broader implications, and make decisions on the basis of corporate-wide considerations and impacts.
Program managers mix in the milieu of vice presidents and CEOs of both their corporations and those of the customer. They tend to integrate at high-levels, where decisions impact broad business performance, business-to-business relationships, workforce planning and management, regulatory issues, financial performance, stockholders, partnerships, and major supplier and contract issues. These factors often bring program managers into play with issues, which their single project managers may not fully understand, especially if they get in the way of achieving narrow project goals. This is the essence of program management; balancing between individual projects with broader performance issues and implications across projects.
There are many working definitions of a program manager. In Europe, the program manager is seen differently. The focus of most UK program managers is likely to be change and change management. This view says that the program manager has the broad perspective to be able to manage several projects aimed at changing the company in fundamental ways, across a wide variety of company activities and divisions.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.