Project Management is an organized approach to managing projects within the allotted resources to accomplish the planned objectives. To scale up their careers within or outside the organizations, Project Managers aim to add a skill set, get certifications, and aspire to take the next step.
One of the most immediate approaches is to strive for the transformation from being a project manager to program manager by reflecting upon:
Let us recap the general understanding of projects and programs, and throw some light on how different they are?
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Let us take a look at how the Project Management Book of Knowledge ( PMBOK ) defines the two terms.
Project Management -
“Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.”
Program Management -
“Program management focuses on interdependencies within projects and between projects and the program level to determine the optimal approach for managing them. As program management regardless of its domain, contains several projects, positions/roles of project management, so will also be part of program management.”
The program manager, therefore, is responsible for delivering the output/result product of the program, which is ultimately managing the portfolio of projects and programs.
They must coordinate with the teams or multiple project managers who are involved in managing their projects. The program manager must possess knowledge on the organizations' monetary strategies as the performance plays a decisive role in organizations’ financial health.
The key responsibilities of program managers include but not limited to:
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“Program management is the process of managing several related projects, often intending to improve an organization's Performance”. - Wikipedia
Few of the other roles and responsibilities of a program manager as follows:
|Program Manager||Project Manager|
|Plan program level activities||Plan project activities and their dependencies|
|Control all stages of the program||Control the project and manage project constraints|
|Manage risks and issues at the program level and delegate to concerned projects||Manage project risks and issues and report to program manager if necessary|
|Frame policies and procedures for the projects||Runs projects as per the set-in policies and procedures|
|Resolve resource conflicts||Use assigned resources|
|Outline program standards||Product/service delivery as per the agreed standards|
|Program Management||Project Management|
|Depend on an organization's' governance||Run-on project's governance|
|Ongoing-longer duration||Has a definite start and end|
|Has a direct impact on organizations' monetary performance||Less impact on organizations' balance sheet|
|Driven by organizations' strategy and influenced by market trends||Run-on change management|
|Encapsulates the scope of its program components||Has defined objectives and scope|
Transitioning from project to program management is not an easy process and takes time. This has many limitations, such as:
A Project Manager assigned to deliver the project against a set of pre-defined objectives and timelines, to move up in the hierarchy should look beyond these project management parameters. A change in mindset is required along with a strategic and business approach to move upwards in the organization.
Program managers adopt a strategic approach instead of a tactical approach. This change in mindset helps transition towards adopting new technologies, gather market trends, and understand the need for the role change. Program management is all about understanding the organizations’ business goals and executing those goals.
PMI offers 9 guiding principles that help in transitioning from project to program management. These are briefly explained below:
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The world of project management is changing now. The individuals who aspire to scale themselves to program managers need to possess a wide range of skills. They must leave behind the delivery concept and start embracing business concepts.
Project managers are required to establish a healthy relationship with their peers to scale up their careers. They must start understanding customer delivery rather than focusing on delivering a project alone. Instead of a tactical approach, it is important to adopt a strategic approach before being picked for higher responsibility. Hence, organizations should measure their key deliverables constantly to ensure their credibility to take up the new challenge.