Program management includes all activities necessary for the management of projects. It consists of the overall responsibility in the project for organization, technology, staff/team, tools and products, initialization, definition, planning, control and completion.
The Program Manager is thus organizationally, and as a discipline, a level above the Project Manager.
Project Managers usually act tactically. Their task is to deliver a defined service on time and within the budget. Program Managers act more strategically, have the bigger picture more in mind and work on strategies that will keep the entire company on a safe footing in the future.
While individual projects are targeted at a specific deadline, programs run over a longer period of time, often years. Long-term strategies and constant adaptation to external circumstances are therefore essential.
3. Integration into corporate controlling
The controlling of programs is often more closely tied to the company’s financial planning and evaluation. While project controlling is often carried out on the basis of the project plan, programs require regularly scheduled evaluations, e.g. quarterly.
While projects are provided with a fixed budget, the cost management of programs is usually much more complex. Program Managers are often responsible for revenues and costs that are critical to the success of the entire organization.
5. Management Involvement
Programs are usually controlled by a high-level management board that sets a direction and exercises a control function. Program Managers must be able to act on an equal footing with this body and resolve disagreements. The Program Manager must also ensure that the board sets realistic targets and is responsible for achieving them.
Projects may have a similar management involvement, but often at a lower level.
6. Change Management
In each project, changes should occur according to a defined process. In a program, this looks even more complex: programs are influenced by the corporate strategy and usually run over a long period of time. As a result, they are often subject to changes in markets or corporate objectives. Due to its the large impact, change management at the program level requires a high level of leadership.