Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Program Manager


Definition: A program manager is a strategic project-management professional whose job is to help oversee and coordinate the various projects, products, and other strategic initiatives across an organization.

What is a Program Manager?

A program manager’s role can include:

  • Coordinating multiple projects and reconciling the interdependencies among them
  • Providing strategic guidance to the company’s project managers
  • Facilitating communication among a program’s cross-functional team

What Does a Program Manager Do?

To understand what a program manager’s role entails, we first need to define what we mean by “program”.

In an organizational context, a program refers to a group of related projects (or a combination of projects and programs) that together support a strategic business initiative. This initiative could include: launching a product, implementing a new sales process, or opening a new location.

The program manager’s job is to take a high-level view of the entire program, and strategically guide project managers to ensure they are all working effectively toward the program’s objective.

Then each individual project that falls under a program’s umbrella is coordinated by a project manager.

The Project Management Institute describes the role program manager as essentially a super project manager. You can also think of a program manager as a meta-project manager, strategically directing all of a program’s interconnected projects simultaneously.

Here’s how the Project Management Institute describes the day-to-day responsibilities of a program manager:

  • Daily program management throughout the program lifecycle
  • Define the program governance
  • Plan the overall program and monitor the progress
  • Manage the program’s budget
  • Manage risks and issues and take corrective measurements
  • Coordinate the projects and their interdependencies
  • Manage and utilize resources across projects
  • Manage stakeholders’ communication
  • Align deliverables to the program’s outcome
  • Manage the main program documents

The Program Manager: a Strategically Invaluable Role

While project managers focus on the many details required to complete a single project, and product managers focus on the strategic direction of the products they represent, program managers can gain a unique strategic view in an organization. They can see the goals, risks, available resources, budgetary limits, and other important aspects of every major company initiative simultaneously.

When they use this unique vantage point and insight to guide programs in the most strategically advantageous way, program managers can provide long-term value for the vision and direction of the company. Any organization juggling more than a single project at a time will benefit from a program manager.