Projects and programs are needed to push an organization’s goals forward. And behind every project or program is a manager working diligently to ensure everything runs efficiently. But what is the difference between program management and project management? What do project managers and program managers do?

Here’s what you need to know:

A program manager ensures groups of projects are carried out effectively and are following an organization’s goals. Those groups of projects are referred to as a program. In contrast, a project manager leads an individual project — rather than a group of endeavors.

A program manager’s duties may include the following:

A project manager’s responsibilities can include the following:

Program management entails maintaining a strategic plan and scheduling multiple different projects. These projects work in tandem to help an organization achieve its goals. With that in mind, a program manager must always consider the “big picture” in every situation. In addition to the duties I mentioned before, program management may also include:

Zippia also says most program managers (65%) work in the public sector — but program managers can be present in other sectors such as government, education, and private.

To better understand how project management works, you must first understand what qualifies as a project. While there is no concrete definition of a project concerning project management, PMI says projects are essentially “temporary efforts to create value through unique products, services, and processes.” A project manager may oversee the building of new software, executing relief efforts after a disaster, maintaining public highways, etc.

The difference between program management and project management is quite simple — program managers oversee a group of projects, while project managers oversee individual projects. The program manager ensures every project in a program agrees with an organization’s overall vision. The project manager focuses on specific activities that move the agenda forward.

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