Project Management vs Program Management

Project Management - Emeritus

Projects and programs both are the core elements of any business enterprise and so are project management and program management. Understanding the difference and similarities between program and project management would assist you to navigate a career and boost your knowledge in any of these domains.
In this article, you will learn about the following:

Starting with the basic comparison between a project and a program.

Difference Between Project and Program

A program is a group of various smaller projects that depend on one another for completion. Being huge, a program is commonly categorised into elements like goals, planning and implementation processes. A program is commonly considered a long-term goal with a flexible deadline.
On the other hand, projects are smaller and often come with predefined expenses, deadlines, and resource specifications. These are short-term goals to fulfil a bigger goal, which the company aims at.

What is Project Management?

Project management is all about managing the operations of a particular project within a set program. It includes:

  • Defining the project goals.
  • Underlying the project requirements.
  • Estimating the budget for the project.
  • Scheduling different tasks.
  • Assigning the task within the team.
  • Communicating the project status to the higher management.

What is Program Management?

It is the process of managing programmes that are mapped to business objectives that enhance the performance of an organisation.

Project Management vs Program Management: Fundamental Differences

The significant differences between program management and project management are as follows:

Factors Project Management Program Management
Focus Focuses on the management of a particular project. Focuses on the management of the different projects involved in the completion of the program.
Objective The main objective is to complete the assigned project within the predefined deadline, budget, and resources.


The main objective is to build a strategy for the successful implementation of different projects to reach the set goal.


Deadlines Projects come with specified deadlines.


Programs do not have a specific deadline. This is due to the reason that the program’s deadline keeps on varying depending on the completion of the linked projects.


Scope In project management, the scope depends on individual projects and typically takes in the professionals and clients involved.


The scope of program management is larger when compared to project management. The program’s scope includes the company’s goal, associated employees, and clients.


Costs Projects have smaller budgets when compared to programs because projects are a part of a bigger program. Also, the budget for a project is derived from the linked program budget.


Programs generally contain a department’s complete operational projects. Programs budget are generally high as they must support numerous projects within the year.


Limits The prime limitation of a project includes budgets, timelines, and resources.


Programs have lesser limitations when compared to projects. The fewer limitation comprises approval from shareholders and clients.



Difference Between Program and Project Management

You read about the various difference between program and project management in terms of objectives, scope, deadlines, etc. Here’s the difference in roles and responsibilities.

Program Manager Roles and Responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities of program managers focus on meeting the challenges encountered by the team while going for production. Some common of them are:

  • Making strategic decisions and mitigating risks in ongoing programs.
  • Connecting with team members, understanding their problems, and coming up with a solution.
  • Reviewing and evaluating a portfolio and identifying risk and improvement possibilities.
  • Connecting with project members and ensuring the smooth flow of work.
  • Taking required actions to minimise or reduce risks in the program.
  • Handling funding and resources in collaboration with other project managers.
  • Connecting with stakeholders to understand the broader context of the program.
  • Communicating the insights and overall landscape to the program teams.
  • Analysing multiple options and taking strategic decisions for the overall success of the program.

Project Manager Roles and Responsibilities

A typical project manager’s roles and responsibilities include:

  • Creating a plan for specific projects and communicating opportunities with the team.
  • Tracking the status of a project and determining its delivery on time and within budget.
  • Reviewing queries, monitoring existing duties, and streamlining project flow.
  • Maintaining the quality and reliability of the project from beginning to end.

Program managers mostly hold experience in project management as well. They can advance their management skills to evolve as program managers ultimately.

Although both professions have some similarities, key differences lie in the management hierarchy, strategic importance, and the level of their financial impact on the company.

However, program and project managers are equally important in an organisation and require specific skills and qualifications to ensure a position in the developing management pool.

Emeritus India can help sharpen your strategic product management and development skills. Our product management courses, offered in collaboration with prestigious institutes will help you build products that fit market needs by applying pricing strategies and addressing customer needs.


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