Programme Management Vs. Project Management (Definitions)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 15 March 2023

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A company may start a project to achieve a tactical objective, but all the projects within the organisation may respond to a business strategy. In programme management, a programme comprises a group of projects that a professional can supervise to ensure they respond to a company's goals. Understanding the differences between programme management and project management may help you explore a career in these fields or know what to expect if you are part of a project. In this article, we compare programme management vs. project management, explore their benefits and discuss the responsibilities involved in these two disciplines.

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Comparing Programme Management Vs. Project Management

If you want to pursue a career in one of these two professional fields, you may benefit from comparing programme management vs. project management. Programme management generally focuses on handling and overseeing multiple projects simultaneously. Large companies often employ this type of management because they have several dissimilar projects that require coordination to keep them following the company's objectives.

Project management concentrates on planning and achieving the goals and purposes of one project. Typically, project managers can participate in the different stages of a project, such as planning, budgeting, scheduling or monitoring and they can perform their activities in large, medium or small organisations. You can review how these two types of management differ through the following definitions:

What is programme management?

Programme management is a strategic function to oversee, organise and coordinate a group of projects, especially large-scale initiatives, connected by the company's vision or by their influence on a specific area within the organisation. For example, all the marketing campaigns that a firm is planning to launch during the first quarter of the year can become a group of projects that may need a programme manager. The primary purpose of these professionals is to maintain the different projects working towards a common goal, which usually benefits the entire organisation.

Several teams working on different projects in the same company can benefit from good project management, as they can perform their activities within the same organisational framework. This type of management can also add synergy, business vision and more visibility to individual projects, as it represents an instance that teams can use to share resources, knowledge, experience and ideas. This can be extremely helpful for professionals working in large corporations because it can help them interact with colleagues throughout different projects and gain visibility, which can lead to a better job position.

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What is project management?

Project management is a tactical function to plan, handle and oversee an individual project. This type of management focuses on setting goals, the scope of work, resources and deadlines within the project. It is beneficial for a manager to understand these points before beginning a project. For example, to develop a wireless keyword for a tech manufacturer, it is essential for the team to know the budget allocated to develop the tool, the project's timeframe and the role of each team member. Usually, a project manager also knows all the stages a project might achieve to produce the expected results.

A project manager generally brings order and protocols to a development. They have the power to solve problems, set milestones, demand more commitment and efficiency from team members and supervise all the activities performed within the project. Currently, these professionals can do this using project management software, which are computer programs that can link all the employees that are participating in the activity. These programs often speed up the project as they can analyse data and warn the managers in real-time about potential obstacles, delays and resources needed.

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Benefits Of Programme Management And Project Management

An organisation and its employees can benefit from the two business functions, as both are extremely important to manage several team members and numerous activities. For example, a car manufacturer may require a project manager to handle all the scope of work for a new truck the firm wants to produce and sell only in Bombay.

The same organisation can also need a programme manager to oversee all the truck projects and ensure that all the products have the features their potential customers prefer. This can be crucial for the company if they want to sell a particular truck model in the appropriate market, which they can determine by analysing a large amount of data. Here are other benefits these two disciplines can provide:

Advantages of an excellent programme management

Managing several projects simultaneously requires experience, focus and a clear long-term vision of the business. It is this clarity the element that allows a manager to interconnect dissimilar projects and keep a group of project managers working towards a shared objective. Here are the benefits this type of management can deliver:

  • Accuracy: Programme managers can gain commitment from multiple projects managers to comply with deadlines, inform about their expenses, deliver data and reports and work according to organisational protocols and legal regulations. By doing this, these professionals can monitor all the main stages of each project, reallocate resources and create a database with recommendations that all project managers can review.

  • Alignment: To be able to coordinate multiple teams with different interests, it is necessary for a programme manager to ensure all teams work together towards the same business objectives. They can do this by being clear about the purpose of each project, their importance within the organisation and the upper management expectations.

  • Assessments: A company may expect from a programme manager an excellent ability to assess a variety of situations that may affect the results of a project. It is crucial for a programme manager to anticipate potential risks that can veer one or more projects, and evaluate possible solutions and their impact on the business goal.

Related: What Is A Programme Manager? (With Duties, Salary And Skills)

Advantages of an excellent project management

Project management usually employs tactical responses that aim to complete a project. These short-term plans are essential to complete several activities that often lead to the project's conclusion. This type of management aims to increase teamwork and ease the work relationships among team members, provide them with clarity about the project and some of its activities and maintain all tasks running to meet deadlines. Here are the benefits of project management:

  • Clarity: A project manager can assign team members specific roles, tools and responsibilities, so all employees involved in the project know their duties, resources and targets.

  • Teamwork: Due to all team members can recognise what the ultimate goal is, a project manager can encourage them to share resources or help one another complete tasks and solve problems that can affect the entire project.

  • Collaboration: All the data that a project may produce, can be useful for project managers to encourage collaboration among team members. They can do this by providing a database where team members can review all the information submitted and make decisions based on this data.

  • Transparency: By constantly monitoring all the activities within the project, project managers can produce and deliver reports to clients and upper management members. This can show the status of the project, facilitate any change that the client may require or reallocate resources to speed up the project.

Programme Manager Vs. Project Manager

Both professionals are essential to achieving the company's goals because they are responsible for the long-term and short-term projects of the firm. Here are the responsibilities of the two positions:

What does a programme manager do?

These professionals are responsible for ensuring that all projects within the organisation align with its business objectives, strategy and vision. They usually manage and lead a group of project managers that deliver reports regarding the status of each development. Here are more duties for programme managers:

  • Check in on the progress, challenges and milestones of each project within their programme.

  • Ensure all project managers have the resources needed to complete their developments.

  • Report to the upper management members the progress and status of each project and address their concerns.

  • Provide project managers with protocols and a decision-making framework they can use to solve issues within their projects.

  • Connect project managers with upper management members and deliver recommendations and recognitions.

What does a project manager do?

A project manager usually performs administrative responsibilities that go from reviewing current procedures within a project to establishing priorities to meet deadlines. These professionals can delegate work, assign responsibilities and encourage collaboration among the staff. Here are more project manager duties:

  • Design, plan and facilitate a full understanding of the project's scope of work.

  • Help the company prepare a budget for the project and ensure it has enough resources to reach the final stage.

  • Gather the data produced during the project to generate reports about the progress of the project and the challenges the team might be facing.

  • Enforce quality controls to ensure the project is following procedures and regulations.

  • Participate in hiring and interviewing processes to ensure the project has the professionals requested.


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