Program managers and project managers are both integral members of a team and are each responsible for coordinating multiple projects or tasks. However, the two roles have important differences in their responsibilities and approaches to managing work. Understanding these differences can help you determine which role is best suited for your next project or job opportunity.

The difference is pretty straightforward.

The primary difference is that Project Management is centered around planning and successfully completing one specific project, while Program Management looks at delivering multiple projects in a way that supports the overall goals of an organization.

Program Managers look at the big picture, meaning they’re concerned with everything from how successful a project will be in terms of its goals to how much time it will take to complete and what skills are required for each team member. Project Managers manage a specific project and are responsible for delivering the end product in a timely fashion. They oversee all aspects of their project, including time, cost and quality.

Both roles can be challenging depending on the scope of your project or program but they both require strong leadership and communication skills.

When to hire a Program Manager vs. a Project Manager

While both roles oversee projects and facilitate communication between team members and key stakeholders, there are some situations where you might need to hire a program manager and other situations when you will need a project manager. Here's what to look for in each situation:

  • If your organization is struggling to keep track of project details, or properly assign and manage resources, it may be time to hire a project manager.
  • If you're looking for a strategy and execution leader with deep knowledge about your organizational capabilities who can prioritize projects and optimize resource capacity, you may want to hire a program manager.


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