In many organizations, there is little differentiation between what most stakeholders view as projects versus programs. Often, when there is a desired outcome needed, people are quick to assume a project can be spun up without fully understanding whether it is truly a project or actually a program.
A project is a temporary endeavor that drives change and has a definitive start and end date. In most cases, a project is focused on creating a service, product, or result. Projects can be of any size or content.
A Project Manager is responsible for managing the scope (deliverables), resources, schedule, and budget. All of this must be managed within guidelines set by the stakeholders of the project.
Like projects, programs are temporary endeavors that drive change and have a definitive start and end date. Unlike projects, programs contain two or more projects with the same strategic goal. Once all projects within a program are complete, the program is considered complete.
A Program Manager is responsible for ensuring the various projects within a program stay aligned to the business strategy. The Program Manager is responsible for managing dependencies between the projects within a program, as well as for removing projects from the program if they don’t align or bring value to the program.
The main difference between projects and programs is specificity. Programs refer to a collection of projects to create an output, whereas a project refers to a singular endeavor that produces a specific output.
|Components||A program’s components are projects.||A project’s components are smaller tasks or activities.|
|Team-size||Programs have larger teams and consider outcomes more holistically.||Projects usually consist of small groups working together.|
|Duration||Programs tend to be longer in duration and are usually completed in multiple phases.||Projects are shorter in duration and are usually completed in a single phase.
|Success||A program’s success can be measured by its ability to meet the needs of all beneficiaries or stakeholders.||A project’s success is usually determined by its resource management, time and quality.|
Finding the right balance between projects and programs can be critical to a company’s success. Now that you know the difference between them, hopefully, you can be more empowered in your company’s strategic planning. Finally, if your organization needs help with any aspect of project or program management, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d love to help you get started.
Business Analyst/Project Manager
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