A lot of people struggle to understand the difference between project management and program management. Luckily, a clear explanation is enough to dispel the confusion.
Program Management vs. Program Management
We have covered project management extensively in previous posts. To sum it up, a project is a series of tasks with a limited scope and a defined deadline. The job of a project manager is to ensure that the project is delivered on time and within schedule.
Think of a project as a line made up of different segments. The ends of the line represent the beginning and end dates of the project, while each segment represents a task. For example, a line representing the project “create a song” would be made up of the segments “craft melody,” “write lyrics,” “rehearse,” and “record song.”
Keep in mind this visualization, as it will come in handy to understand program management.
A Program Is a Series of Projects
Now, if a project is a single line that represents a task, a program is a series of lines that run parallel to each other. In other words, a program is a series of projects.
To stick with the music metaphor, if a song is a project, an album is a program. In a program, there are many projects (songs) running at the same time toward many goals that are often open-ended.
While the goal of a project is often limited and clear-cut, a program has a broader scope. In our example, the objective of the project “create a song” is very specific. The program “create an album,” on the other hand, may have several goals, for example:
- Reprise themes from previous albums
- Lay the groundwork for future work
- Mark a change in the artistic trajectory of the musician
- Serve as an answer to the work of other artists
Learn More About Project Management
This discipline is an exciting field with myriad real-world applications. Below are some previous posts you can read to learn more about this fascinating topic.
- Do good design engineers make good project managers?
- 3 Reasons to choose a career in engineering design
- How is engineering design different from other types of design?
- A basic glossary of engineering design: part 1and part 2
- Engineering design for children: 5 useful benefits
Darnell Technical Services is an engineering design firm with extensive experience in a vast array of projects.
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