Project Management vs Program Management

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Category: Business and Industry

Date Submitted: 09/17/2012 04:41 PM

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Many enterprise IT organizations are tackling large, complex efforts that combine the delivery of software elements, new and changed business models, and overall changes to organizational structure and capabilities. Typically these efforts involve several parallel projects, and managers are finding that "traditional" project management approaches fall short for such undertakings. Consequently, many IT professionals are turning to the substantial body of experience, and the smaller body of documentation, that supports the discipline of program management. This discipline describes principles, strategies, and desirable results for managing large-scale efforts comprising parallel projects.

This article considers five major aspects of program management:

• Governance: Defining roles and responsibilities, and providing oversight

• Management: Planning and administering both projects and the overall program

• Financial management: Implementation of specific fiscal practices and controls

• Infrastructure: The program office, technology, and other factors in the work environment supporting the program effort

• Planning: Activities that take place at multiple levels, with different goals. The program plan is not a traditional plan

We will take a closer look at each of these aspects, contrast them with similar aspects of project management, and outline for each the effort and results required to achieve success.

Program governance

Program governance is the aspect of the discipline that creates both the structure and practices to guide the program and provide senior-level leadership, oversight, and control. Strategically, it encompasses the relationship between the oversight effort and the enterprise's overall business direction. It also encompasses all the decision-making roles and responsibilities involved in executing the program effort.

Projects are typically governed by a simple management structure. The project manager is responsible for day-to-day...