Difference Between a Program Manager and a Project Manager

Do you often get confused between a program manager and a project manager? Here is the difference between a program manager and a project manager. Read on to learn more about both managers and what makes them different from one another! Happy Reading!

Management plays an important role in the growth and success of any organization, and there are different managerial roles. Every managerial role has its own importance, and you can't ignore any of them. Currently, Program Managers and Project Managers are in high demand, and it's obvious because both managerial positions are significant for a company's success, productivity, and growth. But who are program managers and project managers, and what's the difference between these two high-level managerial roles? So, let's know everything about these managerial positions and their difference.

Who are Program Managers?

So, before you know about program managers, you have to learn about programs. A program is nothing but a broader version of projects. You can also call them a collection of small projects with the objective of increasing the company's growth, revenue, profit, and brand image. So, a program manager is a top official responsible for looking at a number of small projects under a big program. Their main responsibility is to design different programs considering the company's business approach, objectives and policies.

They make proper strategies to ensure the program's successful completion, hence giving the company the required output in the most efficient way. They are also responsible for designing the proper structure of various small projects and organizing them in an effective way to ensure a high completion rate.

The most important role of a project manager is planning. They plan long-term strategies, policies, and reports to make sure that the organization is on its way to success, huge profits and, most importantly, customer satisfaction. These policies and reports include budget, resource planning, time scheduling and possible future implications. They also suggest solutions for possible roadblocks in future.

A program manager is directly responsible for successfully completing several small and big projects under a program as they guide project managers and solve their issues. They ensure the optimum use of resources and everyone's time to ensure high productivity and less storage, ultimately ensuring more profits. They can add or remove projects under a program and have the authority to change multiple projects' technical and functional aspects.

Who are Project Managers?

Project managers also hold high-level positions, but they work under program managers. Program managers are the head of multiple project managers under a program, while a project manager is the head of the team working on a project. Their scope and power are limited to the project they are assigned, and they have the authority to increase or reduce the team as per requirement. They have the decision-making power, but they reach out to program managers for approval for major decisions.

A project manager works on the strategy and guidelines of the program manager, but they are responsible for making strategies for the successful completion of the project. They ensure the timely completion of different tasks and objectives under a project. Their role is also associated with planning, but their planning is limited to the project they are assigned. They prepared a complete and structured time schedule and assigned tasks to the team accordingly. This ensures efficiency as well as perfect time management.

From designing the project's roadmap to resource planning and making multiple reports to optimum budget planning, a project manager is the highest authority responsible for everything going inside and outside the project. Project managers guide their teams throughout the project and suggest improvements to achieve high productivity and efficiency. They also ensure that their team is getting everything they need to perform well, and thus they solve their issues on their own or approach higher authorities like program managers.

A project manager also needs technical knowledge to lead their team and improve the technical aspects of the project. They are also responsible for introducing new tools & techniques to ensure more and more profits. They have to continuously monitor projects' progress and do proper analysis, and based on that; they have to make proper solutions for possible future problems.

What is the Difference Between Project Managers and Program Managers?

As both are managerial positions, their role & responsibilities are almost similar. The only difference is their scope and power. A program manager designs a road map makes strategies, reports, and leads project managers. Similarly, a project manager designs road maps and strategies and leads teams. The only difference is that program managers work on multiple projects, while project managers fulfill their responsibilities for a single project. Here is the difference between a program manager and a project manager.

Factor Program Manager Project Manager
Designation Level One of the highest managerial authorities especially heads of departments. Head of a specific project.
Report They report to the company’s highest authority like CFO, CEO, and CMO. They report to Project Managers.
Scope Wide scope as multiple projects are assigned to them. Narrow only limited to a single project
Functionality Strategical Technical
Job Long term Short term
Importance Lead multiple projects and thus have more importance Lead single project hence have relatively less importance
Decision Making More decision-making power Limited decision-making power


Every managerial position is important, and the fundamentals of every managerial position are the same. The only difference is in their scope, authority, and decision-making power. The lower the manager’s post lowers the scope, power, and authority, and the higher the position higher the power, scope, and authority. Both the project manager and the program manager are high-level designations. The simple difference is program managers are the head or manager of project managers. Both have a direct impact on a company's success, growth, image, and customer satisfaction. Every manager has to give his best to be in the position and they play a very important role in the organization’s growth and development. They have managed employees, organizational activities, and other managerial and administrative functions.