Program Manager vs Project Manager: Key Differences

Adriana Girdler

The differences between program and project managers (and why you need to know this) Are you wondering the differences between a program manager and a …

The differences between program and project managers (and why you need to know this)

Are you wondering the differences between a program manager and a project manager?

Whether you’re going into one of those roles, or are working with someone in your organization who has one of those roles, it’s important to know the difference.

It’s quite a simple explanation, and that’s what I’m here to help you with.

First, you need to understand the difference between a project and a program… So, let’s start there.

What is a project vs program?

If you want to learn the difference between a program manager and a project manager, it starts here.

A PROJECT is a temporary single initiative that generally has constraints around resources, budget, and time. It also has a clear start and end date to deliver a specific outcome.

A PROGRAM is made up of several interconnected projects that build off one another to achieve a more long-term business goal or strategy.

But are the roles different?

You can probably already see a glimpse of why the roles of program and project managers are different.

Whether you’re going into one of these roles, or have someone in your organization in these roles, or you’re on a project and just want to understand the difference, it’s important to know the specifics of how program managers and project managers are different.

There are a couple more things I want to tell you about to make sure you’re really clear on this topic. So, make sure you head over to YouTube with me so we can chat about it really quick!

No matter what role you’re going into, you’ll want to consider taking my SLAY Project Management online course where I show you step-by-step how to successfully manage a project, plus you get access to every template you will need, along with detailed video instructions on how to fill them out.


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Adriana Girdler is a project manager, productivity specialist, entrepreneur, professional speaker, facilitator, visioning wizard, and author. As President of CornerStone Dynamics, Adriana is one of Canada’s prominent business productivity and project management specialists—helping both individuals and businesses do what they do, only better. She is a certified master black belt lean six sigma with over 20 years’ experience improving how companies work.

She also holds both PMP (project management professional) and CET (certified engineering technologist) designations. She’s a Tedx speaker, as well as a HuffPost and Thrive Global contributor. She has been interviewed on Global, CBC, CTV, CHCH, 680News Radio, Newstalk 1010, Sirius XM and published in the Globe and Mail and numerous industry magazines. WANT ADRIANA'S FREE ONLINE TRAINING? In 45 min, learn Adriana's 5 project management secrets she use on EVERY project. Sign up for the Free Webinar here: THE FAB FIVE FUNDAMENTALS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

SLAY Project Management

Online Course

5 Sections and 24 step-by-step HOW TO Videos! The only 5-hour on-line course that teaches you the PRACTICAL side of project management. This course will guide you step-by-step on HOW to successfully run a project and provides you with all the templates and tips you need to be successful.

Fab 5 Fundamentals

Free Training

Are you striving for successful projects, but get overwhelmed figuring out what elements of project management to focus on for the best results? In the Fab Five Fundamentals of Project Management, you’ll learn the five things you need to do on EVERY project to bring it to success.

Why Projects Fail?

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If you're new to projects or need a refresher, here's a guide of all the things I learned during my journey. Project success is about knowing how to navigate and stay clear of roadblocks, issues and problems. Understand the top 10 reasons why projects fail and how to avoid them.

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