Program Manager vs Project Manager: What is the Difference?

Rachel Chalk
January 10, 2023
3 minute read

What are the differences between a project manager and a program manager?

Think of a program manager as the title, and the project manager as the sub-title. Whilst a program manager is in charge of achieving far-reaching goals, a project manager is in charge of accomplishing the smaller steps to achieve that goal. Although both program managers and project managers ultimately work towards the same cause, their qualifications and responsibilities differ.

Let’s take a further look.

 

What does a program manager do?

Program managers work strategically to ensure that entire programs, i.e. a series of projects work to enhance the growth of an organization.

A program manager essentially has a managerial role and works closely with executive management to strategize on overall goals for an organization. Once a goal has been defined, program managers will go on to oversee a series of projects, designed to help achieve these goals.

 

What does a project manager do?

A project manager is in charge of the success of individual projects. They plan, coordinate, and control the details of a project, as well as resolve issues that crop up along the way.

A project vs program manager is the go-to person for the project team for problem-solving, discussing ideas, and handing in project deliverables.

 

How do program managers and project managers work together?

Let’s illustrate the relationship between program managers and project managers with an example:

A company wants to revamp its brand, which includes changing its brand voice, messaging, logo, and color scheme.

The program manager in charge of this program will create a generic roadmap consisting of all the various projects required to achieve this brand makeover. The program manager will also set goals for the projects to align with, e.g. a goal might be to give the company a lighter tone of voice and more character. Additionally, the program manager will negotiate with the client on things like project scope and budget.

The project manager, on the other hand, will be tasked with overseeing the individual projects of the program, such as schedule, project scope, and resources. They will take care of the nitty-gritty as it transpires and report back to the program manager regarding the project’s budget health, deliverables, and anything important that crops up.

 

Program Manager vs. Project Manager Skills

Program manager skills:

  • Planning skills-the ability to plan a program so that it can be achieved in sensible steps.

  • Negotiation skills-program managers need to be able to convince others that their plan is a good one. If they are going to take charge of a program, they need to get the relevant people on board first.

  • Business knowledge-program managers need to know how businesses run so that they can make strategic decisions.

  • Analytical skills-there is lots of data to be dealt with in program management, so being able to understand and analyze data is an important skill.

  • Communication skills-program managers need to be able to communicate successfully with stakeholders and project managers.

 

Project manager skills:

  • The ability to implement project management software, like Workamajig.

  • Leadership skills- project managers lead teams and the better the leader, the better the project potential.

  • Organizational skills-from organizing the project team, to coordinating timelines, to keeping track of budgets, project managers must be very organized.

  • Communication skills-project managers do a lot of communicating, with both team members and executives, and the success of a project depends on the quality of team communication.

  • Risk management skills-for a project not to get derailed because of a last-minute mishap, project managers need to be capable of planning for risks and managing them when they occur.

Skills for both program managers and project managers:

  • Organizational skills
  • Communication skills
  • Business knowledge

 

Program manager vs project manager salary

Program Manager:

According to Salary.com, program managers in the United States earn a median annual salary of $143,402, whereas according to Indeed, the average annual salary is quite a bit lower, at $63,624. This discrepancy highlights the fact that program manager salaries differ enormously, depending on the company and level of professionalism.

Project Manager:

Salary.com says the average annual project manager salary is $136, 506, whereas Indeed holds it at an annual $76,069.

Although there is a wide range in the project manager vs program manager salary, it’s clear that program managers do earn more, which is reflective of the seniority of a program vs. project manager role.

 

How can Workamajig help Program Managers and Project Managers?

Whether you're an aspiring program manager or project manager, or you are one already, Workamajig has your back.

From project management features, to resourcing software, task and time management, accounting, business intelligence, and CRM software, Workamajig is your #1 success propeller!

 

All your project management needs in one place!



Easy task tracking and automatic time tracking

 

Know exactly where your profits stand

 

Resource smart with Workamajig’s end-to-end resourcing software



Run your agency on hard data, not best guesses



Stop opportunities from falling through the cracks with Workamajig’s seamless CRM processes

 

 Program Manager or Project Manager, you’ll love ‘em both with Workamajig!





Related Posts

Run Better Projects Sign up for our free project management resources.

Get all our templates, tips, and fresh content so you can run effective, profitable, low-stress projects in your agency or team.