Take the 2-minute tour ×
Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is a Program Manager a person who manages mutiple projects (under a single program) which are in turn managed by Project Managers?

Or is a Program Manager a person as defined by Joel Spolsky here.

NOTE: I am not referring to this.

share|improve this question
2  
You possibly need to differentiate between Programme Manager (where a programme is a bunch of projects) and a Program Manager (where a program is a bunch of computer code). Spelling matters. –  Jon Hopkins Nov 10 '10 at 13:54
    
@Jon Hopkins: +1 for pointing the difference. –  Kanini Nov 11 '10 at 2:34
    
Awesome document that I found here: dau.mil/pubscats/PubsCats/atl/2008_07_08/pei_ja08.pdf –  user97661 Jul 25 '13 at 6:23
    
FYI There are many versions of this question on pm.stackexchange.com –  Mike Weller Jul 25 '13 at 8:42
add comment

5 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I suppose the answer hinges on what the terms "Program" and "Project" mean.

According to Project Management Institute (PMI), The Standard for Program Management, 2nd Ed., "A Program is a group of related projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits and control NOT available from managing them individually. Programs may include elements of related work outside of the scope of the discreet projects in the program... Some projects within a program can deliver useful incremental benefits to the organization before the program itself has completed."

share|improve this answer
add comment

To add to @Robert's answer...

Different companies may use titles in different ways, so if you're asking because you want to know what a title means at a certain company, you may want to inquire on a case-by-case basis as not everyone will use the same reasoning.

share|improve this answer
    
No. This is not about job titles in an organization. I have worked at organizations where a Project Manager is not supposed to write code just because, well, he is a Project Manager although he may be interested in writing code by stretching himself. –  Kanini Nov 10 '10 at 1:47
add comment

The way I've seen it done ( may be fairly common in aerospace.. might be just my experience)

Program manager manages the program

A program has projects. (Often for specific customers)

So the program manager has to take a longer term view, guide things to be more strategic. "We're going to need that later". "Can't cut that corner". "Have to ship today, project must dovetail with other project that hasn't been announced to rest of company yet"

The project manager worries about THIS project.

I've seen the Program manager as basically the Project manager's boss.

It REALLY helps if they don't fight.

share|improve this answer
add comment

It really appears to depend on the company.

At Sun, they had program managers who were essentially interfaces between the technical teams and the bureaucracy. One program manager would be assigned to several such teams and would make sure that, say, the required information is passed to the various architecture boards, open-source licensing policies are maintained, and they would convene regular status meetings of "program teams" that included the technical teams plus associated marketing and other folks.

This usage is perhaps vaguely related to some of the other explanations given here, but you can see that it really depends.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Michael Lopp wrote an article recently with a comparison I quite liked.

First, some definition. Project manager, product manager, and program manager. Let’s clear that up. A project manager is responsible for shipping a product, whereas a product manager is responsible for making sure the right product is shipped. A program manager is an uber-mutated combination of both that usually shows up to handle multiple interrelated projects like, say, an operating system. Different companies use the names differently, but for this article, project = ship the product, product = ship the right product, and program = ship many interrelated products, usually at the same time. Got it?

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.