If you are working as a project manager in your current organization, your next expectation should be to see yourself in the position of a senior project manager or program manager. It is not a magic that you will be automatically promoted to that level. There must be some potentiality in you to go to the next level. First of all, you need to know the actual work of program manager and then try to compare it with your current task – mind you, there could be so many differences with your current task and that of a program manager. Program managers are senior managers who control program rather that a single project.
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As a project manager if you are handling your project using the best methodologies and practices, remember a program manager is doing the same thing with multi projects. So, it is very imperative to understand the main differences between project management and program management. Project management is an application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to accomplish the project goals while program management is a group of related projects and program activities managed in a coordinated way to get the benefits which you could not get if you manage them separately. So, now you can understand what is program management and how it differs from your core work i.e., project management.
For moving to program management position, the project managers needs to be very good in decision making in his/her project, a good project leader who understands the project requirement accurately and most importantly s/he can manage a huge team smartly. In project management, you are taking care of one project with resources allocated with this project only but in case of program management you need to take care of more than one project in such a way that you could smartly use the resource pool so that overall organization could be benefited. So, it’s a big task of handling so many people in much coordinated way so that it could benefit the organization. Now, you will be very eager to know what extra activities a project manager should do or what extra knowledge or training required to become a program manager. Few points are as follows:
1.Education and Training
For a program management position, you need to focus on some specified certifications such as PMP® or PgMP®. PMP® is for a project management position whereas PgMP® is for program-level position. Though these credentials never guarantee you that after gaining these credentials you will be promoted as program manager or so. It is up to you - how you are using these credentials in getting the better project result. These credentials never automatically help you to go to the next level in your job. If you are a project manager and PMP® certified then you need to show better result in your project by using concepts, tools and technologies and putting some out of box strategies as you learnt in PMP® and PgMP®, such as – you know how to monitor the schedule and you know how to control the cost in your project. This will put some gravity in your position and organization could think of assigning you some more tasks or might consider adding a similar project to your account and in return you might be promoted to program manager position.
Project management’s main work is to get work from the people to accomplish the project goals for the organization and for the customer as well. A project manager should manage the team smartly and if you are managing a huge cross-functional team with a lot of stakeholders; you could think of going to next level in project management i.e., program management. Remember, as a program manager your exposure level will be very high and as you will be managing multi projects – might be the case you are managing a large resource pool which are located in different geographical position and for communicating you are applying so many good techniques in a position to deliver the better result in your project. So, if you are managing a project smartly and your people skill management is good; you are through to think for next level i.e., program management.
3.Strategic and Tactical Thinking:
A project manager if s/he wants to go to the next level, they should put some thoughts on the strategic level or at least at middle management level. The best scenarios could be thinking on a better process improvement in your project and showing to the top management level that by adopting the same process, the other projects could be benefited or expedited. Think some out of box and put it in the process improvement so that organization realizes you are not only a true leader and a good project manager; but you could be a good senior manager as well like program or portfolio manager.
Don’t be reluctant in learning and don’t limit yourself as far as work is concerned. Expand your exposures; meet with many people in the organization. Earn something – learn something – gain something. Keep organization informed that not only you can handle your project smartly but you could take more responsibility and you are meant for that.
Re-skill yourself to the next level – go for PgMP® credential. Look for the better knowledge skilled educational courses so that you could increase your knowledge and clear your concept. Who knows you could be promoted to the top level in the organization. It is truly said on project manager – “A Project Manager could be a better CEO”.
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