With the load and responsibility of multiple projects, Program Managers are supposed to keep up with the company's goals and projects. The role may be challenging, but here are the detailed and simplified insights into all the questions concerning the job role. Going through the following program manager job description will help you understand what the position entails.

What Is a Program Manager? 

A team leader who supervises program planning, tracking and execution is called a program manager. How a project fits in the company and how it can be best executed is overseen by program managers. They should be adept at using portfolio and project management software that helps them utilize project management methodologies for the planning, scheduling, and tracking of work in real time. A business administration or project management background helps program managers align the given projects with the organization's strategic goals.

Who Is a Program Manager?

The program manager is a certified professional who collaborates on multiple projects in a program with the goals and objectives of the organization. They do not exercise direct control over the projects but by overall allocation of duties and risk assessment. Their work concerns resources and achievements of an organization that needs to be achieved through smaller components such as projects. However, the exact job details differ for different organizations. You can check them on the official program manager job description posted by the company you are applying to. 

What Does a Program Manager Do?

With a high-level view into the componential projects, they ensure efficient work, deliver results and achieve goals by strategic planning and looking for risks and opportunities. You will come across the following activities in a typical program manager job description:

  • Program documentation
  • Communication with stakeholders and project managers
  • Finding the potential risks and opportunities  
  • Solving and developing the strategy for the risks
  • Manage the budget, resources, and interdependent projects

What's the Difference Between a Program Manager and a Project Manager?

The project manager manages one project at a time; however, the program manager manages all the project managers working on the projects in a program. The overall work and management by the program manager over multiple projects decrease to a single project in a department which is a small component of the company's objectives. 

You can also view other differences when you compare the program manager job description with that of a project manager. 

Program Manager Job Description 

Employers are looking for the following things in a program manager job description - 

Education Background 

Bachelor's degrees in administration, computer, communications and marketing can help you begin your career as a program manager. But, a higher workload and bigger goals need a Master's degree. Subsequently, candidates can gain expertise through program management certification courses providing exact guidance towards the goal. Gaining experience through internships and industrial congregation can provide exposure and relevant connections.  

Job Brief

Program managers are expected to guide the teams and project managers, coordinate programs, and manage the status of projects and programs. The individual should have communication and leadership skills with efficient result delivery, strategic and time-saving approach. 

The job brief on the program manager job description will give you the highlights of the job position and the role. 

Responsibilities

The program manager’s job responsibilities are as follows:

  • Coordination of projects
  • Analyze the interdependency and allocate the resources accordingly 
  • Lead and monitor the project managers
  • Efficient management of risk, change, and resources
  • Communicate with stakeholders regarding changes 
  • Maximize return on investment
  • Look for potential opportunities and overall risks in the program
  • Prepare reports for directors and stakeholders

Requirements and Skills

You will also find requirements and skills in the program manager job description, explaining The eligibility criteria for program manager are:

  • Experience in performance evaluation and change management
  • Excellent communication, analytical, and problem-solving skills
  • Must have pursued management studies
  • Experience in handling management software along with MS Office
  • Expertise in program and project management strategies, methods, techniques, and procedures
  • Experience in handling projects and project managers

How Much Does a Program Manager Make?

Based on the reviews, the Program Manager can earn around $138,866 on average in the year 2021. The least earners can expect around $100000, which can rise to $178,000.

What is the Projected Job Growth?

With the expectation of a 9% growth in the job opportunities concerning Program Managers, the numbers can be around 9,06,000 between 2020 to 2030. 

Where Do Program Managers Work?

The job role is irrespective of industry, providing a wide variety of opportunities based on expertise and interest levels. Among multiple options, a few examples include technology, IT, healthcare, non-profit organizations, and educational institutes. 

How to Become a Program Manager?

Professional degrees such as a bachelor in business administration, an MBA, or professional certificates in related fields are considered a prerequisite for a job in the industry. In addition, keeping up with the latest trends and best practices in the field by attending seminars and participating in conferences is advised. You can also pursue a PMI certification exam to add weight to your program manager's resume. 

A program consists of a project or multiple projects or could be a combination of projects and other programs regardless of its purpose, structure, or outcome. Since a project is inherently present in any program, related project management roles are also an important part of the program. Some roles include planning coordinator, project manager, senior user, and customer.  

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We will now address the program board and focus on the major program management roles and how they differ from project management roles.

The Sponsor

They are the senior members of the program organization, often carrying out important responsibilities. There could be one or more than one sponsor for large programs.

Responsibilities of the Sponsor 

  • To represent the sponsor's interest, they appoint the SRO or the Senior Responsible Owner.
  • The program's funding is authorized and approved by them.
  • According to the business care and mandate, they can authorize the program.
  • Senior stakeholders and sponsors resolve strategic and cross-program issues.
  • On the basis of the objectives and strategy of the organization, they approve the progress of the program.
  • At the time of program closure, they confirm the successful delivery and sign-offs. 
  • They demonstrate 'visible' support to the management team and the program.
  • They lead by example to promote the transformational change brought by a program. 

Skills and Attributes of the Sponsor

As a senior member of the organization, deep knowledge of the business, a clear vision of the strategy, high credibility, and strong entrepreneurial skills are important for the person holding the sponsor position and carrying out the program management roles. 

The Senior Responsible Owner (SRO)

The Senior Responsible Owner could be a member of the sponsoring group or be the sponsor. Their primary program management roles include ensuring that the overall objective of the program is met. They could be appointed by the sponsor as their representative and should be empowered with decision-making powers that they could exercise on behalf of the sponsors. 

Responsibilities of the SRO

  • Collaborating with the senior stakeholders
  • Get funding from the sponsors
  • Key' strategic' risk management
  • Guarding the viability of the vision and the business case
  • Maintain strategic arrangements between the program and the organization
  • Lead the program to its successful completion

Skills and Attributes of the SRO

Strong leadership skills are important as a senior member of the organization. In addition, critical decision-making skills and not losing focus on the program's strategic objectives are crucial for SROs’ program management roles.

The Program Manager

The program manager is responsible for the entire program, right from the planning stage to governance and overseeing the successful delivery of the product or output. As a 'super' project manager, their program management roles seek sound knowledge of the business and practical experience as a project manager planning complex and large initiatives. Therefore, program management skills are a must.

Responsibilities of the Program Manager

  • Plan the program and monitor its progress
  • They define the program governance (controls)
  • They look after the daily program management from start to end
  • They manage the budget of the program
  • Managing risks and conflicts and taking corrective measures
  • Coordinating various projects
  • They utilize and manage resources across projects
  • They manage the crucial program documents like the program initiation document
  • They handle stakeholders' communication
  • A business change manager helps them align the deliverables to the program's outcome

Skills and Attributes of the Program Manager

Experience in project management is necessary, which is gained by managing large projects. Along with that, they must have a good knowledge of program management and its techniques, a proper understanding of the program objectives, strong leadership skills, and the ability to work with a group and manage several groups simultaneously. They should also resolve issues efficiently and have a good understanding of resource allocation procedures and budgeting.

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The Business Change Manager (BCM)

The management and achievement of benefits are one of the key differences between project management and program management. That is, the obvious and quantifiable value created by the incorporation and application of the newly delivered capability.

Whereas project management is concerned with outputs (products or deliverables), program management is concerned with outcomes or the end result of using such outputs.

A Business Change Manager plans and handles the achievement of the benefits by incorporating new capabilities within the business practice. The BCM has a good knowledge of the organization's strategic objectives and business processes and, thus, is an important member of the business. 

A senior Business Change Manager might supervise several other BCMs for every area of the business that might be impacted by the program. 

Responsibilities of the Business Change Manager

  • Based on the strategic objectives of the program, a BCM will define the benefits to be realized.
  • Develop the benefits realization plan
  • They will maintain focus on the realization of the benefits.
  • Define and track the KPI for benefits realization
  • Ensure business continuity during the change;
  • A program manager will collaborate with a BCM to determine whether the outputs and outcomes will lead to benefit realization.
  • The affected area of business will be prepared for the new way of working, and BCM will implement potential new business processes.
  • Optimizing the timing of the release of new deliverables into business operations

Skills and Attributes of the Business Change Manager

A good understanding of the organization, including the management structure, culture, and politics, is important; sufficient knowledge of the business area's background and the role's ongoing operational responsibilities. Change management skills are a must for managing complex situations to achieve the program's objectives. In addition, the BCM should possess good chaos management skills, negotiation skills, prioritization skills, and interpersonal skills.

The Program Management Office (PMO)

The program management office has a wider perspective on the functions and governs on a larger scale than the project management office. 

The PMO can range from one person functioning as 'program support' to a big team of employees, and it might have multiple locations if the program is spread across the country or the world. It can be installed to support a specific program or as a permanent structure that supports all of the organization's programs, in which case it is merged with the permanent project management office. The program office manager is in charge of the PMO's functions.

Responsibilities of the Program Management Office

  • Creating tools and standards for program management;
  • Output and outcome planning, monitoring, and reporting
  • Management of information and logistics;
  • Planning and management of finances;
  • Tracking of risks and issues;
  • Management of cross-project interdependence;
  • establishing quality control criteria and monitoring implementation
  • establishing and monitoring change control methods;
  • Creating a stakeholder map, defining each group's interests;
  • Establishing and carrying out communication plans with stakeholders.

Additional Roles of a Permanent PMO

  • Reporting to the senior management and maintaining a strategic overview of all programs;
  • Acting as the in-house consultant for projects and programs;
  • Training the projects and programs management teams; 
  • Auditing and quality checks on projects and programs.

Skills and Attributes of the Program Office Manager (POM)

The skills necessary for the POM role differ greatly from typical program management roles.  The program manager position is hands-on and requires excellent leadership and interpersonal skills. On the other hand, the POM has a hands-off job that requires excellent management discipline and communication skills. The POM's role is to assist the management team and the program.

A POM should have the following attributes and skills:

  • Strong experience in effective program management by acting as a member of a program management team;
  • Competency in project and program management techniques;
  • Good familiarity and practice in using the several tools available to support program management;
  • Working well under pressure
  • Ability to put theory into practice;
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
Are you a professional who is aspiring to be a Project Manager? Then check-out our PMP® Certification course curriculum now!

Conclusion 

Take your project management career to the next level by efficiently carrying out your program management roles and responsibilities. Enroll in our PMP certification exams and let the much-valued certificate bear testimony to your profound knowledge and skills!

FAQs

1. What is a program manager?

A certified professional who manages programs containing several projects. Working over the project managers, he is supposed to communicate, lead and assess the possibilities of improvement in an organization.

2. What does a program manager do?

Program managers are supposed to coordinate smaller projects, allocate resources efficiently, and review the progress and project managers' efficiency and work. They review the changes in projects, analyze opportunities and risks. Also, they form tactics to tackle them. 

3. Can I customize the program manager role description?

The program manager description can be customized based on the requirements of a manager to handle different projects leading toward the organization's growth. The modifications can include departmental skills, level of expertise, qualities, educational background, and software familiarity.

4. What are some common titles to use for the program manager role?

Program managers can be hired with the titles Human Resources program manager, IT program manager, product-based program manager, and others, depending upon the type of programs that need to be managed. 

5. What are the duties and responsibilities of a Program Manager?

The duties and responsibilities included management, creativity, analysis, and delivery of results with efficiency and effectiveness. The work should coordinate with the company's goals and available resources. 

6. What makes a good Program Manager?

Good program managers can utilize their experiences and actions to influence and respectfully lead the individuals working under them. Providing the best results, they use their capabilities to the maximum advantage of the company. 

7. Who does a Program Manager work with?

They work with project managers, stakeholders, teams of members of the projects, and other broadly involved employees of an organization. 

About the Author

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Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

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  • *According to Simplilearn survey conducted and subject to terms & conditions with Ernst & Young LLP (EY) as Process Advisors