Programme Manager Vs Project Manager : Comparison of Responsibilities

Firstly, let me briefly define a Programme Manager and Project Manager before I attempt to compare their responsibilities.

* The Programme Manager is responsible, on behalf of the Senior Responsible Owner, for successful delivery of the new capability. The role requires the effective co-ordination of the projects and their inter-dependencies, and any risks and other issues that may arise.

In most cases, the Programme Manager will work full-time on the programme, as the role is crucial for creating and maintaining enthusiasm and momentum.

The Programme Manager is responsible for the overall integrity and coherence of the programme, and develops and maintains the programme environment to support each individual project within it – typically through the Programme Office function. 

* The Project Manager is the individual responsible for delivering the project. The Project Manager leads and manages the project team, with the authority and responsibility to run the project on a day-to-day basis.

For smaller/straightforward projects, the roles of Project Sponsor/Director and Project Manager may be combined subject to the proviso that the person taking on the combined responsibilities possesses the requisite competencies, expertise, experience and has the available time and resources. Where roles are combined, it is essential that delegations and responsibilities are clearly understood and do not overlap with other roles. This role description assumes that the roles of Project Sponsor/Project Director and Project Manager are separate. Where the roles are combined with no separate interface, the Project Sponsor/Project Manager reports direct to the SRO/PO. 

* Definitions according to OGC (Office of Government Commerce), MSP and PRINCE2 frameworks.

Responsibility No. 1 – Planning

Programme Manager: Plans programme-level activities and schedule of projects.
Project Manager: Plans a project given the dependencies and interfaces defined by the Programme Manager.  

Responsibility No. 2 – Terms of Reference (TOR)

Programme Manager: Defines TOR for projects.
Project Manager: Works within the defined TOR.  

Responsibility No. 3 – Projects

Programme Manager: Starts, stops and monitors progress of constituent projects.
Project Manager: Runs a project, reporting to the Programme Manager.  

Responsibility No. 4 – Risks & Issues

Programme Manager: Manages programme-level risks and issues. Delegates risks to projects.
Project Manager: Manages project risks and issues, escalating to the Programme Manager wherever necessary.  

Responsibility No. 5 – Policies & Procedures

Programme Manager: Sets policies and procedures for projects.
Project Manager: Runs project according to policies and procedures.  

Responsibility No. 6 – Resource Management

Programme Manager: Resolves resource conflicts.
Project Manager: Uses assigned resources.  

Responsibility No. 7 – Governance

Programme Manager: Determines programme standards.
Project Manager: Delivers products to the defined standards.


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