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Program Management

What's the difference between Project Management and Program Management?

Though the terms Project Management and Program Management are frequently used interchangeably; however, there are key differences that warrant further explanation.

Project Management is the tactical management of work activities on a single, specific project. A project manager tracks individual project elements, such as task duration, dependencies, and resources, using project management software. Though some project management tools have developed the ability to view and compare certain aspects of multiple projects, or even roll-up of projects into a portfolio view, the original premise of managing milestones and task relationships on a specific project has remained constant.

Program Management encompasses elements inside and outside of projects

Program Management, conversely, is the coordinated management of criteria, standards and methods applied across a portfolio of projects (group of projects that have common resources and goals). Standards include documents and criteria (such as standard designs) that are applied based on changing program variations and conditions. Methods include internal processes, rules and preferences unique to an organization. These standards and methods exist as independent elements that can be re-used, customized and applied to projects (see diagram to right).

The figure below is a common interaction cycle within a single project team. Program managers often have hundreds of these project teams working simultaneously. Managing all tasks, priorities, schedules and data on these projects can be daunting. To meet these specific challenges, Program Management software has been developed.

Program Management software not only manages data for projects and portfolios, but also applies changing requirements globally across programs. Additionally, collaboration features provide a way for companies to manage relationships between project groups and team members. The ability to both drill down into a specific project and keep a pulse on the overall program performance is critical.

Unlike traditional project management systems, Thumbprint CPM was designed from the ground up to be a true program management tool. Knowledge gained from any single project is retained and intelligently applied to other projects in the program to help companies achieve success on a higher operational level, far beyond these former "islands of project information."

In a recent comparison study of 30 project/program management tools Collaborative Strategies, an independent consulting firm, noted:

"Cyntergy appeared to be the only vendor evaluated that was deeply committed to collaboration... Thumbprint CPM was the only tool we examined that was built from the ground up to be a program management tool."

- David Coleman, Managing Director, Collaborative Strategies

Click to download criteria and requirements for Program Management software

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