A project is a managed initiative of fixed duration, budget and scope. A program is a long running initiative with broad strategic goals. The following are key differences between the two:
TimeProjects have a start and end date. Programs may be ongoing or have an end date that is years in the future.
ComplexityPrograms are a way to break complex missions into manageable chunks of work. As a general rule, programs accomplish far greater complexity than a single project. For example, a program may involve multiple concurrent projects that have interdependencies.
Objectives & GoalsA program has broad strategic goals such as transforming an organization's business model, product offerings or cost structure. A project may have objectives that are a step towards strategic goals but aren't end-goals in themselves.
BudgetA project has a baseline scope, budget and schedule. A program may be tied to an organization's annual budget process whereby it submits a request for funds each year.
CalendarA project may run independently of a firm's financial calendar. A program may be required to report into a firm's quarterly results.
LevelPrograms are often visible to a firm's executive team and board of directors. Projects may be much lower level, reporting to a program management team or middle management.
ChangePrograms expect change and projects control change. Programs may accept all ideas for change into a backlog and prioritize things into projects. Projects are meant to deliver a fixed set of requirements with a stable scope.
This is the complete list of articles we have written about program management.
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