The Actual Difference in Project & Program Management Explained

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By J. Michael Kemp, Sr., President and CEO of Kemp Management Solutions

Many folks don’t realize there’s a huge difference in project and program management. To this day, even those who are highly experienced in the construction industry tend to use the terms interchangeably (or flat out incorrectly!)

So to clear up any confusion, below we’re laying out the major differences, while also distinguishing between the roles of a Project and Program Manager.

Project vs. Program Management: The Actual Differences

To put it simply, the primary difference in the two is that project management is focused on a single project while typically focusing on construction only. Regardless of size, large or small, it could be one building or one office renovation – it’s a single project where you’re managing a range of details, including cost, schedule, communication, and reporting.

On the other hand, program management consists of multiple projects that are being managed simultaneously with consistent scheduling, reporting, communication and cost control.  These various projects may be in different phases, some in design or planning and others may be construction, but you’re working to create consistencies between them all – putting a focus on process and efficiency.

The Role: Project Manager vs. Program Manager

Project Managers “rule the world” on a construction project, whether it’s multiple projects or a single project. That said, when you get into a program with multiple projects, the Program Manager is now putting processes in place to ensure consistency in reporting, cost control, and overall project delivery.

The Program Manager’s role is to create consistency in the overall way the projects are delivered. Since projects may have a different architect, designer, and engineer on each project, the Program Manager is responsible for making sure everybody’s methodology is in line.

On a macro level, the goal of a Project Manager and Program Manager don’t differ that greatly. They both want the project to come in under-budget and on-schedule. What differs is the way they get there.

Examples of Project and Program Management

Let’s say there’s a student housing project that’s being built on a university campus, and it’s a $40 million project. Though it’s a big project, it’s still a single project. As a Project Manager, you’re going to manage that project while the architect’s going to manage the design. As that project comes into bid, you’re going to facilitate the bid process with the architect before ultimately hiring a contractor to start construction. So that’s a project – a single project.

An example of program management would be if you have a corporation, whether it’s a bank or some other fortune 500 company, that owns multiple facilities across the country. We’ll say they have 100 facilities and need to renovate various portions in each of those buildings over time. You may have some renovations, you may have a roof replacement, you may even have a new building being built – but it becomes a program where you’re managing multiple projects across their entire footprint.

The Kemp Management Solutions (KMS) Program Management Philosophy

So our company (KMS) focuses on innovation. This innovation and utilization of technology are instrumental in the way we’re able to enhance the overall program delivery process. By using the vast amount of data we have in a smarter way, we’re able to create unmatched efficiency and consistency in our project delivery.

Technology for project/program management is a major differentiator from one firm to another. From a reporting and cost standpoint, outstanding and proprietary technologies provide better and more lucrative value to clients.

That’s why we personally never stop pushing ourselves to find new and better ways of delivering incredible results.

Learn More About Project and Program Management Services from Kemp Management Solutions in Birmingham, AL Today  

Kemp Management Solutions, located in Birmingham, AL, is a program management and consulting firm dedicated to providing our clients with innovative, personalized process solutions for large projects or programs — without ever compromising our client’s vision. We’re committed to delivering customized solutions for our partners through innovation, integrity, and collaboration. Contact us online or give us a call at (205) 731-7372 to learn more about who we are and how we can be an asset to your next project

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