There’s a Difference Between Project vs. Program Management

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There’s a Difference Between Project vs. Program Management

By: Mike Kemp, President and CEO of KMS

Raise your hand if you know the definition of project management? How about program management? If you don’t know, no worries, many people don’t realize that they are different concepts. Even highly experienced professionals within the construction industry tend to use the terms interchangeably (or flat out incorrectly).

Let us try to clear up any confusion and explain the major differences while also distinguishing between the role of a Project and Program Manager. 

Project vs. Program Management: The Actual Difference 

It all boils down to the number of projects that are being executed. Project management focuses on a single project which in our industry would be a sole focus on construction. Regardless of whether the project is big or small– we consider project management overseeing a single project and managing a range of details, including costs, schedule, communication, and reporting. 

Let’s say there’s a student housing project built on a university campus, and it’s a $40 million project. Though it’s a big project, it is considered a single project. As a Project Manager, you must manage that project while the architect manages the design. As that project comes into a bid, you will facilitate the architect’s bid process before hiring a contractor to start construction. So that’s project management – a single project.

Program management consists of multiple projects 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 in construction, but you’re working to create consistency between them all – focusing on process and efficiency. 

An example of program management will be if you have a corporation, whether it’s a bank, municipality, or some other Fortune 500 company and the deliverables are to assess/manage and execute across multiple projects or construction needs. There may be needs for renovations, enhancements, and possibly new construction. It becomes a program when you’re managing multiple projects across their entire footprint.

Who Runs the Show? Project Manager vs. Program Manager 

Let’s take a deeper look into the role of project and program managers. 

Again, project managers are your primary source for a single project, and program managers supervise various projects. That said, when you get into a program with various 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 primary goal is to create synergy in the overall way the projects are delivered. The program manager is responsible for the entire team sharing the same methodology from managing different architects, designers, and engineers. Program Managers are your glue. 

Looking at the overall bigger picture, the goals of a Project Manager and Program Manager are not that different. Having the project come in under budget and remain on schedule are priorities for both. What makes their roles different is how they got there. 

The KMS Program Management Philosophy

Here at KMS, we focus on our client’s vision. Innovation and utilizing technology are very instrumental in our project and program delivery process. Using data to drive our approach creates an unmatched efficiency and consistency in how we produce results. 

Technology for project/program management is a significant differentiator from one firm to another. From a reporting and cost standpoint, outstanding and proprietary technologies provide clients with better and more lucrative value. This is why we personally never stop pushing ourselves to find new and innovative ways of delivering incredible results.

Kemp Management Solutions (KMS) is a program management and consulting firm dedicated to helping clients navigate the nuances of a project or large program. KMS is a turnkey consulting firm that handles every element of a project under one roof. To learn more about KMS and their innovative approach to program management, visit our website at .

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