What's the difference between a project and program?
In project management, a project and a program are two distinct concepts with different characteristics, goals, and structures. In this article we’re going to explore what makes these two different and why it’s important to understand.
Project vs Program
A project is a temporary endeavour designed to achieve a specific goal or outcome, with defined start and end dates, specific objectives, tasks, and resources.
A program, on the other hand, is a collection of related projects, managed and coordinated together to achieve a common strategic goal or objective.
One way to distinguish between projects and programs is to consider the focus, scope, and timeframe of each.
Projects are focused on delivering a specific outcome, while programs are focused on achieving a strategic objective.
Projects have a defined scope, while programs are broader in scope, with multiple projects and interrelated activities.
Projects have a defined timeframe, while programs may be ongoing, with multiple cycles of planning and execution.
Project planning and program planning
Effective planning is important regardless of what you’re doing, however there are differences between what the planning should focus on for a project or a program.
Project planning involves developing a detailed plan of tasks, timelines, and resources needed to achieve the specific goal or outcome of the project.
Program planning is more focused on aligning multiple projects with a common strategic objective, identifying interdependencies, coordinating resources, and managing risks across the program.
A key difference in planning between the two is the level of complexity. Projects are typically simpler than programs, with fewer stakeholders and a more defined scope. Program planning involves more stakeholders, more moving parts, and more variables to consider.
Project planning focuses on defining specific deliverables, timelines, and resources to achieve the goal, while program planning involves defining interrelated projects, developing a program-level schedule, and ensuring that each project is aligned with the overall program objectives.
As an example, a project could be building a new website for a company. The project would have specific tasks, such as defining the website requirements, designing the website, and testing the website. The project would have a defined scope, such as building the website, and a specific timeframe to complete the project.
A program, on the other hand, could be a company's digital transformation initiative, involving multiple projects such as building a new website, implementing a new CRM system, and migrating to cloud-based infrastructure. The program would have a broader scope, such as transforming the company's digital capabilities, and a longer timeframe. The program would involve planning each project, identifying interdependencies, coordinating resources, and managing risks across the multiple projects.
Projects, Programs and PPM Software
Fluid is an advanced project management software that can help manage both projects and programs effectively. With Fluid, you can create, monitor, and manage projects and programs with ease, improving your team’s productivity and overall efficiency, whilst giving you clear visibility of all activity.
Fluid allows you to break down a program into smaller projects, making it easy to track and manage the various components of the program. Each project can be linked to the overall program, allowing for a more comprehensive view of the program as a whole. Creating dependencies is simple with Fluid and allows you to keep track of all interconnecting projects effectively. You can even manage risk across a program by identifying potential risks and develop contingency plans to minimise their impact, whilst also tracking issues across multiple projects.
Fluid’s ability to manage resources is particularly useful for programs that involve multiple projects running at the same time, and the advanced reporting functionality helps you to understand the progress of your projects.
There are so many ways that Fluid can help you manage your projects and programs effectively, but why not see for yourself with a free trial.