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Project manager vs Program manager vs Project sponsor: Differences and responsibilities

What is the difference between the project manager, program manager, and the project sponsor? We discuss in detail their differences and responsibilities.

Read this material carefully since you may need this knowledge if you intend to apply for a Master’s project management diploma with the PM.MBA or other Master educational institution.

Program Manager, Project Director, Project Sponsor, and Project manager are roles that are highlighted with great detail in all comprehensive educational and certification programs so we hope this resource is of great use for your future initiatives.

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Program manager

A program manager is one who is a program manager for entire programs. He is responsible for all related projects under one common program. All program project managers are accountable to the program manager.

The purpose of the program manager is to coordinate the efforts of the sub-teams to ensure that they work together to achieve the common goal.

The responsibilities of the program manager are:

Plan and design the program, proactively monitor its progress, resolve problems, and initiate appropriate corrective actions.
Determination of program management rules.

Effective quality assurance and integrity of the program – ensure the internal consistency of the program and its external coordination with infrastructure planning, interaction with other programs, technical and other specialized standards.

Manages the program budget, monitoring costs against the benefits presented and realized as the program progresses.

Facilitates the appointment of people in project teams.
Ensures that the delivery of new products or services from the project is of the right level and quality, on time and within budget, in accordance with the plan and program arrangements.

Allocates common resources and skills within individual projects related to the program.

Manages third-party contributions to the program.
Manages the communication of all program stakeholders.
Manages the risks to the successful outcome of the program.

Reports the progress of the program at regular intervals to the Program Director.
Manages the processes through which technology is made.

It’s more of a business role than a technology workplace. The program manager is an expert in structured frameworks and process management methods. Using a disciplined approach, he determines needs and budgets and manages progress.

Perhaps a Senior Project Manager would be appropriate for a program manager since she manages many projects of different nature. It is very important for the department in which it works to understand the overall concept of the projects, and where the real feedback from the clients is obtained, these are two very important things for the role of the program management.

Project Sponsor

The project sponsor could also be called an investor. This is the person who has ultimate authority over the project. Provides funding, resolves issues, and changes in project scope, approves key deliverables, and makes high-level decisions.

This is a high-level managerial position that can make strategic decisions that are not within the prerogatives of lower-level managers.

The project sponsor can resolve resource shortages or engage in high-level negotiations with the client when serious disagreements arise. The sponsor intervenes where the powers of the program manager end. This is the person who presents the project to senior management. He has the responsibility to make direct decisions about the resources and budget of the project, to defend the project manager’s positions to senior management. With his authority and professional experience, the sponsor could take on the role of a mentor with advice and practical experience in negotiating and removing obstacles to the project.

The Project Sponsor is crucial for strategic planning, high sustainability, and successful project implementation.

The main responsibilities of the project sponsor are:

Negotiates to fund for the project.
Provides project management guidance, key business strategies, and project initiatives.
Determines and manages project benefits.
Participates in the initial planning of the project, including the development of a diagram and scope of the project.
Appoints a member of the Management Committee.
Determines the critical factors for the success of the project and approves the results.
Negotiates with stakeholders to reach consensus on differences of opinion.
Evaluates the success of the project after its completion.
The role of the sponsor is essential to ensure the success of the project. It is primarily concerned with ensuring that the project achieves the agreed business benefits.

The main activities of the Project sponsor are:

Initiates – selects a project manager with a clear mandate, context and level of authority. Provides the project organization suitable for the project. Provides sufficient time to complete activities, ensure that they are performed correctly, and assess readiness. Appreciates the charter. Participates in kick-off meetings and decides what goes on to the next stage.

Plans – checks that the plans are realistic and approve only those that are feasible. It is ensured that the team is not forced to live up to unrealistic expectations. Provides sufficient time for project planning. Serves as an escalation point for problems and challenges. Ensures proper prioritization of the project and within the project requirements based on the project portfolio and the needs of the organization/client. Observes the dynamism and effectiveness of the team.

Implementation and control – works with the project manager without crossing the border, focusing too much on the details. Evaluates progress towards goals and guides the project manager through appropriate feedback. Encourages the project manager and team members to identify and resolve project problems and provides effective progress for the team and stakeholders. The process should be followed to take account of changes in project scope and procedures. Identifies the main factors and root causes of the problem in a meaningful way. Acknowledges the successful completion of key phases.

Close – Participates in the evaluation of the completed project. Evaluates project implementation, adhering to the specifics of the project and its success criteria. Ensures that transmission is carried out in a manner that maximizes benefits. Encourages constructive discussion about the successes and failures of the project. Ensures finalization.

Project Director

Project Director – The true leader is at the strategic level. Among the things he needs to understand is the context of the organization in a broader perspective and any changes that occur outside the operational area. In addition, there must be an approach, time and impact for all to be involved simultaneously and properly.

The project director should provide advice when necessary. The project team does not need to be supervised or directed, it must be an experienced leader. The project detector should provide the team with coaching, leadership and guidance on various issues, risks, activities and overall management and approach to the project.

The project director is usually the author of the proposal for the specific scope of work, responsible for all major aspects of the work being done, including the technical and program requirements of the project, compliance with administrative policies and tasks. Leads a team of one or more project managers and various software developers, web developers, graphic designers, testers, network engineers and others essential to the project.

The project director responsibilities

The primary responsibility is to complete the project on schedule, within the budget and scope of the project. Has the power to make key decisions, modify budgets, add resources, and related project management processes. Receives regular reports from project managers and reports directly to senior management. He often manages several projects at the same time.

Responsible for day-to-day management on behalf of the project owner to ensure that the desired project goals are achieved. There must be adequate knowledge of the business and the project to be able to make informed decisions. I think the CEO, the Executive Director, could play the role of the project director.

The Project Manager

What is the role of the project manager? The Project Manager is responsible for bringing all project teams together in the organization and ensuring that they can perform specialized tasks within the required time. The position of the leader requires time management, personal communication, and business and communication skills. Must know all the contributions to the project needed to achieve a goal such as time, cost and equipment for staff, as well as focusing on how and when the project will achieve its goals. This includes managing the project schedule, milestones and team members responsible for the report.

The project manager must cooperate with the functional manager in personnel management. The project manager is responsible for ensuring that each employee’s role in the project is understood and that the objectives set out are adequately met. It views staff as a resource for the accomplishment of specific tasks and directs efforts to outline, plan and monitor work to be done. The project manager manages the resources and assets needed for a successful project, and the functional manager manages the people in the team.

The project manager should monitor, control and evaluate in the process of project implementation whether resources and budget are properly utilized and whether they are sufficient. If more resources are needed and the budget turns to the sponsor of the project, who has the authority to provide them.

When a change to the project plan is required, the manager again submits a reasoned change to the project director with recommendations and information on how this affects the current project plan and timeline.

The project manager is guided by the operational decisions and business issues that the project sponsor has identified so that the one in the leadership position can make the right strategic decisions. He makes the sponsor’s decisions and does his best to achieve what is needed. If something happens and the manager realizes that the project cannot be completed on time and in the desired way, he informs the sponsor about it and he decides what to do with the project.

The project manager responsibilities

The project manager is responsible for achieving the goals of the organization. An extremely large part of his role is related to communication – with the team, with the sponsor, with the project director, with stakeholders and other managers and experts within or outside the organization. An important part of his job is risk assessment.

It is the responsibility of the project manager to apply the methodology approved by the company to work on the project. It plans the implementation of the project, playing a central role in planning. He is responsible for developing the plan and making changes to the plan until the project director and sponsor approve it.

After planning, the project enters the implementation phase. Here the project manager has the following role:
Must provide guidance and vision for the project’s end products or services. How they look, how they work, and, most importantly, how people should feel. The project team needs to know what works.

Stakeholders need to be satisfied, or the project fails. People in the project are also stakeholders, and communication with them is as important as their achievements.

Very few projects do not experience some form of budget change or project schedule from their original plan, leading to one of the most difficult day-to-day tasks of a project manager – managing change. It always comes with a change in project schedule or budget, or a change in project acceptance by stakeholders. The role of the project manager is to guide changes in the project by making decisions that move the project forward.

Another key role is project control, which involves monitoring the entire project, such as quality, schedule, budget, communication with stakeholders, and changing project plans if they do not meet their goals.

And last but not least, one of the tasks of the project manager is a weekly / or other adequate period / to determine the budget and schedule status and whether the project meets the plan.

A functional manager

A functional manager is a person who is directly affiliated with an organizational unit, with specific skills that must meet the stated goals of the project, and has managerial authority over it. Responsible for a particular business unit, such as – Head of Development Team, Head of Development Testing Unit, etc.

He manages and owns resources in this particular department and generally manages the technical work of people in this functional area who work on the project. The Functional Manager coordinates with the project manager the relevant needs regarding the use of resources to complete the project work. Functional manager activities may include:

Designate specific individuals in the project and contracts with the project manager for resources.
Participates in the initial planning while defining work packages and activities.
Provides expertise on technical implementation issues.
Approves the final timetable during schedule development.
Recommends changes to the project including corrective actions.
Manages activities in the technical functional areas.
Assists with team members performance issues.
Improves the efficiency and use of staff in its department.
The technical skills of the functional manager are essential as specific knowledge and skills are required to perform his / her tasks. His communication skills are directly linked to the ability to effectively communicate information to other team members.

Having a properly selected functional manager on the project team can only improve their work, as well as their morale and commitment. Having time to communicate more with him would make people feel more valued as team members.

The functional manager must convey the information to the team so that the team understands correctly what is expected of them. He has managerial authority over the department as well as the responsibility to ensure that the goals and objectives are consistent with the overall strategy and vision of the organization. The Functional Manager should be responsible for the effectiveness, performance of evaluations, professional development and conflict resolution in his department.

Control of resources in the department focuses on the functional manager. The task is to improve processes, identify and deal with inefficiencies, set standards and best practices. His role can be divided into duties and powers.

Functions of the functional manager to evaluate and evaluate the overall performance, as well as proposals for the allocation of resources. It is responsible for the continuous improvement of functions and the enhancement of cross-functional integration.

The authority of the position is related to setting specific standards and prescribing training and training, thus supporting the organization’s policies and requirements.

An essential part of the job in this position is the ability to manage time effectively and delegate tasks and responsibilities appropriately. The Functional Manager is responsible for managing people with specific skills and various resources in the department to achieve functional goals as well as corporate ones.

A senior role inside the organization that also has the technical knowledge for this role. The fact that he is a senior programmer suggests that he has been in his department long enough and knows the people and the resources that the department has. If he has the necessary communication and organizational skills and can be guided in the overall vision of the project, then he is most likely suitable for a functional manager.

The Steering Committee

The Steering Committee is a group of high-level stakeholders responsible for the guidance of overall strategic leadership and is the highest decision-making body. If too many members are involved, this can delay the project, so only those who are empowered to make decisions should be involved. Five members would be good numbers, but the optimal number depends on the size and nature of the projects in the organization.

The most senior member of the steering committee is the sponsor of the project. They also elect the other members.

The work of the Steering Committee consists of the following activities:

Takes responsibility for the project’s feasibility, business plan and results.
Ensures that the scope of the work meets the agreed requirements.
Provides business guidance to those directly involved in the project.
Assures that efforts and costs are appropriate for the stakeholders and meet their expectations.
Ensures that potential threats are identified and strategies created for them, approve costs.
Keeps the scope of the project under control
Takes responsibility for progress.
Informs stakeholders about progress and any issues related to project management.

The business plan of the project is the main document from which the steering committee is guided and on the basis of which it defines the components to monitor.

1 reply on “Project manager vs Program manager vs Project sponsor: Differences and responsibilities”

To be honest, this was the most detailed and clear article about the different roles in the project management field. Thank you for your effort. May I use your materials for putting references in my education works? Thanks in advance,
Linda

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