Program manager

What is a program manager?

A program manager (PgM) is the person responsible for achieving the approved program goals and vision for a particular organizational strategic outcome by managing and coordinating a set of program components (initiatives and projects) to obtain benefits and control that could not have been achieved by managing the components individually. The program will be managed according to program management methodology.  To be successful, the PgM should have full responsibility and authority to ensure cross-project work effort remains feasible from a business standpoint and the program benefits can be realized.

How do I define who the program manager should be?

For an IT program, it is important to choose a PgM who:

  • has a strategic and benefit focus and will drive the program decisions based on strategic and business benefits
  • possesses project/program management knowledge, technical knowledge, and strong business management skills
  • is a strong leader, able to create, share and motivate towards a vision by creating collaboration amongst component teams
  • is able to influence without authority through negotiation, interpersonal skills, and motivation skills
  • is a skilled change agent, able to handle broad change with incremental benefit realization
  • is comfortable communicating at all levels of the organization
  • has or will be able to obtain respect through all levels of the organization
  • possesses very strong conflict resolution skills
  • is comfortable working in an uncertain environment where all of the details are not always available
  • has a constant risk management mind-set
  • is able to act quickly

What are the program manager responsibilities?

  • Ensure timely, cumulative strategic benefit realization throughout the program
  • Ensure the program components (set of projects and initiatives) and teams continue to align to program vision and benefits
  • Develop, monitor, and control program through definition, benefit delivery, and closure
  • In partnership with program sponsor, develop and implement program governance
  • Provide oversight, coordination, and manage dependencies of program components
  • Monitor and respond to decisions, issues, and risks at the program level
  • Accountable to executive sponsors for schedule, budget, and quality of all program components
  • Create and execute program plan and schedule
  • Review component project plans for conformance to program vision, benefits, plan, and schedule
  • Act as the communications conduit to executive sponsors and program governance, and conduct briefings/status updates
  • Escalate issues, risks, and decisions to executive sponsors and program governance, as necessary
  • Maintain program integrity and coherence
  • Manage cash inflows and outflows at program level
  • Ensure proper allocation of resources


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