Program managers and project managers are often assumed to be similar roles — in fact, they’re sometimes mistaken as two titles for the same job. While both positions share some common skills and responsibilities, they are quite distinct from each other. The difference between project manager and program manager lies in their respective focuses; project managers focus on single, specific projects (e.g., the release of a product or the completion of a study), whereas program managers focus on how various projects align with an organization’s high-level objectives in more of a managerial and operations-based role.
To be successful in their role, program managers have to keep tabs on multiple projects that serve a similar goal. In doing so, they work with the project managers running those projects, who are involved in the details and day-to-day tasks required to complete them. So, while individuals in these positions often work together, their jobs are quite different.