What does a programme manager do all day?


I had an interesting conversation with a trio of project managers, two of which have been managing projects for me.

Seemingly what had transpired was a conversation about the inconsistency between comparable roles in the organisation. Obviously working in a matrix organisation meant that these two project managers also report into multiple managers. Including, at some time or another, several programme managers.

As we depleted our coffee mugs of liquid, the discussion digressed. Ending with a debate about roles, responsibilities and accountabilities.

In a nutshell, what does a programme manager do all day?

Having performed the role several times, for different firms, I had a crack at cataloguing what activities I had performed in previous programme manager roles.

These included (in no particular order):

  • Ensures that the projects in the programme are aligned with the overall business strategy of the organisation
  • Support business plan set up including setting of programme and project budgets
  • Maintain programme budgets and highlight changes versus the plan
  • Hold regular reviews on product profitability (gross margin) and derive corrective actions
  • Establish, drive and maintain the overall programme plan, including regular program reporting to both internal and external teams
  • Manage the project managers and the business team for the programme
  • Responsible to the Project Executive and Senior Responsible Owner for successful delivery of the programme outcome
  • Planning and designing the programme. Proactively monitoring its overall progress, resolving issues and initiating corrective action as appropriate
  • Define the success criteria of the projects
  • Define all milestones and track on a regular basis
  • Coordination of projects and their interdependencies (at programme level and externally with other programmes, business areas and third parties)
  • Maintaining the overall integrity and coherence of the programme
  • Risk and issue management at programme level. Highlight issues and derive options for resolution. Ensure risk analysis is completed and maintained including options and trigger dates
  • Proactive stakeholder engagement, communications and management
  • Ensure cohesion and convergence of all projects, programmes and, where appropriate, portfolios
  • Ensures proper and standard implemntation of project management (only in the case when there is no PMO). Apply programme or project management tools and techniques appropriately in such engagements, including identifying programme or project issues and proposing resolution strategies and escalations
  • Initiating extra services and other management interventions wherever gaps in the programme are identified or issues arise
  • Recruit staff and contractors for the projects and programme
  • Monitor business engagement and assist the project manager on any issues related to business team members participation in the project
  • Oversee the requirements management process
  • Create effective communications using appropriate channels for the management of programme stakeholders, such as reports to top executives about the status of the programme. Organise and hold regular programme status meetings. Derive regular reports including management and customer updates
  • Lead specific programme or project management disciplines e.g. benefit tracking, issue / risk management, business case development
  • Establish and maintain efficient programme reporting across involved departments
  • Lead and manage cross functional teams across multiple locations to deliver the programme. Including third party management
  • Ensure that the product/service is successful at launch
  • Ensure that the product/service remains successful (Note: that the programme manager’s scope of work is not restricted to the lifetime of the project as a project manager, but expands beyond that, to the lifetime of the product or service)

It appears to be an awful lot. I am certain I have omitted a few activities (and avoided organisation specific ones).

Have you any to add?

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