POWER Engineers

Program management can take on different shades of meaning depending on the industry, discipline groups or company’s association of the term with a set of specific services. The most common crossover of definitions seems to occur between program management and project management, which are used interchangeably in many industry segments.

According to the Project Management Institute's The Standard for Program Management, 2nd Ed., "A program is a group of related projects managed in a coordinated manner to obtain benefits and control not available from managing them individually."

Program management also coordinates resources across all of the projects in the program, identifies synergies between projects, and manages overall costs and risks of the program.

A second, less common, definition of the term "program manager" is an individual who heads up a repeatable program that is implemented at multiple sites in a similar manner. A recent example would be one company’s efforts to standardize its plant security efforts across all of its facilities. A program to do this is put in place, and typically one program manager is selected to create a team of vendors (project managers) and service providers who will implement the program across all facilities.

The following helps to define the different roles and responsibilities of both program and project management.


Program management is the process of managing multiple ongoing activities or projects that make up an overall facility program (multiple activities into projects that will be integrated into one functional program). Program management defines the program objectives, specifies deliverables, establishes key dates and manages the activity or package providers to meet the overall program objectives in a timely and cost-effective manner.

A program manager should be able to effectively perform the following:

  • Assemble and manage the program management team (program manager, scheduler, engineering support as required)
  • Oversee and ensure the coordination of the activities or projects from the selected providers via their assigned project managers
  • Assist the owner with developing individual scopes of work to be performed by individual activity or project providers and their assigned project managers
  • Provide direction to the owner for writing contracts or purchase orders for the individual activities or projects
  • Coordinate and maintain an overall program schedule, which incorporates the schedules from each activity or project provider
  • Assist the owner in resolution of discrepancies in design areas or scopes of work
  • Assist the owner in monitoring the required regulatory, hazard analysis critical control points (HACCP) and sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOP) of each provider where applicable
  • Assist the owner in monitoring sustainable/LEED initiatives if applicable
  • Schedule and manage meetings with the providers to ensure an open exchange of information and ongoing activities
  • Establish closeout procedures and final check list protocols
  • Transition completed program operations to the owner.


The project manager is responsible for a specific activity or project (typically an assignable activity or project). For example, this could include the design build, the process, the primary packaging, the secondary packaging, the controls, the millwright or installation, the warehouse or racking, etc.

A project manager should be able to effectively perform the following:

  • Act as the lead representative for the activity or project that is being provided
  • Represent the company in all meetings associated with the overall program the activities or projects are a part of
  • Procure all scopes of work and supplies needed for the activities or project deliverables
  • Manage all related activities to ensure the performance of the team's deliverables is in line with the contracted terms, conditions and schedule
  • Perform in accordance with an established master schedule for the overall activities or project
  • Ensure coordination of specific work with the work performed by others to meet their areas of responsibility
  • Schedule and expedite all activities pertaining to the activity or project
  • Provide input on all aspects of deliverables to the program manager in a manner that supports the overall objectives of the program.

In essence, the program manger is the conductor and each project manager is a member of the orchestra.

This story is sponsored by POWER Engineers, which has one of the most comprehensive teams of engineers and specialists serving the baking and snack industry. As an extension of its clients' engineering teams, the company provides program management, integrated solutions and full facility design for the baking and snack industry. Learn more at www.powereng.com/food.