What is Programme and Project Management?

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Posting date: 04 March 2024

What is project and programme management as a discipline? 

This formal management disciplines overall aim is to ensure best practices through the principles, procedures and policies for a project from conception through to completion.  

A project can be defined as an undertaking with specific start and end parameter designed to produce a defined outcome. It must be stated these are temporary endeavours and different from ongoing processes within a business.  

Within my role and at Harvey Nash we focus on IT project managers and programme managers, which are individuals responsible for executing projects around the business’ information technology goals. These can include specific IT/technology change and transformation as well as more strategic business focussed change which can leverage technology for change in areas such as People, HR and Finance. IT project managers and programme managers may work across all industries as nearly all businesses rely on technology for a variety of business elements.  

IT project and programme managers are regularly non-technical roles, with a very heavy delivery focus across IT/technology focussed projects spanning the organisation, unless a specific technical project manager is required. Management of these projects with technical focuses will require the project manager to have an understanding of the technical aspects to support with communication and project delivery, this can include knowledge of specific systems being implemented.  

Project lifecycle describe with icons stage 1 initiation what is required to put the project into action stage 2 planning who will be involved? what will be the milestones? how will success be measured? what are the risks? stage 3 execution what is getting done? stage 4 management how is progress? what information or data is there to report? stage 5 review what went well in the project? what didn't go well? how can the process be improved?

What is a project manager?  

So, what does an IT project manager do? The main aim of a project manager is to ensure a project is planned and executed on time, on budget and to the quality required to achieve the desired goal. All project management roles support in successful delivery of business and/or tech change/transformation. All work on a project or programmes will be focused on transforming or implementing initiatives and delivering from ‘A to B’. A project manager will normally manage individual projects to align with the business needs.

What qualifications are desired by employers?

Some of the most common certifications/qualifications our clients look for when recruiting a project manager include:  
●       Prince 2  
●       APM 
●       PMI 
●       CAPM 
●       IAPM 

Most clients also look for BSc/MSc in a related subject, although this is not always necessary. 

What are programme managers?  

A Programme Manager is a progression from a project manager and looks after a portfolio of projects for an organisation with a more strategic approach. They will have visibility across a full range of projects ensuring accountability and collaboration.  

Decorative. Two women working off a tablet together.

A business generally brings on a project or programme manager to ensure an effective, on budget, compliant project/programmes are implemented and completed successfully and on-time. These roles help an organisation manage all stakeholders and reporting which ensures effective communication across the business including to the board. In summary, while Project Managers focus on successful delivery of individual projects, Programme Managers oversee the coordination and management of multiple projects to achieve a broader, strategic, organisational objectives.

Types of jobs in project/programme management  

The most common job titles in this space are: 
●       PMO (Project Management Office)  
●       Project Manager 
●       Portfolio Manager  
●       Programme Manager 
●       Programme Director  

There are multiple other roles that are included in this discipline to ensure a programme and project is successful including Business Analysts, Business Change Manager etc.  

What are the key project management skills?  

Clients generally look for a range of technical and soft skills when hiring a project or programme manager. 
Some key skills and qualities desired are as follows:
●       Stakeholder management  
●       Process management 
●       Project planning  
●       Project initiation  
●       Risk management  
●       Communication skills  
●       Organisation  
●       Time management  
●       Familiarity with project management methodologies and tools 
●       Adaptable  
●       Collaborative  
●       Leadership skills   
●       Problem-solving  
●       Critical thinking 
●       Presentation skills  
●       Budget management 

What are the salary ranges for project/programme managers?  

How much can project and programme managers earn? Typical salary rates have multiple considerations not only experience and location but sector and the latest legislation including IR35 for contractors. The salary ranges mentioned below are based on what we are currently seeing offered and cover junior individuals to more senior roles.  

Permanent position salary ranges: 
●       Junior to Mid-level Project Managers:                                £50k-£70k 
●       Senior Projects Managers:                                                   £70k-£90k  
●       Programme Manager:                                                          £90k-£110k 
●       Programme Director:                                                           £110k-£150k  

Contractors' daily rate ranges: 
●       Junior to Mid-level Project Managers:                                £500-£600 
●       Senior Projects Managers:                                                  £600-£700 
●       Programme Manager:                                                         £700-£1,000 
●       Programme Director:                                                          £1,000-£1,500 

Please bear in mind salaries vary considerably based on experience level and your location, we recommend speaking to one of our project management consultants for the latest salary information.  

Benefits  

Most benefits offered are usually standard within the industry but can also include:  
●       Bonus (discretionary)  
●       Private healthcare/dental  
●       Uncapped annual leave  
●       Specific project management training/professional development  
●       Life insurance 
●       Car allowance (in certain circumstances) 

Career progression in project management  

There are a lot of progression opportunities in this vertical. The main progression I tend to see is candidates transitioning from Project level-individual project planning and execution to Programme level-strategy for groups of projects/interdependencies. As individuals get more experience in handling more complex and larger projects, they utilise this to then support a team of project managers across a wider programme.

Progression in this discipline normally happens when delivery has been strong across their projects to demonstrate a good track record showcasing clear success metrics. All project managers looking to progress need to ensure they can execute successful projects across different scales and sizes whilst dealing with a range of stakeholders.

An example of this would be a very delivery-focused project manager, who has successfully planned, managed and executed several individual projects in their career, wants to advance into a more strategic, larger-scale role overseeing a number of projects within a programme of work and levelling interdependencies between them.

As programme managers will be leading and managing individuals responsible for projects, they will need to demonstrate strong leadership and communication skills. Aspiring programme managers need to showcase their ability to work at a more strategic level to achieve wider organisational objectives.

We have seen greater progression in the contract market as contractors are generally bought into businesses to ensure end-to-end completion of projects with strict objectives and metrics to report on. Contractors, due to the nature of their role, are used to joining new environments and moving at speed as well as being more stakeholder agnostic. This means they normally have more varied experience to draw on for future projects/vacancies.

Summary  

Overall, project and programme management are skillsets that are always in demand due to the benefits to organisations especially accountability and project completion efficiency. There are multiple career progression avenues for individuals in this space with many candidates working on innovative projects and advancing to oversee portfolios/programmes. As a senior consultant in this discipline it’s exciting to see how this area will evolve with the influence of emerging tech.    

For more insights, advice, or to explore available roles, feel free to get in touch with us via email or LinkedIn, or visit our website www.harveynash.co.uk for the latest roles and networking events. 

Author 

Joe Foreman is a Senior Consultant and part of the Birmingham Tech Specialisms team. A career change saw him make a transition from sports lecturing at college and university level into the world of technology recruitment. He is responsible for building out projects, change and transformation capabilities for his wide range of clients, seeking contract and interim resource.

If you’d like to speak further about project and programme roles, then please get in touch

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