Program Managers & Project Managers

Program Managers and Project Managers: What's the Difference?

Jasmin Ahmetbasic, Lead Program Manager & Team Lead @ Authority Partners

In this blog we look at how Authority Partners is moving from a project management mindset to a product management mindset to improve IT development and delivery for our client partners. This new and innovative strategy represents a significant, yet complementary, change in approach for our engineers, designers, scrum leaders and consultants.

A product orientation is not an approach meant to diminish the complex technical steps needed to put a new project together. Instead, the shift to a product orientation is designed to better situate the work we do at Authority Partners within a larger and more insightful value proposition for our clients and partners.

We are trying to take a new and innovative approach to the way we work, thinking through our processes differently to see how we can add value to the projects that our international team of experts deliver to our clients. The program manager and the product manager each play an important role in helping us deliver innovative solutions.

We believe that a product-based approach offers a value proposition that helps generate significant improvement in the work we do. It also delivers a broader and more global perspective that improves efficiencies and offers an innovative and cost-effective strategy maximizing the benefits of the deliverables we create internally for our teams and externally for client partners.

As client needs become more complex, so do the tools we use to generate results. The strategies we employ operate at a technological level as well as in the way we organize and manage our 500+ team of developers and consultants.

Conducting or directing the orchestra?

At Authority Partners, we see the program manager as similar to the conductor in an orchestra.  The conductor works with every section of the orchestra – the woodwinds, strings, percussion, etc. – guiding the expert players towards the larger goal of interpreting a piece of music. In our company, the program manager focuses on deliverables, working with IT architects, scrum masters and developers to make sure that quality control and client specifications are met.

Like the program manager, the conductor understands the particular language and expertise of each section and helps channel those different areas of expertise so that the end product – the music – is at its best and the audience has an amazing experience.

In contrast to the program manager, the product manager is more like the managing director of the orchestra. The managing director operates with a longer timeline and a more global view. How do all those different concerts come together to make a great season of music that will be to the pleasure of the audience, and good for the artistic and financial vision of the orchestra?

The program manager and the product manager work together closely, but ultimately, the product manager is the CEO of the product. In the same way as the managing director of the orchestra establishes a financial and artistic vision by helping to decide on the season’s repertoire and hiring the conductors who will be leading the musicians when the orchestra plays, the product manager helps establish the roadmap for the long-term vision of a particular product set.

While the project manager, software developers and the QA squad are building the next system, the product manager is thinking about the overall process and the ways in which new iterations can be improved on, or the ways in which existing versions of software designs and systems can be reconfigured for future customers.

The product manager also has an important role to play in thinking about new ways of positioning the products that we develop internally, such as timesheet or payroll management systems, to meet the changing needs and demands of the market. The product manager generates efficiencies that have a positive impact on the speed and cost of delivering innovative solutions to our clients and partners.

If there is a software solution that we can exploit from an earlier iteration that delivers technological and cost benefits, can these be passed down to the client? Can we take a strategic approach to applying our superior technical expertise based on the large body of work we have already done, to offer a client a new and innovative software solution?

A Mantra for Success

Helping channel the team’s energy around product delivery also helps cultivate a sense of pride when we look at how effective our solutions are compared to our competition. By looking at the work as a product rather than simply another project, we generate a particular excitement and an emotional connection to what is being produced – a new development code or an innovative approach to systems architecture. 

The product process becomes a mantra because the team is delivering something that is much bigger than any of its individual parts. For our team members around the world this approach to working and to delivering solutions to our clients and partners is a great source of pride.

At Authority Partners our expert solutions are driven by the innovative ways we organize our teams and by our world-class technological expertise. To our clients we are partners who help deliver business outcomes.

We are Authority Partners.

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