Close analysis of the PMBOK® version5 suggests that all skills required for effective project management are also required for program management.
At a high-level, both project management and program management require:
However, there are clear differences between the day-shift manager at a fast-food restaurant and a program manager running a multi-billion, multi-cultural, multi-year project. Both require the skills listed above, but differences lie in their relative importance, or prioritization. If comparing the three roles on a simple basis, you might agree to the following levels of importance, where a solid powerball is High and an empty powerball is Low:
While your environment may be ‘unique’ and therefore not like the above, there must remain differences. Most noteworthy on the aggregate, ‘human’ skills are the most important, followed by technical skills. Since human skills rely hugely on communication skills, and effective communication relies largely on ‘listening’ skills, then arguably facilitation remains one of the most important skills for project management and program management, since the core skill of facilitation is “active listening.”
Program Management in 3-D
Expand the logic further by using Mackenzie’s “The Management Process in 3-D” as a guidepost. Here we see (from an area perspective) that “People” represent one-half of the pie. People require ‘leadership’ skills depending on the function of ‘communications’ to ensure understanding and bring about purposeful action.
Therefore, we would argue that facilitation skills are more important for project managers than program managers. With a project manager, there may be more than one right answer. For most program management, conditions and assumptions drive optimal solutions. Both manager types need to be skilled, but the relative importance of those skills varies across management types.
Don’t ruin your career or reputation with bad meetings. Register for a class or forward this to someone who should. Taught by world-class instructors, MG RUSH professional facilitation curriculum focuses on practice. Each student thoroughly practices and rehearses tools, methods, and approaches throughout the week. While some call this immersion, we call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.
Our courses also provide an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, and 40 CDUs from IIBA, as well as 3.2 CEUs for other professions. (See individual class descriptions for details.)
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