Difference between a Project and a Programme

Are you scratching your head to explain the difference between a Project V a Programme

A programme usually requires strategic direction and a roadmap to navigate difficulties. A programme is a large change where the desired outcomes are known but some uncertainty about how results might be achieved. A roadmap will be a useful starting point. When managing a program the user should remain flexible to change whether if this is positive or negative.  Think of a programme as an overarching outcome that includes the co-ordination of a range of projects to achieve a final outcome. Progress is tracked throughout the lifetime of the programme for benefits realisation.

A project has a start and finish date where the outputs are more clearly defined. Typically the organisation knows the desired outcome and allocates a certain number of resource and budget to a project.

The easiest way to differentiate between the two will be to visualise something small and defined as being a project. Something big and unknown made up of several projects to achieve the same goal as being a programme.

A programme might be subject to several gateway reviews as the size makes it more difficult to manage. Projects are still subject to reviews but these are more likely to be linked to milestones.

Every organisation will have its own structure and governance process for due diligence, health checks and audit of internal activities. If you can’t find one suitable for procurement projects then you should develop an effective framework to ensure the correct governance and quality assurance has been applied

Most tenders can be classified as a project rather than a programme, however, for large projects, you might want to use a formal gateway process.

If you would like to purchase a Gateway process you can find this in the A-Z Procurement Templates.