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What is a Program Manager

Rahul Thadani
Almost every company has program managers that perform some particular tasks that depend on the nature of the business itself.
The truth is that the title of Program Manager holds different meanings for different companies. Two of them working with two different companies can be performing completely different jobs, and this is something that we need to get our heads around.
The fact is that the nature of the job and career opportunities of a program manager depend entirely on the kind of business he's into.
Traditionally, they have been associated with the IT (Information Technology) sector, but today many banks, retail companies, multinational companies and other sectors are also beginning to incorporate the term Program Manager in their dossier of employees.

What a Program Manager Does

Generically speaking, in the context of any business organization, a program can be defined as a common goal that a team of people are working towards in tandem with each other.
This goal involves many inter-related projects, and someone needs to have the responsibility and management skills to coordinate these projects and ensure that everything is going according to plan. This is where a program manager is needed. As mentioned earlier, the nature of this project depends on the kind of company, and the sector in which it operates.
The term 'program manager' is very different in the software industry though. These companies refer to software applications as 'programs', so a he or she, in such a scenario would be someone who is overlooking development of a particular software. They will thus require high levels of technical knowledge in order to ensure that everything works smoothly.

Program Manager Resume

Once you figure out the manager for a particular field holds, you should start looking at some qualities and qualifications that you will need in order to get the best jobs in that particular sector.
It goes without saying that the individual will require years of experience on his managerial resume before he can be allowed to offer management to a team of software developers, or project coordinators.
Apart from this, the individual will need to have effective communication skills, since this is a primary requisite for coordinating the tasks of various team members. Good leadership qualities are also a must.
This also deals with various things like conflict management, negotiating skills, report preparation, technical certifications from IEEE or CSDP and also a PMP certification from a project management institute. If you are working in the software industry, you will most certainly have to show your in-depth technical knowledge as well.

Other Useful Information

The salary that you can get depends highly on the sector that you are working in and the level of experience that you possess.
The biggest companies ensure that their program managers have competitive salaries, plenty of benefits and a large number of opportunities for future growth and promotions. Since this is a highly competitive field, you can be assured that the rewards will be plentiful and worthwhile.
The job description is also something that is heavily reliant on the sector of the business. Some common points that can be inferred uniformly across all sectors are as follows.
  • Design and develop the program, right until the production stage.
  • Create strategies to avoid and minimize risk.
  • Plan the life cycle of the product, and define the requirements.
  • Oversee the project and ensure that everything is going according to plan.
  • Assess the training needs and tools for certain team members.
  • Develop plans to enhance operating levels.
  • Stick to internal policies and rules.
  • Oversee the program and ensure that everything is coming along smoothly.
The exact boundaries of a program manager are not defined, and it is all a matter of policy from company to company. This is a fairly high level management post in any company, so one should not take it lightly by any means.