Program managers oversee the delivery of large groups of associated projects, known as programs.
With numerous project managers reporting to them, they must ensure that all projects within their program are delivered effectively, and the results compliment the long-term strategy of their employer’s business.
This detailed guide includes a full programme manager job description and everything else you need to know about program managers, including salaries, skills, qualifications, typical employers and more.
- Program manager job description
- How much do program managers earn?
- What does a program manager do?
- Requirements, skills and qualifications
- Who employs program managers?
- Which junior jobs progress to program manager roles?
Program manager job description
Technology Program manager |The County Council
About The County Council
The County Council has a forward-thinking approach that supports a modern and efficient local authority. We know that the right technology can support and transform services, improve outcomes for our residents, and boost the performance and productivity of our staff.
About the role
We have a fixed term vacancy for a Program Manager to lead on a major technology initiative, replacing our Adult Social Care business management system with a £10m program of works that will encompass wide-ranging technology projects
- Working closely with the CTO as day-to-day lead on the program
- Developing objectives for program and associated projects, in line with business strategy
- Developing program roadmaps and setting delivery dates with project managers
- Gaining buy-in and funding from program stakeholders
- Forecasting and budgeting for program and creating cost reports
- Creating program progress evaluation system and rolling out across program
- Providing regular reports to stakeholders and senior leadership
- Provide leadership and guidance to program team and project managers
Location & commitments
- Permanent, full-time role at our London office Monday-Friday
- Occasional site visits across the County
- Occasional weekend work and overtime may be required
- Experience of large-scale technology implementation programs delivered on time, with high quality results – ideally in the public sector
- Experience managing diverse teams across multiple national locations
- Able to resolve cross-program risks and strategic issues with senior stakeholders
- A recognised project management qualification such as Prince2 or PMP
- A program management qualification such as MSP is preferred
- Strong reporting and stakeholder management abilities
Contact us to apply
If you’d like to apply for this role, please contact our CTO, Bob Hope, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Attach your CV and tell us why you would be a great fit for the team.
How much do program managers earn?
Program management is a very well-paid profession, with an average salary of £62,500
Programme manager salaries in the UK
- Low: £42,500
- Average: £62,500
- High: £82,500
Program manager salaries will vary hugely depending on:
- The industry of the employer – Does the program manager work for a bank? IT company? Charity? Local council?
- The type of programs being managed – Programs could be anything from IT system roll outs and business restructures, to home building or office moves
- Size and cost of programs being managed – Does the program incorporate 5 small projects at a cost of £1m? Or 50 large projects at a cost of £500m?
- General salary factors – such as level of candidate qualifications, experience and location
For example, a senior program manager leading a £100m program of 50 large-scale IT projects, will usually earn more than a junior program manager leading a £5m program of 5 housing development projects.
Bear in mind that these are average figures taken from job advert samples, and they do not include extra benefits such as bonuses, overtime and non-financial benefits such as healthcare.
What does a program manager do?
Breaking down the job description jargon, here are the typical tasks and responsibilities that program managers will carry out in the delivery of large programs:
- Initiating programs – Analyse business needs and suggesting programs needed to meet long-term objectives
- Developing programs – Identifying and developing new programs to support the company’s strategy, defining objectives for programs and associated projects
- Organising programs – Organising projects within programs and developing roadmaps and teams to deliver program objectives
- Securing funding – Persuading investors and stakeholders (people with a stake in the program) to release funding for program and projects
- Forecasting and budgeting – Estimating the cost of delivering programs and monitoring spending throughout all projects
- Developing evaluation methods – Creating systems and metrics for measuring program success
- Monitoring and reporting progress – Making sure programs remain on time and meet goals including customer satisfaction, safety, quality and team member performance.
- Stakeholder reporting – Preparing and delivering reports to senior management and stakeholders with progress updates
- Risk assessment and management – Identifying, analysing and mitigating program risks
- People management – Recruiting and managing project managers, providing direction, guidance and coaching
What do programme managers need?
Program managers need a range of project-based skills, experience, knowledge and sometimes qualifications in order to carry out the job effectively.
Exact requirements will depend on the type of programs managed, but generally speaking… here’s what’s needed.
Program Managers need extensive program management experience with a solid track record of delivering programs in line with business strategy – or at least project management experience at a senior level. They will also usually require a solid understanding of the particular industry or program type they intend to work within.
Program manager skills
Program managers need a blend of skills to be able to manage programs that achieve business goals:
- Strategic thinking: ‘Big picture’ thinking to make sure projects align with business goals
- Organisation: Coordinating time, budget and resources to complete work within program guidelines
- Analysis: Programs create large amounts of financial, statistical and other forms of data. Program managers must be able to quickly analyse this data to make fact-based decisions.
- Problem solving: Dealing with unexpected issues to reduce or eliminate their effect on the program or individual projects
- Leadership: Able to lead a team and manage their activities. Able to inspire team members, set the program vision and motivate colleagues.
- Communication: Program managers must be able to communicate priorities and constraints, and update stakeholders on how programs are progressing.
- Influence and negotiation: These skills are required to secure funding and push programs forward when dealing with numerous conflicting interests
- Risk management: Identifying and managing risks and issues in programs to reduce their impact
And the more industry specific “hard skills” include:
- Project and program frameworks: knowledge of best practice processes for delivering projects, such as Prince2, PMP and Agile
- Project area knowledge: Knowledge of the programme/projects being delivered, e.g. construction, IT, HR etc.
- Commercial knowledge: An understanding of business operations and finances to ensure programs align with employer goals
Program manager qualifications
Programme management is a complex profession and as such, training and qualifications can be hugely beneficial to those in the role. Most qualifications are based around project/programme frameworks which are internationally recognised guidelines or the delivery of projects and programs.
MSP (Managing Successful Programmes) certification
The MSP framework from Axelos provides a best practice framework for delivering programmes in the UK, and their certifications prove the holders’ competence in delivering programmes effectively.
Prince2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) is the most widely recognised project management certification in the UK, Europe and Australia.
It is a framework for delivering projects which helps to provide a structured approach and ensures that people across the industry work to the same procedures.
Prince2 qualifications teach the framework to people who undertake them, and ultimately provide them with proof that they have a sound understanding of it.
There are 2 levels of Prince2 qualification:
- Prince2 foundation
- Prince2 practitioner
PMP is more recognised outside of Europe (particularly in the USA) and is considered by many to be a more in-depth qualification than Prince2.
Agile is relatively new project management framework, designed specifically to deliver products or service projects and is popular in the software industry.
Industry certification can also be gained through the Association of Project Managers (APM) and the Project Management Institute (PMI).
Subject matter qualifications
It can be beneficial for program managers to hold qualifications in the subject of the types of program they will be managing. For example, an engineering program manager would benefit from having a degree or vocational qualification in engineering.
What is expected of program managers?
Typically, program managers will be expected to commit the following:
- Full time hours – (35 – 40 hours per week) with occasional overtime needed as programs near their deadline
- Possibility of occasional evening or weekend work where program work needs to be carried out outside of the employer’s core business hours
- Location – normally based at employer’s office
- Some travel to project sites or stakeholder offices
Program manager benefits
As program managers tend to work for larger companies, they will usually receive a good benefits packages, including things like:
- Bonuses – based on business performance
- Car allowance
- Corporate discounts
Who employs program managers?
Due to the ongoing need for business transformation programs to be undertaken across all sectors of the UK, program management skills are in strong demand across all industries in both the private and public sector.
Large national and international companies tend to employ program managers frequently, whereas small companies have less need to run multiple projects – which need a program manager to oversee them.
Typical program management employers include companies within:
- Oil and gas
- Not for profit / charity
Which junior jobs progress to program manager roles?
Aside from trainee/graduate programmes, there are a number of jobs which see employees naturally progress into program manager roles. These include:
Project managers lead single projects (often within programs) and are responsible for delivering their objectives and managing project teams. Once they have gained experience, project managers often wish to move into program management – a more strategic role that has a greater impact in the company.
Which senior jobs do program managers progress to?
Even though program management is a great career choice in its own right, it can also be a springboard into some of the most senior and higher paid jobs in a company, such as:
COO (chief operating officer) is a senior executive role overseeing the day-to-day operational functions of a company or area. Program managers’ experience in executing programs in line with business strategy, makes them ideal candidates for such a strategic role.
Programme manager job description – conclusion
Program manager is a very senior strategic job with a strong demand for qualified individuals from large national and global organisations. It requires years of project-based experience and sound project framework knowledge to carry out the role effectively.
It pays well above the current national average salary, offers challenging and rewarding work as well as plenty of attractive career progression opportunities.