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Project vs Program
Often, there are initiatives that are treated as projects but are actually programs. Often there are components and deliverables in projects that should be managed as projects of their own. Often this adds to the confusions in managing these kinds of initiatives.

When do you say, "Hey, I see multiple potential projects in this initiative. Let us treat this as a program."
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Yes Joseph I have seen the same effect. in fact, we are not generating difference betwen managing programs and projects and generating confusion in priorities, objectives and ensuring the strategy alignment. I have seen this situation when an initiative involve multiple organizations and each organization has a project management in their side to achieve the results. Do you think in this case is better to manage as a program?
Is just for convenience to sum projects to create a program. Is the same principle you use based on composition/decomposition for any other type of things adding cohesion and coupling principles to take into account too.
Yes, that might happen.
Project =/= Program=/= Portfolio. Too many people get those definitions wrong.
A project is basically a single effort to obtain an end goal.
A program is a set of *related* projects that are all heading toward similar goals, or one larger goal.
A portfolio is a set of programs that ... same as what I just said above.

These are semantics, but they are crucially important. Generally a portfolio will have a Portfolio Manager, who leads the entire portfolio. Under her/him, there should be Program Managers who each lead the projects and report to the Portfolio Manager. And the Project Managers manage the projects and report to the Programs Managers.

It is not always this absolute. In my agency (within the U.S. Government Department of Defense) we tend to really skim over those above details and go right to just programs (the heart of what we do; over 200 of them) and at the portfolio levels (there are six, for now) they really just ensure that each program is doing well within scope, schedule, and cost.

But being a Portfolio Manager is very different than being a Program or Project Manager, mostly in scale, but also in the day-to-day activities. Project Managers must dive deeply into each aspect of their project, whereas Program and Portfolio Managers deal with much higher level views.
Joseph -

If your organization has defined criteria (usually multiple) for identifying programs, it's easy. If not, then it is the judgment call to see whether the overhead costs of managing it as an integrated set of projects will be offset by the risk reduction or other benefits achieved by doing so.

Thanks for all your responses. :)
I agree, you sometimes come across projects that technically are programs and vice versa, especially in organisations that have low levels of PM maturity. These blurred lines can also occur at portfolio management and PMO levels.

In answer to your question, if there is a high level of dependency between projects and they need to be coordinated in order to successfully achieve the desired outcome, then you should manage it as a program. If they are not related and have little bearing on each other then you are simply managing multiple projects at the same time - which could constitute a portfolio.

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