Development professionals everywhere work to address the most complex global and local problems, ranging from extreme poverty and armed conflict, to outbreaks of infectious disease and gender-based violence. The root causes of the problems that development and on-governmental organizations (NGOs) seek to overcome often require multiple strategies and interventions to address the complex causes of poverty, violence, disease, social injustice, environmental degradation, and humanitarian disaster.



Working in a dynamic sector requires multi-dimensional solutions to bring about change and an approach that equips country and regional teams to be responsive and capable of delivering excellent programs in a continuously changing environment. To do this successfully, a Program Manager must have a good understanding of the external context and make sound judgments regarding the implementation of programs, projects and activities.

The Program Manager’s role is to keep a close eye on local, national and global dynamics, to work closely with senior management, and to offer leadership for Project Managers and their teams. This can involve providing insight into how the outputs of separate interventions can be leveraged to achieve a greater impact for communities, or ensuring that a group of projects are integrated into a single program to achieve economies of scale and secure funds from an institutional donor.

Program Manager's Role

While project staff focus on the implementation of activities that contribute directly to agreed outputs and outcomes, the Program Manager must focus on the challenge of coordinating, creating synergies and finding ways to increase the impact of the overall program.

Even when highly experienced Project Managers are accountable for large, complex projects, it is important that their work aligns with the goals and overarching strategy of their organization. They need the support and guidance of their manager (often the Program Manager) who provides the overview and leadership needed to enable them to deliver efficient and effective projects. The intention of PgMD Pro is to clarify the differences between the roles of the Program Manager and Project Manager, and in so doing provide the guidance that organizations need to shape the way that they work.


PgMD Pro Guide – Pages 11 and 12

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