The Programme Manager is responsible for the successful delivery of the whole of the proposed change, co-ordination of the programme's projects and management of their inter-dependencies.


The programme manager is responsible, on behalf of the Senior Responsible Owner (SRO), for delivering change. The role requires effective co-ordination of the programme’s projects and management of their inter-dependencies including oversight of any risks and issues arising. It also includes the co-ordination of the new capability for the business to enable effective change and realisation of projected benefits.

In most cases, the programme manager will work full-time on the programme. The role is crucial for creating and maintaining focus, enthusiasm, and momentum.

The programme manager is responsible for the overall integrity and coherence of the programme. They will develop and maintain the programme environment to support each individual project within it, often through an effective Programme Management Office (PMO).


The programme manager is responsible for:

  • planning and designing the programme and proactively monitoring its progress, resolving issues and initiating appropriate corrective action.
  • defining the programme's governance arrangements
  • ensuring effective quality assurance and the overall integrity of the programme - focusing inwardly on the internal consistency of the programme, and outwardly on its coherence with infrastructure planning, interfaces with other programmes and corporate, technical and specialist standards
  • managing the programme's budget on behalf of the SRO, monitoring expenditure and costs against delivered and realised benefits as the programme progresses
  • facilitating the appointment of individuals to project teams
  • ensuring the delivery of new products or services from projects are an appropriate level of quality, on time and within budget, in accordance with the programme plan and programme governance arrangements
  • ensuring there is allocation of common resources and skills within the programme's individual projects
  • managing third party contributions to the programme
  • managing communications with all stakeholders
  • managing both the dependencies and the interfaces between projects
  • managing risks to the programme's successful outcome
  • working with the business change manager or equivalent on the transition to the new business as usual position
  • initiating extra activities and other management interventions wherever gaps in the programme are identified or issues arise
  • reporting the progress of the programme at regular intervals to the SRO or programme director if this role is also defined

On large and complex programmes it may be appropriate to appoint other individuals to support the programme manager for some of the particular responsibilities listed above, for example a risk manager, a communications manager or a benefits manager.

Skills and attributes

The individual appointed as programme manager must have the necessary seniority to be able to take on the responsibilities associated with the role. The balance of skills required of a programme manager often changes as the programme develops. The person with the skills to identify or define the programme may not necessarily be the right person to drive through its implementation.

The programme manager should have:

  • effective leadership, interpersonal and communication skills
  • the ability to command respect and to create a sense of community amongst the members of the project teams
  • good knowledge of techniques for planning, monitoring and controlling programmes
  • sound business case development and approvals skills
  • good understanding of the procurement process including negotiation with third parties
  • good knowledge of programme and project management methods and how to apply, including MSP and PRINCE2.
  • good knowledge of budgeting and resource allocation procedures
  • sufficient seniority and credibility to advise project teams on their projects in relation to the programme
  • the ability to find ways of solving or pre-empting problems


For programme management, the recommended standard for the Northern Ireland public sector is Managing Successful Programmes (MSP). The PRINCE2 methodology should be used for project management generally. For construction projects the principles and procedures set out in in the Achieving Excellence initiative should be followed.

The programme manager should be appropriately trained in programme management techniques and processes. It is essential that the skills and experience of the programme manager are matched to the requirements of the programme and the business should fund appropriate training.

For further information on training and resources see: Commercial Delivery Group: Training & Support.

Related articles

Back to top