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How much authority does a program manager have?

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In a traditional organization, how much authority does a program manager have? Does his authority surpass the authority of the functional managers? Can he step into other people's territory when it comes to imposing his authority? Can he fire/replace a project manager? Can he give direct orders about the project to the project team (neutralizing the role of the project manager)?
asked 10 years ago by anonymous edited 10 years ago by humblepm

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The Program Manager has formal authority over the following:

- The Program Planner (if different than himself)
- The PMO Manager (if the PMO falls under the program, it might occur that a PMO is setup at the organization level, and not at the program level, in this case the PMO does not report to the Program Manager)
- The Project Managers
- The Risk Managers (if different than the project managers)

The Program Manager has indirect authority over the resources belonging to the above roles.

It is also worthy to note that the program manager often has enough authority to kill a project (after simple consultation with the board of that particular project).

The program manager, can, if he elects to, give orders directly to the project team, if:

- The project manager is absent (and the program manager is assuming his role, although usually the project manager delegates his role to an APM).

- He considers the project manager to be inefficient

- He's trying to help an overwhelmed project manager

I have to say that the above intervention is very rare (although it is possible and legitimate), because the program manager is usually too overwhelmed to assume the role of the project manager (or help him in directing tasks). Usually if the Program Manager feels that the project is not progressing at the planned pace, he will first "interrogate" the project manager to find out the reasons of why the project is falling behind, and then take necessary actions, either relieving the project manager and assigning another one, or securing more resources for the project. Again, it is very rare for the Program Manager to intervene directly at the project level, and communicate with the project resources.
answered 10 years ago by humblepm (17,390 points)

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