What is a Programme Manager?

If you work as part of a company that has multiple projects running simultaneously, you may have heard the term ‘programme management’ being used to describe how all of this work is coordinated. A programme manager is responsible for organising all of this, keeping a company’s long term success and aspirations in sight through the work that they agree to complete.

Alternatively, you might work in a business that has recently taken on a lot of work and is struggling to integrate the running of multiple projects, or feels that they aren’t doing enough to drive the business forward towards its overall goals. A programme manager can be the solution to these problems, helping to streamline multiple teams and ensure that every new project that is taken on helps to push the company in the right direction.

In this article, we explain what programme management is, the role of a programme manager within a business and the circumstances where it can be a good idea to hire a programme manager for your organisation.

What is Programme Management?

Organising a Calender

Programme management is a process that involves the simultaneous organisation and coordination of a variety of projects within an organisation. This coordination intends to improve the performance of the organisation as a whole by aligning goals and streamlining processes so that all tasks run harmoniously.

Organisations that use programme management frameworks tend to be large enough that they can take on multiple projects from different clients at the same time. It’s also used by businesses that have specific objectives they want to achieve as a way of working more efficiently and ensuring that the work they are doing aligns with their goals and plans for growth.

Programme management is a kind of project management that operates on a broader scale. It involves the same kinds of skills such as organisation, delegation and foresight, but tends to take a longer-term view of work that needs to be done and doesn’t dwell on the details.

In the engineering industry, programme management is frequently used by a range of companies to ensure the long-term success of the business and to make sure that all projects are ultimately helping to push it forward in the desired direction.

What is the Role of a Programme Manager?

The role of a programme manager involves being in charge of overseeing multiple projects taking place within a company. They will be responsible for working with directors and stakeholders to agree on the overall objectives of a business and then organising the work that takes place to ensure that these are achieved. They must also ensure that the projects happening in their company align with company values, as this is another important part of leading the business towards achieving its goals.

A programme manager should be invested in the stability and growth of their place of employment and make changes that will drive the business forward, even if only in incremental ways. They’re usually in charge of deciding the projects that a company takes on or the clients that they work with, ensuring that these decisions are relevant to the business plan or help move the organisation towards a new goal.

Whilst a programme manager will often select the projects taking place within their company and influence the objectives of these, they won’t tend to get involved with the specifics of what needs to be done. Instead, they take a ‘big picture’ outlook on all of the projects happening within a company simultaneously and are responsible for ensuring that there are the resources available to complete these.

The role of programme manager tends to be a senior position in a company, as a good knowledge of the industry it belongs to is very important when making decisions about future success. It’s also useful to have been working in a business for a while and have a good idea of how the business works and what its values are before you become a programme manager, so it’s often a role that employees get promoted into.

Saying that, an external programme manager may be brought in if a company is struggling and needs expert advice and guidance about how to make the right decisions for the future and coordinate the work taking place in its departments and teams.

What is a Programme Manager Responsible for?

Leading a Meeting

Programme managers are employed in companies across a wide range of industries, which means the specifics of their role requirements will vary depending on where they work. Some of the more general programme manager responsibilities may include:

  • Meeting with company directors and stakeholders to establish the long-term goals and objectives of the business
  • Choosing the projects or client work that will take place within their organisation and establishing what deliverables need to come from each of these
  • Applying the principles of programme management to a company’s existing structure
  • Deciding on a ‘program’ of work that will take place within a specified time period and the objectives that these projects will work towards
  • Coordinating work that will take place simultaneously so that each project is integrated into the overall programme schedule
  • Checking that deliverables will help the company move towards overall business goals 
  • Assigning budget to different project teams to ensure that deliverables meet expected standards but that resources aren’t wasted
  • Staying up-to-date with the progress of each project within a program and measuring progress and efficiency to ensure that deadlines are met
  • Conducting or commissioning financial and safety risk assessments to address potential risks across the programme and identify areas where preventative measures may need to be implemented
  • Liaising with clients and stakeholders to determine the business’ direction and provide updates on programme progress
  • Creating programme documentation and keeping this updated with data about progress, efficiency and project impact

When Should You Hire a Programme Manager?

If you’re an employer responsible for sourcing and hiring new members of staff for your team, there may come a time when you start to wonder whether hiring a programme manager is the next good move for your organisation. Here are some things to consider when making this decision:

  • Are there now at least several projects taking place in your company at any one time, each involving different teams of employees?
  • Are you struggling to divide budget and resources efficiently between projects?
  • Is there a lack of communication or coordination between the departments in your company?
  • Do you feel that the clients you are working with share similar values and goals to your business?
  • Do you feel that your senior management team needs more support and assistance coordinating the work completed by the company?
  • Are you looking to strengthen your company values?
  • Are you aiming for significant business growth in the next five to ten years?

Job Success

In instances where you are just looking for a team leader to take on the organisation and overseeing of a single piece of client work, a project manager will be more suited for a task. You should hire a programme manager if you’re looking for an employee who can take a long-term view of the company’s progress and manage multiple streams of work at the same time.

It’s worth considering promoting an existing employee into a programme manager role instead of seeking a candidate from outside of the company, as programme management is something that is much more successful when you have a clear idea of how a business works and what its overall goals are. Sometimes bringing in an outside candidate that has specific programme management experience and skills can be beneficial, but it may take longer for them to get up to speed on how things work in your business. Hiring from within your existing employee pool means that you don’t have to go through an onboarding process, and also means that your new programme manager is more likely to be invested in the success of the business.

If you do decide to hire a programme manager from outside your organisation, you can find candidates for this role from across a range of industries, not just electronic and embedded systems engineering. Because this role requires a higher level of program manager skills and experience, the most effective recruitment method is to approach potential candidates directly, or work with a specialist recruitment company that can help you find the ideal candidate for your company.


Programme management can be an incredibly valuable framework to bring into your company, particularly when you are growing your business and expanding your workforce. A programme manager is a very valuable role to have in a team, and whether you’re an employer searching for someone to fill the role or a candidate applying for the position, having a good understanding of what is required from the role will make the hiring process much more successful.

If you’re an employer in the electronics and embedded systems industry that is looking for specialist help hiring programme managers, get in touch and find out more about how our recruitment agency can help you.

Chris Oddy

Chris Oddy

About the Author

Chris is an award-winning recruitment consultant who has specialised in the electronics and embedded systems sector since 2008. Chris is passionate about technology and customer service.


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