Level I, Affiliate International Retail Banker, described the different project methodologies such as waterfall, agile and scrum, providing candidates with an understanding of how they are best used. This section helps managers understand how to better manage projects and programmes, irrespective of method, by describing what projects and programmes are, the differences between them, and the basic skills required to manage them successfully.

Programmes and projects are at the heart of how a business transforms, introduces new products and services, implements, or improves new processes and technology, and many other business changes. Implementing them successfully is key to the business remaining relevant and growing.

What is the difference? To use an analogy, projects are like a train running on a track operated by a project manager, who may use a team to achieve the project goal by arriving at a destination with a finished product, service, process, or technology.

A programme is a collection of trains running on different tracks that may intersect, heading for the same destination or goal, each led by a project manager. The programme manager is the network controller, directing the various project trains, ensuring they don’t crash into each other, and arrive at the destination or goal.

A project has some defining characteristics:

  • Pre-defined scope that is limited to a clear deliverable and deadline for completion;
  • Normally focuses on a single process, outcome, or unit of work;
  • Improves quality, efficiency, cost management or customer satisfaction in a specific redetermined way.

Programmes characteristics are:

  • Unknown or fluid deadlines because of the wider scope and impact of work that must be done over a long period;
  • Multiple, often interrelated dependencies that may evolve due to changing business needs;
  • A series of deliverables completed together to increase efficiency, accuracy reliability or other business needs;
  • Success delivers long-term benefits or unlocks new capabilities for the bank.