Transformation Manager and Programme Manager: Are they really different?


By Laurence Nicholson

United Kingdom

What exactly are a Transformation and a Programme, and how do they differ in management?

Firstly, let’s take a look at the grammatical definitions for each:

  • Programme: noun – “A planned series of future events or performances”, Oxford English Dictionary
  • Transformation: noun – “A marked change in form, nature, or appearance”, Oxford English Dictionary

It appears from these definitions that a ‘Transformation’ is a change in something and a ‘Programme’ is a vehicle within which to manage such a change.

Before we explore these further, let’s see what the Project Management Institute (PMI) says about these terms:

Interestingly, the PMI has no formal definition for ‘Transformation’. In the entire Third Edition of the Standard for Program Management there is no use of the word ‘Transformation’.

  • Program (US Spelling): “A group of related projects, subprograms, and program activities managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits not available from managing them individually”

So what does this tell us? To me, this supports the idea that they are not the same thing, or at least not different ways of saying the same thing.

If this is the case, what exactly IS a ‘Transformation’? We already know what a ‘Programme’ is from the published definitions, but from a business perspective, what is a ‘Transformation’ and who would manage one?

In order to understand more about what a ‘Transformation’ is, let’s consider the definition SAP uses in its industry standard Business Transformation Management Methodology (BTM2)©:


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About the Author

laurence-nicholasonLaurence Nicholsonflag-uk

United Kingdom

Laurence Nicholson is a highly experienced Programme Director/Manager and Certified Agile ScrumMaster with private sector, voluntary sector, international and public sector experience and a broad range of transformation, programme management, procurement, change, and client services management skills developed with a number of world-class organizations.

He has led large teams of 50+ on global IT and Business related programmes often in excess of £25m to successful conclusions. He specializes in recovery of struggling or failing projects and programmes, and includes individual development for the project or programme team members as part of the role.

Laurence has held P&L responsibility as a Director and divisional head with WarnerBros International Theatres and as C level Exec at ProcServe, operating at this level both internally and externally.

He regularly provides Executive coaching and mentoring on operational approaches and cultural diversity management and is an active member of the Non-Executive Director Network, currently supporting two Consulting businesses in the IT and Business Services space. (www.nonexecutivedirectors.com/laurence-nicholson-pmp-csm–ned-2633.html)

His Specialties include: Transformational Direction, Project and Programme Management, Agile techniques, Risk Management, Change Management, Quality Assurance, Agile Software Development Management, Development Programme Management, Procurement, Resource Management and Divisional Management

He is currently the Managing Director and Executive Programme Director at N Cubed Consulting Limited, a Business Transformation, Programme Management and Executive Mentoring organisation. (www.ncubedconsultingltd.co.uk)

Laurence can be contacted at [email protected]