A project achieves specific objectives that are defined at the start of the project, for example the colour, size, shape and time scale, will all be defined at the start were as the objectives of a program may be modified or changed to a degree to deliver the overall business objective, for example as the program evolves, a new piece of technology or hardware may become available that would improve the outputs, so the objectives may be modified to realise these benefits for the business.
A Project is a single solution to a single problem, for example to increase the mass of a product that a machine can produce could involve a project to install a higher capacity overhead crane, were as a program is strategic in nature delivering benefits to overall business as usual, for example to increase the mass of the business product to the consumer, several projects will be required such as a higher capacity crane, a higher capacity storage area, a higher capacity inspection table, higher capacity transport, and transport infrastructure, may all be required and managed by a single program.
Projects deliver outputs that realise the benefits at the end of the project, were a program is focused on the benefits to business as usual and will realise them at several stages throughout its cycle, for instance in the example I used above, the project will realise the benefits once the crane is installed.
The program will realise multiple benefits, the benefits of the crane, then the benefits of the storage area, then the inspection table and so on until the final project and the program life cycle is completed, and has delivered overall change to business as usual, the heavier product can now be produced from goods inwards to on the consumer, by business as usual.
A project has a single customer that defines the requirements, a program will have several customers as each project starts and finishes throughout the program life cycle, these customers will all have their own requirements, for example, the customer requirements for the crane project may define that it is painted yellow and can lift 500Kgs to a height of 3 metres, the customer of the inspection table may define that the table have a capacity of 500Kgs also, but may want the table to be finished in a matt green the same as the other equipment in the area, likewise the customer for the storage area project must have a safe working load of 500Kgs but wants it to be finished in bright red paint to stand out to internal forklifts and traffic, they will all require their own individual specific integration into the business such as training.
A project fulfils a single tactical objective, a program has a top down visionary approach were many projects will be included as long as they contribute to the overall vision of the program.
For example the project team on the crane project will be aware of the objective requirements for that project, the program manager will understand how the crane project will contribute to the overall vision of the program, will know when the crane project should begin, when this project should end and knowing when the next project should start , how much the crane project is going to cost, its impact on business as usual and have a high focus on the benefits it will deliver to business as usual on its completion.