Program Management is the next destination for many Project Managers. The Program Management definition was kind of disputed among the many institutions such as PMI, Axelos, etc on what really constitutes Program Management and do we really need something other than Project Management.
Program Management is managing 2 or more related projects including operations sub-component, which can give enhanced benefits than managing them individually is what was agreed.
A consistent characteristic of failed projects is their inability to deliver the expected value to the sponsoring business or organization. Whether due to cost overruns, schedule delays, ineffective project management, poor stakeholder engagement, or the loss of alignment with strategic concerns, projects have an unfortunate tendency to deliver outputs that don’t meet organizational expectations.
Program Management goes beyond Project Management. Whereas Project Manager is typically given a typical authority to achieve the project objectives, the Program Manager is typical with less authority and achieve benefits with the organizational strategy.
I have summarized a few key differences between the skill-sets of Program Manager and Project Manager
The Program Manager is necessarily not a skilled or proven Project Manager. The ideal Program Manager should demonstrate Leadership & strategic skills – he should be Business Savvy, i.e., has sufficient business experience, industry knowledge & competitive intelligence, can take unpopular decisions while maintaining trust among the team. Further, he should have excellent Communication Skills, where he can render external support and maintain the team & stakeholder balance in delivering the benefits. Essentially Program Management deals with ambiguity and uncertainty both. While uncertainty deals with the likelihood of the occurrence happening or not, ambiguity deals with typically unknown things which cannot be planned well ahead.
The program manager should be orchestra conductor aka Zubin Mehta, leveraging project management skills, organizational strategy and business know how to deliver business value where the whole is significantly more powerful than the sum of its parts.
The key ingredients for a powerful orchestra are the rhythm and balancing the music – i.e., integration of sub-components i.e., various projects and operational elements. The other elements would be a clear roadmap – the exact symphony to be played during the period. The Program Manager will also track the milestones and schedules; continual assessment and adjustments of resources and funds; contract negotiations and centralized vendor management and consolidated program status reporting.
Essentially, the Program Manager becomes the essential link between the business strategy and the initiatives, i.e., projects. The Program Manager links the dots between organization strategy and projects. He/she exhibits a lot of soft skills to get the work done and is focused on the benefits or the Business Value generating out of the Program.
As the industries are becoming more mature, the focus is more on processes and corporate governance, things would be streamlined more, and Program Management – a systematic, strategic & scientific way of realizing the benefits will be more emphasized on.
Recently, one of the participants rolled for our PgMP certification programs – He had not done his PMP certification but handling PMP managers in his team. Post discussion with our team, he realized that he works actually on Programs which is helping the organization realizing the benefits from the projects his team is working on. However, he was not happy with the way the work was done and he learnt the concepts of Program Management. He used some of the concepts such as Program Governance and Program Stakeholder concepts , he introduced the benefits register for his clients and he saw a marked difference on how the customers started responding to him. Further, there was a marked departure on how the senior management and his PMP certified team interacted with him.
In short, want to convey that there is a good potential scope on implementing or introduce the concepts and develop Programs – it may give you the cutting edge in your profession or bring benefits for your organization.
It is becoming increasingly important that managing initiatives as programs that drive organizational strategy and at the same time, maintain execution excellence and realize benefits, is indeed an important capability for an effective organization. Identifying the right person and giving the responsibility to the right person is critical to the organization. The changing dynamics of business today suggests that the Program Manager is a critical resource in the organization, isn’t it?
Program Manager is definitely what a mature organization should look forward to.
Your feedback / suggestions is what I would like to hear – keep in touch.