Do you need program management?
As a discipline, project management developed from several fields of application including civil construction, engineering, and heavy defense activity. In the 1970s, project management became widely used. Today project management is an established discipline applied by many organizations and businesses because of many instances of great achievement and good results.
In our century project management is used by many organizations and businesses. Managers apply project management to achieve strategic and operational objectives. There are many projects of a compliance nature enforced by regulatory bodies e.g. of an ecological nature – cleaner emissions by the motor industry and power generation plants.
As a result of more applications, the wider and more frequent use of project management brought benefits and also problems. Managers had to address various issues which I discuss below.
Competition for resources
Within an organization, there is usually a demand for scarce competent people, equipment, and money to fund a project. Individual project managers have no incentive to share resources with other project managers. It will deplete whatever resources they have allocated for their project and could lead to time and budget overruns.
A project manager is usually evaluated and rewarded for performance on a project that is her accountability and not for assistance with other organizational projects. Assistance with other projects often means a dilution of effort on own projects. In reality assistance with other projects may lead to punishment for non-achievement on your project.
Lack of coordination
Other than the negative results listed above; if we have a number of projects running simultaneously there could be a lack of synergy if projects don’t serve a higher purpose and where interdependencies between projects are not managed.
Since project management became popular a clear need developed for a new discipline called program management. When you get into program management, you are dealing with a large collection of interrelated projects that somehow have to work in a collaborative way to achieve a positive and common outcome. Program management focusses on optimally managing the interdependencies among the various projects in a program.
The objective of program management
- Program management is a technique concerned with controlling a group of related projects carried out to achieve a defined business goal, objective or benefit.
- It’s important to make the distinction between a project and a program, as while the two are clearly interdependent, the management approach for each is very different. A project requires a discreet effort, which is largely independent of other projects.
- In program management, you are dealing with a large collection of interrelated projects that somehow have to work in a collaborative way to realize a positive and common outcome.
- With program management, we’re looking at a much bigger picture. We are looking for trends and consequences arising from specific actions at the project level that may negatively or positively factor in the overall outcome of a larger program.
- Program managers must not get lost trying to manage details at the project level. If this occurs, they lose sight of their program objectives and become focused on micro managing individual projects.
What to do next
If you recognize the problems and issues described above you may have to consider using program management to achieve broader objectives and to solve integration problems with interrelated projects to achieve a common outcome. You may have to develop a program manager from within your business or appoint somebody from outside with the right experience and qualifications.
Your top and senior management must take cognizance of how they can apply program management to achieve better overall goal-directed results. Don’t use an individual project approach if the coordinated effort of a program applies.
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