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Posts Tagged ‘Program Manager’

Sustain Benefits; Organize into Programs

Posted by Ammar Mango on October 4, 2016

programs

If a company assigns a project manager to build a new branch, is the project manager responsible if the branch does not perform well? Most likely the answer is no.  As long as he delivered the branch according to requirements like scope, time, and cost.

This is a major issue today in organizations; there is a gap between the strategic objective, the project’s product or service, and the ongoing operations based on that product. In the branch example, someone decided there was a need to expand into a new location.  The organization assumes that simply initiating a project to open  new branch is sufficient to meet the strategic objectives behind the decision.  So a project manager is assigned to “deliver” a new branch.  But once the branch is delivered, and handed over, the branch is not attracting customers.  So they start another project to correct the issues making the branch not attractive.  etc.

The problem is the sporadic effort of dealing with the initiative.  A much better approach would have been to identify the strategic objective behind the requested expansion.  Assign a program manager, to see the expansion through beyond just delivering a new branch.

So a Program Manager would be assigned to identify expected benefits from the Program, work with key stakeholders to develop a program road map, program plan, and road map.  The program will include multiple related projects that aim at achieving the benefit of expanding into a new geographical location, for example.  The Program Manager will still be responsible for the Program and delivery of benefits beyond delivering an opened branch.

A big part of Program Management is Sustainability of Benefits.  A Program Manager would be responsible for operations, marketing projects, infrastructure projects, customer loyalty sub programs, etc, and whatever else it takes to ensure achieving and sustaining the benefits.  Once the benefits sought are in place and sustainability is ensured, only then would a Program Manager close the Program.

Contrast the above to the act of initiating and closing a project.  The project is about delivering a group of deliverables.  Programs are about delivering values and benefits. According to the Project Management Institute, PMI, Programs Are a group of interrelated projects managed managed to produce benefits that cannot be achieved from managing each project separately.

Organizations who recognize the difference between programs and project will quickly reap rewards of having accountability and governance associated with benefits and value focus that a Program offers, not just a deliverable focus that a Project offers.

 

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Organize Projects into Programs and Reap the Rewards of Change

Posted by Ammar Mango on September 5, 2013

The area of Program Management is still widely misunderstood.  Ironically, it is as old if not older than Project Management.  When the 1950’s pioneers started building Project Management models like the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), Critical Path Methods (CPM), and Program Evaluation and Review Technique, a program was almost always in mind before the project.

A program aims at achieving a benefit.  So, when a governmental agency undertakes a project to encourage a paperless environment, even if the project is completed successfully, it does not mean that it was able to bring the institution closer to paperless environment.  A project is always about specific deliverables, and by definition is completed when its required deliverables are complete.  So, who will ensure that these deliverables are used, and that they fulfilled the business need for which it was undertaken?  The project is complete, and the Project Manager is on another project.  So who is doing this?

To solve the above problem, some companies are requesting a “support” period during which suppliers are operating the deliverables (whether software, processes, or resources) and ensuring they are bringing in benefits.  This will help, but it is not enough.  Sometimes one project is not enough to achieve benefits.  You need more projects that together will help achieve the goal.  Who will manage and take care of this link?

Another reason to consider a program is that an organization by design is operational, and wants to go back to its day-to-day activities.  This is why many projects fail to change the organization.  They do not take into account getting the organization out of its norms and stability, into embracing the change.  So, when an organizational unit, or executive believes that we need to go paperless, for example, they immediately think of a project to achieve that.  Change usually requires multiple related projects and someone to be accountable to for achieving the benefit, not just delivering a project.  This is why even “successful” projects fail to prove value on the ground.

The answer to this is for executives and organizations to start considering programs and Program Managers to lead the benefit realization, and to spearhead such programs.

I think soon,  the market will be asking for these, and the Program Manager skill will be hot in the market, and many project managers will feel the pressure of having to go beyond their ability to deliver to build a capacity to think strategically and deliver benefits just like a Program Manager would.  These Program Managers will be a potent hybrid of an Executive and a Project Manager, in one person.  I believe this is the Era of the Program Manager.  It should be exciting.

 

 

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