Program Management:

               Program management is the process of managing several related projects, often with the intention of improving an organization's performance. In practice and in its aims it is often closely related to systems engineering and industrial engineering

               The Program Manager has oversight of the purpose and status of all projects in a Program and can use this oversight to support project-level activity to ensure the overall program goals are likely to be met, possibly by providing a decision-making capacity that cannot be achieved at project level or by providing the Project Manager with a program perspective when required, or as a sounding board for ideas and approaches to solving project issues that have program impacts. Typically in a program there is a need to identify and manage cross-project dependencies and often the Program Office may not have sufficient insight of the risk, issues, requirements, design or solution to be able to usefully manage these. The Program manager may be well placed to provide this insight by actively seeking out such information from the Project Managers although in large and/or complex projects, a specific role may be required. However this insight arises, the Program Manager needs this in order to be comfortable that the overall program goals are achievable.

               program management is concerned with doing the right projects. The program manager has been described as 'playing chess' and keeping the overview in mind, with the pieces to be used or sacrificed being the projects. In contrast, project management is about doing projects right. And also according to this view, successful projects deliver on time, to budget and to specification, whereas successful programs deliver long term improvements to an organization. Improvements are usually identified through benefits. An organization should select the group of programs that most take it towards its strategic aims while remaining within its capacity to deliver the changes. On the other hand, the view that programs are simply large projects or a set of projects allows that a program may need to deliver tangible benefits quickly.

               Many programs are concerned with delivering a capability to change. Only when that capability is transferred to the line management and utilized by the host organization will the benefits actually be delivered. On this view, a program team cannot, on their own, deliver benefits. Benefits can only be delivered through the utilization of a new capability.

               Program management also emphasizes the coordinating and prioritizing of resources across projects, managing links between the projects and the overall costs and risks of the program.

               Program management may provide a layer above the management of projects and focuses on selecting the best group of projects, defining them in terms of their objectives and providing an environment where projects can be run successfully. Program managers should not micromanage, but should leave project management to the project managers.


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