Author: Paramu Kurumathur

Program Management Tip 4 – Use support structures and technologies to your advantage

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” Bill Gates Creating and maintaining a Program Management Office (PgMO) will help you achieve clear and consistent processes for the program and for all projects within the program in line with standard practice, methodology and the organization’s goals. The PgMO will support you in handling aspects around the management of the program from organizing to controlling the program through the life cycle of the program like initiation, planning, execution and closure. The PgMO can help you prepare for reviews by mining for and getting the right data to help you solidify your position and help you create reports demanded by the various stakeholders. The PgMO can also be used as a progress chaser to ensure actions from meetings are completed on time. Issues tracking towards closure and watching for risks can also be done by the PgMO. Many a program manager I know spend a lot of time on routine work which would better have been done by a PgMO. This would have freed up the program manager’s job for more productive strategic work. It saves a lot of time if you implement technologies for collaboration, reporting, reviews, tracking and monitoring. I do...

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Program Management Tip 3 – They hold all the stakes – Map them out

This is the most critical aspect of your job. Do this well and you are more than half-way to success. A stakeholder is a person, a group or an organisation that has an interest (stake) in your program. Stakeholders both affect the program and are affected by it. Examples of stakeholders are customers, funders, internal management, teams, governance structure, partners, vendors etc. You may already have a good idea of all your stakeholders and their expectations from the program. But it is always a good idea to sit back and make a list of all your stakeholders. It is important here to differentiate between stakeholders of the projects and sub-programs under your program and the stakeholders of your program. Of course, a stakeholder of a project within the ambit of your program is definitely a stakeholder of yours. But she is only an indirect stakeholder. This stakeholder will be dealt with, and her expectations managed by, the project manager under you. You should focus on your own stakeholders and not overly on the project stakeholders (unless there is an escalation to you) or you may spread yourselves too thin. Program stakeholders generally tend to be at a more senior level in the customer (or other) organisation and tend to be business leaders there. Also, program stakeholders tend be interested in long-term engagements. They also tend to be more geographically...

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Program Management Tip 2 – Don’t fail to see the forest for the trees – Understand the big picture

Picture source: hdwallsource.com Make an effort to understand how the program fits into the big picture of the customer. Normally programs are launched to implement or support the implementation of a strategic objective. Understand how your program ties to this objective. What is the time-frame and what are the outcomes? How does your project deliver benefits that can support the outcome of the objective? Knowing this will help you when you negotiate with your customer and other stakeholders. Changes and other initiatives coming in midway can be measured against the yardstick of the objective. Any changes and other initiatives that do not directly benefit the furtherance of the objective need not be considered within the current scope. Knowing the objective is also important for motivating the team. When the team sees the connection between the results of what they are doing and the outcomes of the objective, it gives an added impetus to their enthusiasm for the work. The Program Charter is the key document that you should have in a program. This will tell you what your authority is and what your responsibilities are and what is expected of you. It authorises you, on the authority of the Program Governance Board (PGB), to execute the program on its behalf. You can wave this in the faces of departments like admin, HR etc. to ensure that they provide the...

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Program Management Tip 1 – All the world’s a stage – Understand your role

Picture source: wikipedia The main confusion is often between the role of a program manager and a project manager. To understand the difference between these two let us first look at what a program is and what the differences are between a program and a project. A program normally comprises a set of sub-program and projects. Many large projects too consist of sub-projects, but the main differences are the ones listed below.   Programs Projects 1 Ongoing, with longer time horizons, delivering incremental benefits End with specific deliverables 2 Measured on RoI and on-going benefits Measured on on-time, on-budget, on-specification delivery 3 Require ongoing funding, financial reporting and financial management Require one-off funding, reporting against deliverables and project profitability 4 Projects within a program normally deliver entities that have independent existence Sub-projects of a large project deliver entities that have existence only within the project deliverable 5 Large, with broad scope Narrow scope 6 Normally is aligned against a strategic objective Delivers against one of many goals that make a strategic objective   To know whether what you are dealing with is a program or a project, you can apply the above criteria as a filter and if most of the conditions under the “program” column are met then you are dealing with a program Picture source: 123rf.com And what is your role? I think the following is a good summary...

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7 Tips for Effective Program Management (A practitioner’s approach)

Picture source: michellerobinson.co.uk A Program is a set of actions aimed at supporting the achievement of a strategic business objective. A program may comprise many sub-programs and / or projects. Managing programs requires a highly specialised set of skills (which may be different for different types of programs, both technical and managerial. Managing programs is a completely different ball-game from managing projects. For one, program management focuses heavily of the management of stakeholders as opposed to management of plans and budgets. Many a time, good project managers who are promoted as program managers tend to not let go of their project management outlook and thus struggle in their job, till they get the hang of program management. In the following series of posts I propose to discuss a few (seven, to be precise) tips that programs managers can use in their jobs. These seven are: Tip 1 – All the world’s a stage – Understand your role Tip 2 – Don’t fail to see the forest for the trees – Understand the big picture Tip 3 – They hold all the stakes – Map them out Tip 4 – Use support structures and technologies to your advantage Tip 5 – Skating away on the thin ice of the new day – Keep your eye on the program risks Tip 6 – Dot your I’s and cross your T’s – Understand...

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