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Program Management (or Programme Management which is more common in Europe) is the process of managing multiple interdependent projects that lead towards an improvement in an organization's performance.
Projects deliver outputs, programmes create outcomes.
Programme management is concerned with doing the right projects, project management is about doing projects right.
For example a programme designed to launch a new product is likely to contain a whole portflio of projects including:
design of the new product - this delivers a design specification modifications to the production line or factory - delivers a manufacturing capability marketing - delivers advertisements, brochures and pamphlets staff training - delivers staff trained to sell and support the new product etc etc.
Typically a programme is broken down into projects that reflect the organisation's structure. the design project will be run by the design team, the factory will manage the modifications to the production line and so on.
Whilst each of these projects is designed to deliver something, known as a deliverable or an output, the programme is designed to deliver benefits that will improve the organisation. Benefits in this example will include extra sales income from the new product.
Programmes are normally designed to deliver the organization's strategy such as an ambition to the fourth biggest supermarket by 2015 or reduce wastage by 5% in two year's time.
Programm Management also emphasise the coordinating and prioritizing of resources across projects, managing links between the projects and the overall costs and risks of the programme.
Programme management provides a layer above the management of projects and focusses on selecting the best group of projects, defining them in terms of their objectives and providing an environment where projects can be run successfully. Programme Managers do nt micromanage and leave project management to the project managers.
The UK government, through the Office of Government Commerce, has invested heavily in program management (or programme management as it is known in the UK). In Europe, the term normally refers to multiple change projects: projects that are designed to deliver benefits to the host organization.
Many organizations only run one programme at a time, a programme containing all their projects. Some larger organisations may have multiple programmes each designed to deliver a range of improvements.
Key factors in program management
- The structure, process, and procedure to control operations and changes to performance objectives.
- Define the performance architecture.
- The program must support higher level vision, goals and objectives.
- Verify and validate the program, ensuring adherence to standards and alignment with the vision.
- Ensure there are regular reviews, there is accountability, and that management of projects, stakeholders and suppliers is in place. z
- Optimize performance across the program value chain, functionally and technically.
- Tracking of finances is an important part of Program management and basic costs together with wider costs of administering the program are all tracked.
- Allocation of resources influences the cost and success of the program. Infrastructure might cover offices, version control, and IT.
- Develop the plan bringing together the information on projects, resources, timescales, monitoring and control.
- Continuously assess performance; research and develop new capabilities; and systemically apply learning and knowledge to the program.
Differences from Project management
A program (in business) is different from a project, in that:
- A project is unique and is of definite duration. A program is ongoing and implemented within a business to consistently achieve certain results for the business.A project is designed to deliver an output or deliverable and its success will be in terms of delivering the right output at the right time and to the right cost.
- Program Management will include management of projects which, togther, improve the performance of the organisation. A programme's success will be measured in terms of benefits.
- Benefits are the measures of improvement of an organisation and might inlcude increased income, increased profits, decreased costs, reduced wastage or environmental damage, more satisfied customers. In central or local government organizations benefits might include providing a better service to the community.
- In the course of achieving required results, business programs will normally understand related business constraints and determine the processes required to achieve results based on resources allocated. Improvement of processes is a continuous operation that very much contrasts a program from a project.
- At the lowest level project managers co-ordinate individual projects. They are overseen by the Program Manager who accounts to the Program Sponsor (or board).
- Project management
- Cost overrun
- List of project management topics
- Program Management Professional
- Project Management Institute
- ^ Managing Successful Programmes, Rob Sowden et al (TSO, 2007), p156
- The International Association of Project & Program Management
- APMG's Managing Successful Programmes site
- PMI Project Management Professional (PgMP) credential