Alan Harpham, Chairman of the APM Group, UK

An update of a paper originally presented at The 16th International Project Management Association's World Congress in Berlin, 2002.

Copyright Alan Harpham.
Published here March 2003.

PART 1 | How and Where | How does Program Management Fit
Program Management | Framework | Reflections
Business Change Manager | Key Processes | Accreditation | Conclusions

How and Where do Programs Fit into the Business Organization?

In Part 1 of this paper I identified a number of different types of programs and noted that my preferred definition of a program is:

"A set of related projects with a common strategic goal or aim".

I also introduced the guide "Managing Successful Programs" (MSP), the most definitive work on the subject in the UK. The MSP guide describes program management as a pragmatic, robust management approach. It helps organizations to deliver and realize the required benefits, innovation, and new ways of working that will ensure success with major projects and programs of business change.

In this Part 2, I should like to discuss the MSP guide in more detail, together with some of its related issues.

So, where do programs fit into the business of an organization? As I described in Part 1, programs are a part of the way for making change happen. Thus, program management fits between the strategic direction of the business or organization and the projects level as shown in Figure 6. Figure 6 also shows how objectives are narrowed down to become very specific at project and task level, as we move down the hierarchy.

Figure 6. Business strategy drives programs, which drive projects and tasks

Figure 6. Business strategy drives programs, which drive projects and tasks

The MSP guide agrees that programs lie between strategies and projects in what it calls the "program management environment", see Figure 7.[1] It also adds in the concept of a "blueprint" achieved, i.e. the vision, emanating from the completion of the projects, linking to the operation of the business. I will discuss the merit and drawbacks of the "blueprint" later in this paper.

Figure 7. The program management environment

Figure 7. The program management environment
Part 1  Part 1

1. Managing Successful Programs, published by The Stationary Office in 1999, ISBN 0 11 330016 6, produced by the CCTA, now the OGC (office of Government Commerce) in the UK Figure 2, p10
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