Why Have Program Management?
Program Management exists to bridge the gap between corporate strategy and
projects. It enables that fundamental question to be asked before starting a
project: "Where does it fit into the corporate strategy?" Figure
2 shows programs and the link between Strategy and Projects.
Figure 2. Making change happen
If it does not fit, then the project should not go ahead and the organization
should not invest in the project. If it does, this will help to identify its
overall priority and importance to the organization. This will help in the determination
of the allocation of scarce resources between projects and between programs.
The cancellation of projects that were not identifiable within the corporate
strategic plan has proved painful for many organizations when the concept of
program management has been introduced. Some of senior management's pet-projects
have often had to be abandoned in the process.
Program management also allows for the top-down planning of programs and projects
in a rational and coherent way. Projects can be slowed down or delayed, brought
forward or accelerated, started or stopped to suit available resources and the
present priorities within the overall corporate strategic plan.
Organizations that have managed projects quite formally for years may be quite
new to the concept and ideas of program management. It may be too difficult to
introduce program and project management simultaneously into organizations that
have had no prior experience of a formal process for either. It may well be better
to proceed in two steps, first project management and then program management.
British Telecom, in the UK, would be a good example of a company that introduced
them separately and sequentially.
Finally, according to Sergio Pellegrinelli, it is a way of organizing project-based
change in organizations.
Many practitioners of project management have expressed the view that project
management is "change management" because all projects involve change.
Proactively, they can be the vehicle for change, as described in Sergio Pellegrinelli's
paper. Reactively, the user or operator of the deliverables or assets provided
by the project manager will find that the way they have always done things will
now be changed hopefully for the better. Personally, I find this a bit
of an over-simplification. Whilst I think the discipline of good project and
program management has much to offer change management, it is a bit arrogant
of the discipline to see itself as being all change management. The UK's Office
of Government Commerce's publication "Managing Change" (originally
published by CCTA as an IS Management Guide in 1999) helps to explain the difference
in more detail.
Program Management: organizing project-based change - Sergio Pellegrinelli
International Journal of Project Management Vol 15, No. 3, pp. 141-149, 1997
3. IS Management Guides Managing Change Best Practice,
published by The Stationary Office in 1999, ISBN 1 90309 1 01 2, produced by the
CCTA, now the OGC (Office of Government Commerce) in the UK