What We Liked
We really liked the idea of introducing the contents through an Executive Summary
that succinctly reflects the contents of each Part and in each Chapter of the
book. This enables the reader to quickly grasp both the structure of the book
and the philosophy of the author concerning Program Management. That is, in terms
of how Program Management has evolved in recent years, what it is, how it should
be applied, the benefits to be expected, and how it may be implemented through
appropriate projects in an organization.
For example, here are some excerpts:
"This chapter [chapter 1] will interest both managers and practitioners
since it defines what a program is in relation to other similar methods and explains
why program management is ideally suited to realize strategic decisions."
"Program Management could be labeled as: The governance and harmonized
management of a number of projects and other actions to achieve targeted benefits
and create value for the program sponsors in the short term, change recipients
in the mid-term and the organization in the long term."
"Programs can be 'deliberate', driven by strategy, or 'ad hoc', a
convenient grouping of existing projects."
"The second section of the chapter [chapter 3] will clarify why simply
transferring project management tools and techniques to the program level does
not work ..."
Project managers, guideline and standards developers please note! So, on the
"Five 'functions' can be identified as essential to the practice of
program management. They are: decision management, [program] governance, stakeholder
engagement, change management and benefits management."
"Decision management is a new area of development that requires both
a learning cycle, the actual decision-making process, and a performance cycle,
the decision realization process. Managers will understand that decision-making
is not just about tools, but about making the right choices, based on objectives
that have been agreed and can be measured."
For those in any doubt, Michel makes it clear that there is now general agreement
amongst standards representatives on the focus and purpose of projects, programs
and portfolios. They may be distinguished as follows:,
"Projects generally deliver outputs: a single product or service
... Programs deliver outcomes:
sets of capabilities which, together, produce benefits
... Portfolios can cover two areas: the organization's projects or its
whole investment portfolio ..."
"Outcomes" are clearly more suited to programs than projects, because inevitably
more stakeholders are involved who can best be served by a number of separate
In program management, benefits are tangible improvements that contribute to
the overall value of the organization or have a positive social impact. To be
quite clear, according to author, Michel Thiry, Program Management has the responsibility
for delivery, or at least ensuring the delivery, of benefits to the organization,
since "Benefits realization is the fundamental purpose of program management."
Michel's model of program management is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Michel Thiry's view of "Realizing Business Value"
10. Ibid p4
12. Ibid, p5
15. Ibid p6
16. Ibid, P. 31-32
17. Table 2.1 on page 32 provides a valuable and detailed comparison between projects, programs and portfolios by comparing the separate areas of "Scope, Change, Success, Leadership, Role, responsibility, Main Tasks and Control."
18. Note the subtle difference between "outputs" and "outcomes". Outputs are deliverables or assets that are tangible benefits by nature, whereas "outcomes" are the consequence of delivering benefits through the proper use of those assets.
19. Ibid p111: Note that in program management, benefits are measurable improvements that contribute to the overall value of the organization or have a positive social impact.
20. Ibid, 114