Managing Successful Programmes is the 2003 copyright of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) in the UK. Consistent with our North American spelling policy, we have used US spelling throughout this review, including the spelling in direct quotations.

Published here March, 2006.

Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked
Further Observations | Downside | Summary


It is important to draw attention to the essential difference between project management and portfolio management. Project management, or even program management in the sense of very large projects, is all about the successful delivery of acceptable "deliverables" in terms of achievement within constraints of time and resources. Portfolio management goes much further and requires optimum selection of projects in the first place and the realization of intended benefits in the last.

Managing Successful Programs (MSP) points to the critical success factors of a successful program as having these attributes:[17]

  • A clear and consistent vision of the changed business or other outcome
  • A focus on benefits and the internal and external threats to their achievement
  • Coordination of a number of projects and their interdependencies in pursuit of these goals
  • Leadership, influence, management and direction of the transition, including cultural change

We are glad that the issue of "cultural change" is mentioned, even though only in passing. After all, cultural change necessary for a business organizational change is often the biggest hurdle to be overcome. As the MSP observes, the attributes listed should run as continuous "strands" throughout the program and will inevitably change the way the organization or business works. Every effort should be made "to minimize 'stress' to the business by anticipating the magnitude of any change and allowing sufficient time and resource for the organization to adapt."[18]

MSP clearly sets out how successful programs, in the sense of project portfolios, can and should be accomplished, and it emphasizes that:

"A program will involve considerable commitment in terms of resources (from a number of areas), a significant budget, lengthy timescales, potential disruption of extant projects or programs, and major business or organizational change."[19]

In our view, MSP provides a sound basis for developing a program, or evaluating the effectiveness of those already in progress.

R. Max Wideman
Fellow, PMI

Downside  Downside

17. Ibid, p5
18. Ibid, p14
19. Ibid, p12
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