Understanding Program Management

Understanding Program Management

What is a Program?

Before understanding program management, we must understand what a program is in the field of management. The PMI Standard for Program Management defines a program as “a group of related projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefit which is not available from managing them individually.” The program-wise grouping of multiple projects provides synergy, harmonious management, and a much higher visibility to stakeholders than individually managed projects. Benefits are achieved by initiating projects and programs that are invested in the future of the organization.

Let us consider an organizational pyramid consisting of 5 tiers. At the very top of this pyramid sits the fundamental or core vision of the business or organization. This vision establishes the foundational objectives of an enterprise. 

The second tier in the organizational pyramid is taken by the strategy. A strategy is a long-term process but does not outlive the vision of the business. The strategy

Organizational pyramid

sets out the direction or the course of events in order to achieve the vision of the organization.

The Portfolio is the third tier of the pyramid. The portfolio translates the strategy and provides a structure to the steps adopted to execute the organizational strategy. Portfolio sets priorities and aligns all organizational activities in the direction of the strategy, thereby delivering value.

Below the Portfolio lies the Program. Programs coordinate and synchronize different projects and deliver benefits that impart value to the organization/business. 

At the bottom of the organizational pyramid lie the projects, activities, and initiatives that constitute a program. Each project has its own goal that might be self-contained. 

What is Program Management?

Program Management is the centralized management and coordination of related projects. It is the application of expert knowledge, best practices, skills, various tools and techniques to meet the requirements of the program. Projects in a program are co-related due to various dependencies.

  • Multiple projects might have a common resource pool of people, materials or assets. Required to execute projects or activities.
  • They can also be interdependent components of a bigger strategic initiative and their execution is aimed towards a shared goal or objective.
  • The Projects might also be dependent on one and other because of the need for coordination of schedules and budgets.

Program management brings these highly interdependent projects together in a cohesive and coordinated way. All projects do not function simultaneously, and most often one project follows another. In fact, some projects act as enablers for subsequent projects. It sequences all the projects and lasts way longer than the duration of the longest project.

Key Concerns of a Program Manager

Roles of a Program Manager (1)
  1. The foremost concern of program management is managing smooth coordination of different projects.
  2. Leadership: A project manager must display organizational leadership throughout the life cycle of different projects
  3. Delivery of benefits: A program must deliver benefits that will in turn contribute to the value of an organization’s portfolio. Additionally, program management aligns results with the business objectives.
  4. Reducing or eliminating obsolete objectives.
  5. Resources: Achieving greater economy of size and scope throughout multiple factors such as resources, management processes, and governance procurement. Programs allocate a common resource pool among different projects. Thus, program management requires expert skill-set as compared to a project manager.
  6. Coordination, resolution, and management of risks relevant to scope, cost, schedule and other areas in a shared environment.
  7. Balance in Risk and Reward: Risks are a part of both projects and programs. In Program management, we think of balancing the risk that must be taken among the projects within the program.
  8. Flexibility in approach: One of the most important but understated objectives of program management is to facilitate a variety of project management approaches in a program environment in order to achieve the objectives of the organization. It is often difficult to implement a combination of agile and waterfall (predictive) management methodologies in a project. This limitation is not at the methodology level but more at the level of skill-set. People might not be well aware of all methodologies. In other cases, organizations might be inclined towards a specific approach. Since Program management coordinates projects, and aligns their major integration points, it provides the organization with a strategic flexibility. It acts as a container in which different teams do what they do best, in their preferred approach.
  9. Program managers identify abilities that individual activities and projects will require in future. They draw these capabilities either from the organization, or buy them into the organization.
  10. Communication: A program manager communicates changes to the organization.
Importance and growth of Program Management

Even though project management continues to be extremely popular, program managers have consistently been on the rise. This rise in the need of program managers is due to a few key factors.

  • Rise in complexity: Today, executing a business successfully is complicated as it requires multiple systems, people, and processes to work together and bring an idea to reality. This is not simple. For instance, people today are no longer in the same geographic location. Virtual teams throughout the world are rapidly becoming a norm. Such factors add to the complexity of running a business in today’s world.
  • Most organizations today understand and realize the importance of doing more with less. This can be accomplished through more integrated ways that deliver maximum value. Program management ensures that the deliverables of projects work together and create more value for an organization.
  • Many nations such as Egypt, Australia, United Kingdom have regulations that mandate the implementation of Program management. This simply highlights the importance of this field.
  • There are about a million active PMP certified professionals in the world. Naturally, these professionals will have ambitions to grow further. Becoming a PgMP is most definitely the next step towards their career development. Moreover, growing organizations are highly likely to require program management.

Becoming PgMP certified

Program management has always been an integral part of a successful organization and in today’s rapidly evolving and competitive world, it’s importance is undisputed. Becoming a Program Management Professional emphasizes that:

  • You have significant expertise in managing multiple related projects
  • You are capable of aligning results and benefits with organizational goals
  • Can successfully navigate complex activities across functions, organizations, regions, and cultures.

Once you become a Program Management Professional (PgMP), you become exponentially more valuable to an organization and contribute more directly to it’s success.

Program Management derives benefits that go beyond traditional project management. Programs are not just larger projects but are significantly more than the sum of their components. In any business, results are not driven by just technology, automation or integration. The driving force of organizational success is the business process which is constantly refined and simplified. Program management accomplishes exactly that. Therefore, it can and ideally must exist at all levels: enterprise, departments, and even product-level.

PMI Program Management Professional is a credential that trains you in becoming an efficient Program manager and being an indispensable asset to any successful organization throughout the world.

Education Edge is a PMI Authorized Training Partner that offers on of the best PgMP training by PMI certified trainers themselves. We ensure that you not only pass your PgMP exam but ace it.

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