Program Management Summary- Chapter 2 Chapter Various definitions about the word “ program” have been formulated in the past. However, Michel Thiry defines program as “ a collection of change actions (projects and operational activities) intentionally grouped together to obtain benefits.” This definition identifies that various projects are components of a particular program, which once coordinated, deliver benefits; either strategic or tactical.
Program Management is the key to achieve these stated-strategic benefits as it helps to align and coordinate the projects within a program in such a way so as to attain maximum efficiency. Program management is defined as “ the governance and harmonized management of a number of projects and other actions to achieve stated benefits and create value for stakeholders.” Governance provides direction and harmonization provides synergy within a program. The foremost reason for the emergence of Program management is presence of uncertainty and ambiguity in the decision making process through one way or another. Uncertainty is related to information asymmetry thereby causing difficulty in predicting outcomes of a project. Ambiguity refers to possessing various solutions to a problem and stakeholders are unclear about the correct path to follow. Program management, indeed is a decision making process inculcating low uncertainty and high ambiguity.
In the early twenty first century, both the terms “ complex projects” and “ programs” were considered somewhat synonymous due to the presence of similarities within them. However, the entire concept of program management revolves around the capability to foresee the outcomes of a project and to ensure that the project will be conducted within the prescribed parameters. It is assumed that projects, plans and objectives pre-exist while programs are emergent and are brought about to obtain benefits which can’t be achieved by managing the projects individually.
The Europeans and Americans have a varying approach towards project management. According to Europeans, the project starts with an “ idea” and ends with the “ operationalization” of its deliverables which includes covering various small single projects within it while the Americans view project management as to manage single projects.
The projects, programs and portfolios are distinct from one another. Projects convey a single product or service, are well defined, prone to change and their focus is mostly operational or tactical. Project’s success is measured in terms of the cost, quality and time, a project takes. Programs deliver various products or services thereby creating business benefits. Sometimes, the programs require changes and are business focused. Program’s success is measured in terms of its delivered benefits and value creation. Portfolios envelop two major areas; investment portfolio or the organizational projects. They are ongoing and recurrent. There are focused towards the mission of the organization and are aligned with the organization’s corporate strategy. Portfolio’s success is measured by viewing its performance in terms of using minimal resources and providing maximum return.
The strategies are of four levels; corporate, business, product and sales. Corporate strategies define the mission and vision of an organization. Business strategies coordinate various operating units within a business unit to achieve the overall corporate goal. Program management lies at the heart of strategic decision management process and acts as a guide in the entire flow of the program. Program management plays an important role in managing the “ organizational change”. It aids us in testing the novel ways of doing business and business structures. Project Management Office (PMO) is responsible for the management of portfolio of all the programs and projects of an organization.
In a nutshell, program management indeed aids an organization in accomplishing their strategic goals and objectives in the real sense.
Thiry, M. (2010) Program Management 10th Ed. Gower Publishing, Ltd.