In Step with Projects

In Pace with Progress

How to Adopt Right Mindset for Successful Program Management


Author: Mustafa Hafızoglu     Source: PM World 360 Magazine
Most organizations have various projects with various stakeholders. Market pressure on shortened life cycles of new products, minimizing costs and increasing the scope makes project management even more indispensable for these organizations. On the other hand, although it has been getting better, the success rates of projects that have been completed on time, within budget and within scope is very low. According to PMI’s 9th Global Project Management Survey in 2017 which surveyed 3,234 project management professionals, 200 senior executives, and 510 PMO directors from a range of industries:

Only 57% of the organizations finished their projects within their initial budgets,

51% of them finished their projects within their initially scheduled times and

49% of the organizations experienced scope creep or uncontrolled changes to the project’s scope within the last 12 months (PMI, 2017)

Who is responsible for achieving these performance parameters for a successful project? Project managers or program managers or both? The answer to this question differs for each organization based on their expectation of program management. So there is no right answer to this question. On the other hand, program managers that focus more on projects will have less time to spend on realizing benefits. Organizations that are not able to measure the benefits and even the missed opportunities cannot understand the value of program management. Hence there should be a clear mindset to guide the organizations for successful program management.

Here are seven building blocks to create the required mindset:

 1. Related project benefits
If the organization has related projects, you should question whether there may be benefits obtained by managing them together. If so, assign a program manager just to realize these benefits and leave the project management to project managers. However, this does not mean that program managers will not coordinate the project managers; this is all about avoiding micromanagement.

2. Intangible benefits
There are always benefits that are hard to measure in managing programs, so do not neglect them as even top management on occasion cannot see the value in concrete terms.

3. Program and project sustainability
Programs do not have an end; however, projects do as they are temporary endeavors. So a long-term perspective is needed in managing programs.

4. Creativity mindset
Identifying benefits, both tangible and intangible, may be difficult and program managers may need employees to have a creative mind. Gather experienced people to help program managers discover the benefits.

5. Systematic benefits realization
Benefits realization should be managed in a systematic way. Organizations should define this systematically so that the benefits can be identified, assessed and monitored effectively. Benefits realization management is a must if an organization expects value from their program management.

6. Stakeholder engagement
Engaging stakeholders is the first and indispensable step to realize benefits. Stakeholders of a program may be different from the stakeholders of the projects.

7. Uncertainty creates opportunity
Uncertainty is an opportunistic environment for programs to identify new benefits. Don’t miss the opportunities.

Change is indispensable, in our business, in people, in the market, and in everything… The organizations that can capture the most benefits for their organizations will have a competitive advantage. So focus on programs and managing programs effectively.
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