Program Management for Improved Business Results
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Program Management for Improved Business Results

Russ J. Martinelli, James M. Waddell, Tim J. Rahschulte

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eBook - ePub

Program Management for Improved Business Results

Russ J. Martinelli, James M. Waddell, Tim J. Rahschulte

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Superior program management begins with superior information and strategy

Program Management for Improved Business Results, Second Edition is a practical guide to real-world program management, written to align with the rigorous PMI® PgMP® certification standards. The book explains the benchmarks and best practices that help shape a superior program manager, and provides case studies that illustrate the real-world application of management concepts. Written by a team composed of both industry professionals and academics, the book strikes a balance between theory and practice that facilitates understanding and better prepares candidates for the PgMP. Managers at all levels will learn the insights and techniques that are shaping modern management expectations.

The Project Management Institute and the Product Development and Management Association both agree that program management is a critical element in the successful integration of business strategy and project management. The certification process is difficult, and few complete it – but demand for competent professionals is high. Program Management for Improved Business Results addresses this disconnect, preparing readers to fill the gaps and help businesses achieve the level of program management integration required by professional organizations. Topics include:

  • Aligning programs with business strategy
  • Program planning, execution, and processes
  • Management metrics and strategic and operational tools
  • Roles, responsibilities, and core competencies

The book focuses on both the macro and the micro levels, explaining the successful integration of business strategy with project portfolios as well as the managing of a single program. Case studies present both issue-oriented and comprehensive perspectives, and guidance includes real, actionable steps. For professionals seeking improved program outcomes, Program Management for Improved Business Results is a roadmap to exceptional management skills.

(PMI and PgMP are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.)

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Part I

It's About the Business

Part I begins by providing clarification of the program management discipline and then illustrating how program management can be implemented as a major part of an organization's business model.
The primary theme established in this first part, and then used throughout the entire book is it's about the business. The purpose of the introductory chapter, Program Management, is to establish the foundational elements of programs and program management as it is practiced in our organizations and many of our clients' organizations, and explain how it is used to achieve a firm's strategic business goals. The unique meaning of program management is identified and described, illuminating its raison d'être. It explains what program management is and what it is not and compares and contrasts program management with project management and portfolio management, dimension by dimension.
The foundational elements from Chapter 1 provide perspective for Chapter 2, Realizing Business Benefits. In our own careers, we have witnessed the power of program management to serve as a coalescing function that provides business benefits by delivering both business value and business results. In Chapter 2, we explore these two sides of business benefits realization through the implementation of program management within an enterprise.
Chapter 3, Aligning Programs with Business Strategy, completes Part I by detailing the systematic approach of program management through the use of an integrated management system. As we demonstrate in this chapter, the program management discipline plays a pivotal role in aligning the work output of multiple project teams to the corporate and business unit strategy of an enterprise.

Chapter 1
Program Management

A lot has changed with respect to program management since we introduced the first edition of this book. Much of the literature that existed at that time consistently confused program management with project, portfolio, or operations management. Today, multiple standards exist and many volumes of white papers, articles, and books are readily available. As a result, the general knowledge about what program management is and why it is valuable has increased markedly.
While many different aspects and approaches to program management have emerged, we have been pleased to watch a convergence on what we believe is the single most important aspect of program management: it's about achieving business results.
Even the various standards, which by nature take a broad brushstroke at the subject of program management, state that program management is all about benefits realization, and benefits directly refer to achievement of the business goals of the enterprise and the organizations within the enterprise.
The purpose of this introductory chapter is to establish the foundational elements of programs and program management as it is practiced in our organizations and many of our clients' organizations, and explain how it is used to achieve a firm's strategic business goals.
This is the foundational information needed by anyone considering the introduction of program management within their organization, or for anyone needing a better understanding of how their current use of program management can be further matured to gain improved business results and establish a stronger link between execution and strategy.

Definitions and Context

One of the primary challenges with creating standards, and therefore standard definitions, is that they have to be broad in nature to encompass a wide range of applications, but specific enough that individuals can identify and correlate the work they do on a day-to-day basis within the standard.

Programs Defined

The two leading standards with respect to program management are of course The Standard for Program Management by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in the U.S., and Managing Successful Programmes by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) in the U.K. From an academic and standards perspective, each of these organizations has created a useful but differing definition for a program.
PMI defines a program as “a group of related projects managed in a coordinated manner to obtain benefits and control not available from managing them individually. Programs may include elements of related work outside of the scope of the discrete projects in the program.”1
The OGC defines a program as “a temporary flexible organization created to coordinate, direct and oversee the implementation of a set of related projects and activities in order to deliver outcomes and benefits related to the organization's strategic objectives.”2
From a practice standpoint, we can utilize either definition, depending on the organization we are working with and their particular view of what a program encompasses. There are a few points of particular interest, however, that we tend to point out regarding these definitions when teaching or coaching. We particularly like the fact that the PMI standard identifies that a program includes “elements of related work outside of the scope of the discrete projects.” As we explain in Chapter 4, by taking a whole solution or systemic approach to defining and structuring a program, one quickly realizes that a program needs to encompass more than the constituent projects within the program to be truly successful.
Additionally, the OGC standard brings out the fact that programs exist “to deliver outcomes and benefits related to the organization's strategic objectives.” This is a critical distinction in practice: programs must exist to further the strategic business goals of an enterprise. Otherwise it becomes work for the sake of doing work—a result that unfortunately is all too common in many organizations.
Finally, each standard describes a program as consisting of a group or a set of “related” projects. We would rather the standards be a bit more precise regarding this point. If the projects are merely related, what distinguishes a program from a portfolio in these definitions? In practice, the projects within a program have a higher level of relationship. They are not just related, but rather highly interrelated. The distinction here is that each project is so dependent upon one or more of the other projects on the program that it cannot succeed on its own. If one of the projects on a program fails, it is highly likely that the program in its entirety will fail. This is an important distinction because it is not necessarily the case for a portfolio of related projects.
Understanding these subtleties with regard to the definitions for a program will help in the application of the term within your organizations.

Program Management Defined

While we were writing the first edition of this book, a common, universally accepted definition of program management did not exist. When we researched the definition we found many versions that were similar in some ways and quite different in other ways. Interestingly, the same is true today, only there are fewer versions available.
Although we have slightly refined our original definition of program management, we continue to find that it is most effective for people who are either implementing program management into their organizations or looking to mature their existing program management culture and practices.

Program Management Definition

Achieving a set of business goals throug...