What is a Program Manager and Program management? Here’s a quick guide to program management. T
his role emerged as an extension of project management in the late 20th Century. This extension came from the increasing complexity of the projects, increasing importance and the necessity of linking projects with the strategic objectives and increasing number of interrelated projects to be managed simultaneously. Let’s begin by defining what program management is.
What is program management?
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines a program as “a plan or system under which action may be taken towards a goal” whereas PMI defines it as “related projects, subsidiary programs, and program activities managed in a coordinated manner to obtain benefits not available from managing them individually.” I would suggest defining it as a program is a collection of various components each having their own goals aiming to create and execute a mindset to realize benefits and obtain a synergy. The components mentioned in this definition can be projects, portfolios, and operations. The program is expected to focus on how to obtain benefits by managing these related components in a coordinated and effective way.
Why program management matters?
A growing organization cannot escape from the increasing numbers of projects and complexity. Program management provides these organizations with a new system to overcome this complexity by managing related projects in a coordinated way and creating benefits which could not be created otherwise.
In today’s dynamic environment and fierce competition, solely projects and their products cannot be sufficient to reach the defined company-wide goals and strategies. The defined and realized benefits as a result of the programs will be the crucial approaches for the organizations to achieve their vision.
The scope of program management
The full scope of program management work can be defined with performance domains for program management. PMI suggests these domains as:
- Program strategy alignment: This domain mainly aims to align project benefits with organizational goals. It includes the Program business case, charter, roadmap, environmental assessments, and program risk management strategy.
- Program benefits management: Benefits are identified, analyzed, planned, delivered and then sustained within this domain.
- Program stakeholder engagement: Stakeholders are identified and analyzed within this performance domain so expectations can be managed.
- Program governance: This domain aims to establish a framework to support the program by enabling program decision making and providing a monitoring process so that it ensures the program is managed effectively.
- Program life cycle management: This domain includes three major phases, namely, program definition, program delivery, and program closure.
The role of a program manager
Program Manager identifies program outputs and outcomes to provide benefits; defines, creates and delivers these benefits; ensures that these benefits are aligned with the strategic objectives; identifies and analyzes stakeholder needs and manages their expectations; establishes platforms to perform program decision making; and manages all program activities from program definition and delivery to program closure.
Mustafa Hafizoglu, PMP, BS, M.Sc., is the co-founder and previous President of the PMI Chapter in Turkey, Program Director at Space & Defence Technologies Co., a part-time instructor at Middle East Technical University. He has 20 years of experience in hardware and software development projects, in the aerospace and defense industry. Mustafa established the PMO at SDT Space and Defense Tech and co-authored the book: Project Management Analytical Approaches. He’s also a speaker atPMI Global Congress and various international seminars. Mustafa writes about program management and risk management.