Program management in industry 4.0

by Mustafa Hafızoglu

While attending the PMI Turkey Chapter Summit I heard the best definition of Industry 4.0 from Ali Rıza Ersoy, program management, Deputy General Manager and Digital Factory Division Manager of Siemens: “Transforming from arm muscle to brain muscle.” This simple but stimulating definition may guide us on how to change the way we manage our programs to adapt to new industry dynamics. First of all, let’s start with why we do need to change?

The main purpose of programs is to gain benefits. These benefits may be tangible or intangible; planned or emerged, and direct or indirect. A Program Manager defines, creates, and delivers these benefits. These generally emerge from the identified program outputs and outcomes and hence mostly specific to the program itself. These outputs and outcomes providing benefits that result in business value. Organizations and executives are directly impacted by this result and monitor and assess its effect on the strategic goals. Programs as benefit generators are crucial for organizations as far as these benefits are aligned with the strategic objectives.

Strategic objectives are defined to move the company from its current state to the state it intends to go (vision). Industry 4.0 says that it will not need arm muscle but brain muscle. So the companies can only get to the state they intend to with brain muscles. So benefits generated by the programs should support the brain muscles in the coming era more. How do we manage to change our programs to support the brain muscles then?

The need to utilize brain muscle requires a human focus mindset for organizations. The most crucial change has been the mindset that focuses on the value of people. Organizations will need more people that are creative, that possess exceptional problem solving, and conflict resolution skills in the digitized, brain-muscle age; thus the benefits should focus more on people too. That is to say, identifying people-focused benefits will add more business value to organizations. Here are two steps where program managers may want to start:

 1. Guide your project managers

Adesh Jain, Principal Consultant & Advisor defines project management as “the art and science of converting vision into reality”

The art part is where program managers should guide their project managers to start with the change. The success parameters of a project should go beyond scope, time, and budget. Program managers should measure the success of their projects by the way they touch the lives of other people (Barry-Wehmiller, n.d.). 

2. Become a People-Skill Manager

A key priority should be to identify new benefits that improve the skills of the people, contribute to the company culture, and increase the happiness level of everyone within the organization. 

A new era has arrived. Only the ones who can adapt will survive. Good luck!


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