Before we dive into the benefits of program management, we need to make sure we understand what program management is. The Project Management Institute defines program management as “A group of related projects managed in a coordinated manner to obtain benefits not available from managing them individually.” Program management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to meet program requirements (Project Management Institute, n.d.).
Now that we understand what program management is, let’s dive into some of the benefits of program management. Some of the key benefits of program management are the value of your project team, project selection, cost savings, and risk management.
When we are fortunate enough to get the same, or near the same, project team for the projects within our program, we can empower our team to be more than just part of a project team. Why is this important? An engaged project team that understands the goals of the program can be a powerful tool for a program manager. The project team will be better prepared to contribute ideas and recognize cost-effective measures, as they will not only understand the goals of the project but also the goals of the program. Team members will feel they are part of something bigger than just a single project. Your project team will also be aware of the work being performed across other related projects; they will also be able to help identify opportunities for efficiencies. For example, developers can help recognize work that overlaps. This can lead to cost savings and reduce the risk of rework.
Project selection is another benefit of program management. Program management allows you to take a comprehensive approach to related projects to ensure your projects, and ultimately your program, align with corporate strategic goals. Your program has goals that support the goals of the portfolio and, ultimately, your organization, right? By looking at projects from the program perspective, you can select the most cost-effective projects in your program; that support the goals of your program and, ultimately, the key strategic initiatives of your organization.
Program management can reduce overall project costs. If you have ever worked on software development projects and haven’t managed them as a program, you may have heard a developer comment, “I wish we had known about this when we did the last project since we have to redo the same code” when discussing the requirements of the new project. What is the developer really saying in this scenario? The developer is saying that knowing about this new project when the previous work was conducted would have saved time. By managing projects as part of a program, we can stretch our budget further and get more projects that drive value throughout completion.
Risk management is the final benefit we are going to discuss today. We know risk management is a critical part of managing a project successfully. How does looking at risks at a program level benefit us? Part of risk management is trying to prevent or mitigate threats while trying to take advantage of opportunities. When managing risks at the program level, risks can be managed in a coordinated way. One project may have a threat that is mitigated or eliminated by the work being performed on another project within the program. Why is this important? It is important because risks add costs to our projects. In the scenario where the work on one project eliminates a risk on another project, we are not only able to reduce our costs but potentially prevent a threat from occurring that could greatly impact the overall success of the project. Without looking at risks as a program, this benefit would not be recognized.
The value of your project team, project selection, cost savings, and risk management are just some of the benefits of managing a program can provide. I look forward to sharing more about program management on PMWorld 360.
Program Management. (n.d.). Retrieved from Project Management Institute: https://www.pmi.org/learning/featured-topics/program