Addressing challenges along the program delivery path

In a fast moving business environment organizations of all kinds are being subjected to a number of pressures to change which are increasing in both intensity and diversity.  With ever increasing competition and new developments in technology, successful organizations are finding they need strong program management to change successfully.

Program management seeks to ensure that the impact of changes in business operations is coordinated and that the transition to the new ways of working is explicitly managed.  However, programs are fraught with challenges.  Delivery is never guaranteed.  The following diagram highlights many of the issues that are likely to arise during a program. 

To overcome these challenges, program management should focus on inter-dependencies between the projects and the risks and issues that may impact the program as a whole (note this does not mean micro-managing the projects within the program – rather, each project should have its own leadership, direction setting and decision-making processes with individuals responsible for these processes).  The program must be driven to realize the benefits and the projects must be integrated to program-level targets. 

Good program assurance is about leading indicators – rather than reporting on historical events.  Assurance needs to catalyze early interventions to remedy issues and provide confidence that the outcomes will be delivered.

A successful program relies on a pro-active program office to manage program information, challenge plans and progress and support the program top team.  The program office should provide assistance to the projects in the development of their plans and reporting mechanisms.  The control cycle should enable progress against the program plan to be monitored and tracked, using information provided by the projects.   

In addition, to achieve successful integration the program team should nominate a Design Authority to take responsibility for technical standards and consistency across the program. 

The goal is to ensure that the team can deliver more than just the sum of the parts (projects) through the coordination, alignment, communication, planning, and risk management activities of the program team.

Additional blog posts will tackle the challenges highlighted in the above diagram.

Alexander Lowry

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