Are You Ready for Program Management Systems?

March 29, 2018


In one of our previous blogs, we explored the dimensions of a Program Management Systems by reviewing its critical aspects listed below.

  • Project management and its facets
  • Characteristics of a system; and
  • Correlation between project management and systems

Let me set the context here. We live in a projectized world, and project management systems represent ‘hygiene’ factor and not a ‘nice-to-have.’ So, if your firm manages projects, it is but natural to have a robust project management system.
The project management world has seen some tremendous shifts over the past decade or so. While the number of projects has increased manifold, the size, value, and complexity of these are mind boggling. Managing these initiatives as a single project is just not feasible! The project management fraternity calls them ‘programs.’ The PMI in their Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (or PMBOK Guide®) defines a program as a group of related projects managed in a coordinated manner to obtain benefits not available from managing them individually.
Why did the need for program management arise? Let us review some examples.

  • Deploying an organization-wide ERP solution
  • Launching a satellite
  • Developing a drug for a critical disease
  • Designing and implementing rapid mass transportation for a large city
  • Constructing a large commercial or residential complex

The management of the above initiatives is considered to be quite a challenge for project professionals.
Can we not manage the cases mentioned above like regular projects?
Of course, you could!
The only catch would be that you would significantly increase the overall risk (schedule, costs, quality, benefits, etc.) of delivering the intended benefits! Now, if you would like, go ahead!
If you would like to manage it with a higher level of confidence of successful delivery, then we suggest that you design a ‘program’ in project management parlance. Such a program would have multiple projects that are tightly related with one another. Additionally, you would have a program manager who would be supported by multiple project managers, who in turn, would have teams working in a highly collaborative mode to ensure benefits planning and realization.
Here comes the million-dollar question!
How would you go about planning and executing programs? What would give you the comfort that you are ‘in control?’
Remember, each of the project managers and their teams would have to plan their scope, schedule, cost, quality, resources, communication, procurement, risks, and stakeholders. If the program has six projects, then the program manager can expect six times scope, schedule, costs, quality, et al.
How easy would that be to coordinate and control all of these and ensuring that you still have hair left on your head!
Don’t even try!
Program management systems play a crucial role to enable program managers to collaborate and integrate all the plans from multiple projects, understand inter-project dependencies, risks, constraints, resources, and communication dimensions.
Let me read your mind.
Are you thinking, “what should I look for in a top-class program management system?”
Well, there are no perfect answers. Some excellent pointers are listed below.

  • Can we configure different types of program templates that enhance organizational efficiency and maturity?
  • Can we have unique workflows, project methodologies, processes, and checklists?
  • Can I roll-up and roll-down from program to project and vice-versa?
  • Can I seamlessly connect individual project schedules to the program level?
  • Can I use advanced dashboards and analytics, again from program to project and vice-versa?
  • Can I get a smooth and seamless collaboration platform between the program manager and project managers, between project managers, and between team members?
  • Can I design alerts and notifications based analytics that are unique to each program and its component projects?
  • How comfortable is it to manage resource utilization of members working on multiple projects?
  • Can I consolidate risks at the program level by prioritizing them on specific parameters?
  • Can I manage program meetings and associated action items from multiple projects?
  • Can I have metrics at a program level that can be drilled-down to projects?
  • We could add many more.

Hopefully, one could visualize the challenges associated with program management from the above pointers.
Now, it is not rocket-science to understand that unless organizations invest in a top-class program management system, the chances of success are very bleak!
Fortunately, with the advancements in the software world, innovative and cost-effective solutions are available today that make program management relatively easy.
Try TouchBase® and explore the power of a real program management system!

Srikanth PV


Srikanth PV comes with two decades of global corporate and consulting background across industries with diverse roles including Strategy, Leadership, and Management. Currently, Srikanth is Head, PPM Content Management at Kytes focused on content management strategy aimed to empower customers create and enhance value through its flagship digital solution - Kytes PSA. Srikanth is also a former member of the Board of Directors of PMI Bangalore Chapter.