"Program management brings value, connecting diverse groups within an organization around shared processes and goals."

While I was very fortunate to have had the chance to be a Program Manager for an awesome technology company, thanks to my good friend and the chance the hiring manager took on me 5 years back, I never had any formal program management training. I’m eternally grateful to him for saying YES to me, and his innate ability to provide guidance to nudge me in the right direction whenever I needed it.

As with almost everything I know professionally, I picked things up on the job through supportive colleagues & leaders, and the broad knowledge base spread across the intranet & internet. So when I saw this Learning Program Management course, I was divided on whether to spend time on it. Since I was already doing it right.

But then…it awards PDUs so why not! Haha…plus I’m curious if there’s any best practices I can bring over to my next role.

So what is Program Management, and which Lifecycle Phases does a Program goes through to deliver Success:

a. Groups multiple projects together to achieve the same deliverables and organizational strategy
b. Enable efficient cost management and maintain overall coordination
c. Stakeholder and relationship management
d. Remove impediments and conflict resolution
e. Ensures value and benefits are valid post projects completion

a. Program Definition
b. Program Benefits
c. Program Delivery
d. Program Closure

a. Vision: WHY the company exists
b. Mission: WHAT the company want to achieve
c. Strategy: HOW do you reach your goals
d. Objective: WHEN do you reach your goals, and WHERE do you find them

Now that we are aligned on the above definitions, let’s dive deeper into the wonderful world of Program Management:

a. WHY: Program Sponsor authors the Program Business Case to capture expected benefits
b. HOW: Program Manager develops the Program Plan to outline execution
c. WHEN: Communicate status & assumptions through Program Roadmap & Milestones
d. WHAT: Program Strategy Toolkit defines which environmenal factors may affect your Program
      i. Market
     ii. Financing
    iii. Resources
     iv. Economy
      v. Government Regulations
     vi. Technology

a. Identify the benefits, objectives and success metrics in the Project Charter
b. Program Business Case communicates program justification and stakeholders’ expectations
c. Benefits Register collects and list the planned benefits
d. Define the performance baseline
e. Benefits Transition towards Benefits Sustainment
f. Keep these tasks in mind:
      i. Solve Conflicts Quickly
     ii. Manage and Update Risks
    iii. Progress to Goals
     iv. Main Documentations
      v. Ensure Program Value Proposition is still viable
     vi. Engage Program Governance Board and Program Sponsor

a. Objectives:
      i. Defines what a Program should accomplish
     ii. Describes how to keep the Program on track
    iii. Details how the organization can provide support
b. Roles & Responsibilities:
      i. Program Governance Board: Accountable for Program success
     ii. Program Manager: Responsible for delivering benefits
    iii. Program Management Office: Manage Portfolio, Program Standards, Status, Templates and Documentation

"Because the program is strategic in nature, it's important for the program manager to use effective communication to describe how the day-to-day program activities are helping the organization execute their strategy."

And everything in-between, including financial, resource, schedule and scope management:

a. Objective: Describe how the day-to-day program activities are helping the organization execute their strategy
b. Ensure everyone is kept properly informed
c. Adjust your communication style according to your audience e.g. leadership, program team, formal (status report), informal (email or one-on-one)

a. Objective: Coordinate/Monitor/Control activities between program projects to integrate these components into 1 program
b. Program kickoff/initiation using a Program Charter to describe expected benefits
c. Manage various plans like benefits realization program, program goverance plan, stakeholder engagement, team management, program financials, program schedule, etc

a. Objective: Secure outside help to run program
b. Plan by collecting requirements, and identify & understand individuals/vendors
c. Request for proposal/presentation, review material, select and arrange for contract
d. Monitor/control to ensure benefits are realized

a. Objective: Define, manage, measure, and deliver quality
b. Control project output to ensure quality holds
c. Ensure benefits continue after program closure to ensure value is delivered as promised

a. Objective: Identify and manage risks (unplanned events) at various levels: Organizational Strategy, Program & Projects
b. Create a risk contingency (funds) based on
      i. Identify risks (known unknowns)
     ii. Probability of risk occuring
    iii. Impact/cost within the risk
c. Monitor projects & adjust plans to fix any problem earlier

As with many things in life, it’s all about the people. You may have the best program and project deliverables, but if people do not buy into it, all you have is a white elephant. Hence remember to identify and engage your stakeholders throughout the Program to secure consistent buy-in:
a. Identify & classify your stakeholders using the Power Interest Grid
b. Keep stakeholders in the High Power and High Interest grid deeply involved
c. Develop Trust through active communication

Here’s a book recommended by Michael Boyle if you’ll like to read more about this topic: “Program Management: A Life Cycle Approach” by Ginger Levin.

"The key to program management success is creating and maintaining positive relations with all stakeholders, but especially with the program governance board."