Program Management has had several different meanings. However, since PMI presented its first Standard on Program Management, and OGC in the UK published Managing Successful Programmes (MSP), Program Management has found its form. Even if there are some differences between the two, the similarities are far greater. When developing the Program Management Model we have based it on the PMI standard but have also been influenced by MSP.

Definition of program

“A program is a group of related projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits and control not available from managing them individually. Programs may include elements of related work outside of the scope of the discrete projects in the program.” (Definition by PMI in The Standard for Program Management, second edition, 2008).
We see programs as vehicles for change in organizations. Projects focus on delivery of products, services or results. Programs, on the other hand, focus on delivering new capabilities and benefits to the organization or community.

While projects tend to reduce change when started, programs embrace change and are in that way more agile.

Why Program Management?

Program management is useful when you need to manage two or more interrelated projects in a coordinated way. The interrelation between the projects (and other work) can happen in different ways. The following are some examples:

  • Two or more projects that need to be coordinated
  • The projects deliver products to each other
  • The projects are all needed to fulfil a strategy.
  • The projects are all within the same organization and will impact the operation. A coordinated effort will reduce the impact or make it more manageable.
  • The projects share risks that must be managed.
  • The projects need to be coordinated towards the customer and are all part of a common, complex delivery.
  • The benefits resulting from the project deliverables need to be realized in a coordinated way.

The use of program management, its methods and techniques will be beneficial to the organization and should be considered when there is some kind of interrelation between projects. The methods can also be used for “multiprojects” or large projects with several sub-projects.

Note: the project or the total effort need not be large for program management to be useful. As always the model, methods and techniques must be commensurable to the task at hand.

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