A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Program Management for Agile Teams
Program management is a version of instances of several simultaneous projects. Here’s how to understand basic elements of successful program execution.
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Congratulations! You just graduated to play a vital role in the big leagues!
How so? Well, if you are reading this article then you probably have a fair degree of knowledge about how project management processes work in any industry. If you don’t, then you do not have to fret about it! This write-up will fill you on how PM works in large scale programs.
This is one step ahead of projects because we are going to be looking at simultaneous processes that make up for program management experience.
Program management is quite similar to project management, but many things make it quite different from project management. So, what is program management? Let’s start at the very beginning.
What Is Program Management?
According to PMI, program management is defined as:
“A program is 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. Organizations with mature program management are far more successful than those without it, according to our research.”
Loosely translated, program management is the management of a group of projects that are currently on your roster. These projects can be of different types and fields apart from some similarities, and program management is to group the projects to form a “program” of projects.
How does it help in the overall management of things?
Well, when you group the different projects, your design, development, and marketing team can blend their work, to make the overall interface of the company better, which will eventually lead to more value generated for the company.
So, to summarize program management,
- Program management is the management of the different projects in your roster as a group
- The different management techniques, skills, knowledge, and practices of the marketing and development team are used to manage the whole program
Who Is a Program Manager?
According to the experts at ProductPlan, a program manager is defined as:
“A program manager is a strategic project-management professional whose job is to help oversee and coordinate the various projects, products, and other strategic initiatives across an organization.”
In a nutshell, the program manager is the one responsible to oversee the successful delivery of the projects that are included in the program.
The program manager works closely with the different development teams, marketing teams, and other staff to make the projects a success.
Here are some of the responsibilities that the program managers perform throughout their role as a program manager.
Responsibilities of a Program Manager
- They define the program controls, that is the processes, procedures, reporting, to manage the program
- They manage the program budget
- They are responsible for the daily management of activities
- They manage the risks and issues that might and do arise throughout the program life cycle, as well as take measures to correct them when they occur
- They manage and use resources in the resource pool for the development process
- They make sure deliverables are aligned
What are the Benefits of Program Management?
Here are some of the benefits of program management that you gain if you are a manager and have to manage different projects in your company’s roster.
1. Effectively Manage the Project Interdependencies
One thing as a project manager, you need to understand is that in program management, there are many different interdependencies between the various projects in the roster.
This means that without completing one project, you can’t hope to complete another one.
For example, when a developer develops a website for the marketing campaign of your company, the company profits because the business is going to recognition, and both of these processes go hand in hand.
Because without the website, the marketing campaign is non-existent, and without a marketing campaign, what are they going to promote on the website? Cartoons?
When such interdependencies are faced by the team, the program manager steps up and tracks the connections between the projects.
Then and only then, can they charter a course for your team to follow, so that the projects in the company’s roster can achieve success otherwise it’ll be a giant web of different processes here and there but no success in sight.
2. Introduce Flexibility and Adaptability in Your Projects
Many times in the organizational paradigm, companies are developing a ground-breaking project that they think can revolutionize the industry, but one day they wake up and find out that their competitor has launched a similar product in the market before them and now their solution feels outdated.
These occurrences are quite common and it’s your job as a program manager to keep your team focused and create a backup strategy to tweak your product so that it can be relevant again and earn the company money, otherwise it’ll all be a waste of time.
To create this backup plan, you need to first introduce an element of flexibility and adaptability to the whole project management process. This will help you shield yourself from any changes that come in the form of obstacles for the success of your program and go on the offensive when the time is right.
3. Improved Resource Management
Resource management is an important part of both project management and program management.
The difference between the two is that in project management, managers are required to manage the resources from the resource pool among the tasks and processes in a smart way.
But, when it comes to resource management in program management, the program managers are required to allocate the resources among the various projects that are included in the program.
For example, website development and an engaging marketing campaign are both very important projects of a program. The job of the program managers is to share the resource pool among the two and find out the best strategy that can help complete both of the projects within the allocated budget.
Who is a Sponsor?
Whenever you hear about a program in the organizational paradigm, you will hear that the program under development is a “brainchild” of an entity present in the company.
This entity is probably more important than the program manager as it’s their job to oversee the decisions that a program manager makes regarding the program management process.
This entity is the sponsor.
The sponsor is mostly a senior-level executive in the upper management of the company and it’s their job to over-oversee the program management process.
Here are some of the responsibilities that a sponsor has to perform.
- Approve the program that is going to be developed and authorize its initiation
- Confirm and approve the final output of the whole program development process
- Appoint an SRO
- Approve funding for the program
- Provide leadership by supporting the program through the obstacles and difficulties that the program management process is bound to face
Program Management Process
If you know how the project management process, then you already have some idea how the program management process runs. The main difference between the two is that the project management process gets wrapped up quickly, but the program management process is substantially longer.
Let’s take a look at the program management lifecycle in detail.
Program Management Lifecycle
There are 5 stages of the PM lifecycle. They are:
- Defining the Program and everything it contains
- Identification and allocation of resources
- Management of the Program
- Closing Ceremony
This is the stage of the program management lifecycle where the upper management comes together and identifies the goals that they want to achieve through the development of the program in question.
Once they are done with that, they take a look at the programs that they have developed in the past or the ones that are under development. This is done to check whether the program that is going to be developed, can be merged into an older program or not.
2. Defining the Program and Everything it Contains
In this stage, the program is officially defined and documented by the team. All of the stakeholders connected to the project get together and make a case for the program’s existence and document the various strategies which can make the program a definite success.
The output of the gathering is a Program Definition Document which is sort of a guide to help the various teams involved in the program development process, to complete their work easily.
3. Identification and Allocation of Resources
The next stage is the resource allocation phase where the resource pool is identified and all of the infrastructure, resources, and processes that are needed to make the program a success, are nailed down.
This is the job of the program manager and the people that are going to be involved in the program development process are also going to be identified and initiated in this stage.
4. Management of the Program
This is probably the longest stage of the program management lifecycle where the tasks and processes related to the programs are performed.
These tasks and processes are the lifelines of the program, and if they are not performed properly, then the program is going to be a definite failure and the company is going to lose value.
5. Closing Ceremony
This is not an actual “Ceremony” but it is the stage that marks the completion of the program management lifecycle.
This stage is reached when the work that is required to make the program a success is completed, and the entire band of teams breaks up and is assigned to other programs.
So, there you have it. This is the information you need if you want to perform a successful program management session.
If you think that there is something that we missed in this post feel free to and we’d love to get back to you.
Published at DZone with permission of Fred Wilson, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
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